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Most climate activists think in terms of reducing carbon emissions as a solution to rising carbon dioxide levels. It is true that levels will rise more slowly if man reduces emissions but if the goal is to stop the rise or lower levels then carbon sequestration or removing carbon dioxide from the air is essential. The majority in the climate discussion don’t give the natural sinks of carbon much credit for being able to sequester more carbon than they currently do. Instead some propose expensive devices and schemes to remove carbon from the air and place it underground etc. Almost no one acknowledges that carbon dioxide is essential for plant life and is really the limiting factor in plant growth if all other needs are met as far as soil nutrients. Sadly most of the world’s soil is demineralized and many other nutrients limit plant growth with many soils so depleted as to be unable to support vigorous plant growth or even healthy plants. To make things worse man treats the soil with great disrespect with his long time intent to keep the soil bare most of the time when it isn’t growing a single crop and then preventing any other plant from growing other than the crop. This makes farm land a carbon emitter on average as soil life that needs carbon compounds to live attacks stores of carbon in the soil as food instead of gaining nutrition from growing plant roots. Man further hurts soil life by using chemical fertilizers and pesticides that wipe out much soil life and encourage the decomposing microbes to release more carbon back into the air along with oxides of nitrogen.
What is amazing is that a lot of the carbon emits is sequestered by plants and ocean life so that atmospheric CO2 levels don’t go up as much as they could. The good news is that the level could go down while we still use oil and natural gas if we increased the sequestration on land and sea. In fact the atmospheric level could go down while we still use coal but, because coal is so high in carbon and coal for power is so inefficient as well, it is desirable to phase out coal as fast as possible. America has reduced its carbon emissions by cutting the percentage of electricity generated by coal in half but sadly some supposed climate activists are keeping the remaining coal plants in business by blocking new natural gas power plants to replace them and to backup solar and wind.
The Get Real Alliance as its name says is all about getting real about the climate issue and other topics. It is a wishful dream to think that solar power can be reliable 24/7 power when the sun only is strong enough to make power for about six hours a day depending on time of year and weather. Power output is about half in the winter than summer. Solar is fine to add to the power mix but it needs to be backed up 100% by fast acting natural gas powerplants. Battery proponents think they have a solution but battery systems are generally sized and designed for short term power delivery with frequent recharges not providing power for days of cloudy weather. No one talks about how many extra solar panels and batteries will be needed to provide reliable power for even one cloudy day..
What if there is a way to make the world carbon negative while we still use oil and gas that costs less and actually solves other very tangible problems of declining fertility, growing deserts, dying forests and massive soil loss. A large number of people don’t think carbon dioxide is a problem worth fundamentally changing our way of life to solve. The people who do think carbon dioxide is a big problem really just propose super expensive and life changing solutions that just minimize the rise and potential damages. They propose no solution to the big problem of sick forests full of dead wood. There is a lot of talk about how bad things could be at the end of the century as far as climate but very little on the fact that much of the world’s topsoil could be gone by then and deserts could be much bigger further reducing productive land. We need to make soil a priority and if we restore the soil to a mineral rich condition with remineralization and changes to agriculture we will solve the climate issue. The opportunities are great in America as we have a large amount of good soil left and huge potential to sequester more carbon than we emit with the proposed program. To really make the world carbon negative takes a global effort but it can be done affordably with great positive benefits.
Nothing in life is free despite the irrational thinking there is a free lunch sometimes. Even the miracle of photosynthesis needs soil nutrients to do its job of creating biomass and food from air and water with sunshine as the power source. It takes money to change the world for the better and the best way to solve the climate crisis is to impose a tax on carbon emissions that goes to pay people to naturally remove more carbon from the air than total carbon emissions, versus by expensive and unproductive technical means. We need faster growing forests and marine ecosystemsin addition to better soil and sea conditions generally which can hold more carbon. Here is what can be done with a non-punitive affordable carbon tax here in the USA.
Now let’s assume we want to sequester 2 billion tons of carbon, which is more than America emits. American fossil fuel consumption on average is 1.5 billion tons of carbon, priced at around $100 per ton equates to $150 billion dollars. There is even more from cement production. How should we spend it to get the most good? Here is a list of benefits:
This is the case even with the carbon tax and having the advantage of lowering the carbon output of the vehicles by five tons of carbon a year. This means less revenue in the future for the carbon sequestration fund but makes the program revenue positive for low income families. Many people buy used vehicles that have a much higher rate of expensive failures with no warranties. They are unable to buy new vehicles due to not having cash for a down payment and/or poor credit. There could be higher grant payments for more efficient cars or electric cars to further lower carbon output while financially helping lower income people better their lives. Electric costs will also go up with a carbon tax, and there would need to be energy-saving programs to subsidize more efficient light bulbs, appliances, and heating and cooling systems. A ton less carbon emitted per year is a permanent reduction in carbon emissions that has lasting value. Spending $3000 dollars to remove 2 tons of carbon from the air is a slow payout over ten years of $150 dollars per ton of carbon removed, but it also really helps get the program approved.
