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Carbon-reducing technologies target climate change

Posted: 02 Dec 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:NASA? IPCC? climate change? gasoline? solar cell?

There exist a number of carbon-reducing technologies being developed or already in use that could help companies, countries and citizens minimise their carbon footprint. In fact, there are certain technologies that provide some means to alleviate the exacerbating problem of climate change.

There is little doubt that the climate is heating up and that it is due to the production of greens-house gases, which have been steadily increasing since the maturation of the industrial revolution circa 1880, according to the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2015) meeting in Paris at the Conference of the Parties (COP21, Nov. 30-Dec. 11).

Last year the IPCC declared that scientists were 95 per cent certain that global warming is being caused (mostly) by increasing concentrations of man-made greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) most of which is being produced by electrical power plants and internal combustion engines. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) paints an even bleaker picture. Of course, there are other causes, from deforestation to livestock flatulence, but perhaps the easiest to address with technology are carbon-free electrical power generation and zero-emission vehicles.

Climate change

There's little argument, expect perhaps from a few congressmen in oil producing states (e.g. Lamar Smith, R-Texas), that the climate is changing, that it is getting hotter. NASA here shows how the global mean surface temperature has risen from 1880-2014, relative to the 1951-1980 mean. The black line is the annual mean and the red line is the 5-year running mean. The green bars show uncertainty estimates. (SOURCE: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), used with permission)

Carbon-free sustainable electrical power generation has been accomplished with power-generating river dams since the invention of the electrical generator, but in many places the dams are being disassembled because of the negative impact they have had on fish runs. No matter. We now have even cleaner methods of electrical power generation.

Solar cells

The most promising zero-carbon electrical power generators are solar cells, which come in all sorts of formulations, sizes and capacities. Several governments, for instance, have produced net-zero demonstration houses that collect enough electrical energy with solar panels to run the household all day, plus sell their excess to the grid. Then at night and on cloudy days, the house draws from the grid. With enough solar cells this can work out to a net-zero or even net-positive proposition, where the utility company sends you a check at the end of the month instead of a bill.

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