Assume two million cars the first year is a big jump in new car production, but some of the cars might be high mpg cars. Electric bills’ share of carbon tax could be prorated so small electric customers don’t see much of an increase, while larger customers pay the most. There are lots of people who struggle just to buy food and are on the edge of bankruptcy. Giving the poorest families a direct subsidy check is probably politically necessary for this plan’s passage. Program cost: $30 billion and would likely be lower in future years but so would carbon tax revenue.
Displaced workers such as coal miners will need some assistance to transition to new better jobs, and new jobs will need to be created in coal mining states. Hopefully, there will be basalt rock deposits that can be mined for rock dust that should be a growing industry that uses mining skills. There are about 50,000 coal miners still working, and32,000 of them work underground. A lot of American coal is exported. Even with a $100 dollar per ton tax, this coal will be sold to countries that have no immediate option to shift from coal burning for their power. Another issue is coal miner pensions as many miners are covered by a company pension. Factories to build solar biochar machines could be done in coal mining country to provide new jobs. Paying generous retraining benefits is probably needed, politically and ethically.
The reduction in carbon emissions by switching from coal burning to a mixture of renewables and natural gas is enormous and makes paying miners a very cost-effective atmospheric CO₂ reduction method. Paying $100,000 per worker is $5 billion over several years to get them working sustainably. Politically, and humanely, we need to fund the coal miner pension program as well perhaps not with a lump sum but agreeing to pay in, as needed, in the future. Legislation effectively making coal totally uneconomic is somewhat confiscatory, like eminent domain, and as part of the program, the coal companies should be bought at a low, but fair, price based on current values. The mines could be saved/preserved for posterity in case there is ever a need for coal. Program cost: $10 billion dollars. A coal buyout is a transitional expense that is short term for the most part, and the funds can be used for remineralization in later years.
So, for more than $150 billion a year we can estimate sequestration of 3-billion tons or more of carbon a year for an average cost of less than $50 per ton. Now remember this is carbon being sequestered, not CO₂ being removed. CO₂ is two-thirds oxygen so that translates to removing twice as much CO₂ as America emits with its fossil fuel use, or nearly a third of global fossil fuel emissions. Some measures are not permanent removal from the carbon cycle but are cheap processes per ton, and if sustained, do lower atmospheric levels until reversed—if they are ever reversed. Others, such as biochar, are more expensive but their benefits are nearly permanent. Now, the expensive programs that don’t sequester much carbon in the first year have lasting valuable benefits that can grow over time as the carbon tax revenue falls due to less fossil fuel use. Things like holistic grazing and cover crops take money and a management mindset change to get started, but they produce substantial economic gain once they’re implemented that will further improve rural life and profitability. This estimate is pretty conservative but shows the incredible potential that nature has to reverse atmospheric carbon rise. There have been numerous reports generated that offer much lower carbon sequestration numbers, but there is a widespread lack of knowledge about the benefits of remineralization or even holistic grazing. Despite decades of success restoring grasslands, Allan Savory’s methods are still not widely adopted.
This proposal is just a start on what a national program will do and needs a lot of input and research to optimize it. Many of the programs to help get the program enacted like supporting the coal miners and compensating the coal companies for being put out of business by the tax are humane and necessary to get a tax passed, but will go away in future years and allow more to be spent on remineralization and forest reclamation. Emissions will go down a lot with improved efficiency and elimination of coal in the US.
A Global Program is needed with much larger amount spent on remineralization as so much of the world is very badly demineralized including the precious Amazon. Sharply higher timber growth can play a big part in making the world carbon negative. We can eliminate world hunger in a sustainable and carbon negative way with a move to regenerative agriculture and holistic grazing.
Your help is needed to change the mindset of climate policy advocates away from the impractical and harsh proposals to cut carbon emissions to zero and focus instead on the positive and productive plan proposed with sensible increased use of renewables that actually make reliable power such as biogas, algae fuel, new wind power-gas turbine designs, wave energy and geothermal. Turning the world carbon negative while we still use oil and natural gas takes away the urgency to make rash mandated changes towards unreliable power like current wind and solar designs. We need your support so sign up on the website at www.getrealalliance.org and social media and spread the word!!!