What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

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What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby mathmannix » Tue Mar 18, 2014 7:36 pm UTC

Soda Sequestration

How much CO2 is contained in the world's stock of bottled fizzy drinks? How much soda would be needed to bring atmospheric CO2 back to preindustrial levels?

Brandon Seah


Image

Randall didn't answer the first question... How much worse would it be for the atmosphere if we opened all the cans? Of course, that's going to happen eventually anyway... except for maybe all the Tab.
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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby rmsgrey » Tue Mar 18, 2014 7:49 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:Soda Sequestration

How much CO2 is contained in the world's stock of bottled fizzy drinks? How much soda would be needed to bring atmospheric CO2 back to preindustrial levels?

Brandon Seah


Randall didn't answer the first question... How much worse would it be for the atmosphere if we opened all the cans? Of course, that's going to happen eventually anyway... except for maybe all the Tab.


What do cans have to do with it? The question is about bottled drinks...

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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby mathmannix » Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:05 pm UTC

Good point. I guess I was thrown off by (1) the picture above and (2) the fact that they don't really sell pop in bottles anymore in the U.S., except in the larger 2-liter plastic bottles, which are nowhere near as popular as cans. There are other types of bottles sold, like the 20-ounce bottles, but cans still outsell, volume-wise, by a landslide.
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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby Mikeski » Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:31 pm UTC

Well, it was a two-part question.
1) how much CO2 is already in bottles of soda/beer? (which may be a misworded question about "all containers of soda/beer".)
2) how much soda would we need to hold a bunch of what's in the air already? (container unspecified; and I guess we don't need any more beer?)

...since answering (2) doesn't require that it be stored in bottles, and bottles don't stack as well as cans, it makes sense to use cans if we're carpeting the earth a few containers deep.

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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby naien » Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:43 pm UTC

I was annoyed enough about neither of the questions being answered that I came along and created an account to post my two cents, also. That's all.

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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby Mikeski » Tue Mar 18, 2014 9:11 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:Randall didn't answer the first question... How much worse would it be for the atmosphere if we opened all the cans? Of course, that's going to happen eventually anyway... except for maybe all the Tab.

Can we derive that from the numbers in the What If? 2.2g per can, 1 can per human per 5 days.

Since the global supply is probably not increasing or decreasing at a measurable rate (there is not, to my knowledge, a Strategic Root Beer Reserve), all we need is a guess for "how far ahead is Coca-Cola bottling all this stuff"? If the world is sitting on a one-month supply (about 6 cans per human), that's 2.2g/can x 6 cans/human x 7.1e9 humans. So about 94 kilotons of carbon dioxide in all the drinks.

However, I don't think we're using "fossil" carbon to charge up our cans, so the net effect on the atmosphere from soda/beer consumption is zero. So the answer to the question about how much worse it would be if we opened them all up is "it doesn't matter." Unless you also assume that Coke & friends wouldn't replace them, then the answer is more in the "gnat fart" range (the atmosphere has 3 teratons of CO2 in it, adding 94 kilotons isn't much as a one-time event, when it all came out of the atmosphere in the first place. Volcanoes add about twenty times that much every year.)

...and the "preindustrial levels" question is also imprecise... if we mean "to the levels of CO2 during dinosaur times", which are as preindustrial as the dark ages, we have to add another 10 teratons or so to the atmosphere. :wink:
Last edited by Mikeski on Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:18 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby dalcde » Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:16 pm UTC

Mikeski wrote:However, I don't think we're using "fossil" carbon to charge up our cans, so the net effect on the atmosphere from soda/beer consumption is zero.

So... the soda factories run on solar power?

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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby Mikeski » Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:22 pm UTC

dalcde wrote:
Mikeski wrote:However, I don't think we're using "fossil" carbon to charge up our cans, so the net effect on the atmosphere from soda/beer consumption is zero.

So... the soda factories run on solar power?

Their power source does not wind up sealed in the can, so that's irrelevant to the questions at hand.

(And most non-carbon power generation is hydroelectric, with nuclear probably second. Solar and wind are humorous things that politicians talk about and engineers roll their eyes at. OK for spikes in demand, useless for base load, because calm days and clouds happen.)

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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:45 pm UTC

naien wrote:I was annoyed enough about neither of the questions being answered that I came along and created an account to post my two cents, also. That's all.
How do you figure neither? If you bothered doing the math yourself, you'd see that the 450 quadrillion cans amounts to about 130ppm of CO2, which is the increase from pre-industrial levels. (And the same numbers with Mikeski's estimate put the total quantity currently in cans at 12 parts per trillion. Also known as 0.0006% of the amount we're already adding to the atmosphere every year through other means.
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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby Mikeski » Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:21 pm UTC

I wrote:So about 94 megatons kilotons of carbon dioxide in all the drinks.

And I misplaced a decimal, that's only 94 kilotons, not 94 megatons. Fixing previous post as well.

And that's just soda, actually, and I guess part of the original question was "fizzy drinks". I'll assume champagne is lost in the noise, but I should add beer.

Kirin says we drink about 190 billion liters a year, as a planet.

(Calculating from 1-can-of-soda-per-5-days, we drink about 184 billion liters of soda per year as a planet. Which is how I caught that kilo/mega snafu up there. Coke is fizzier than Bud, but not 1000 times fizzier. D'oh! I think I converted grams to kg, and kg to metric tons, but only divided by 1000 once. And this, children, is why we do math on paper and not in our heads, especially if we're gathering data from a couple other web pages at the same time.)

A bit of poking around online and averaging some results makes "5g CO2 per liter of beer" a reasonable back-of-the-envelope estimate.

So, if we assume the same one-month rolling supply that I did for the soda, 1/12 of 190 billion liters times 5g/L = about 8e10 grams of CO2 stored up in beer.... 80 kilotons.

so beer and soda together represent 174 kilotons of CO2 stored up, again assuming a one-month supply in the channels. Multiply or divide if you think we store more or less.

(And I know beer doesn't use "fossil" carbon, since it gets its carbonation from yeast eating sugar.)
Last edited by Mikeski on Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:43 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby evilfelix » Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:40 pm UTC

I'm mildly surprised no one was interested in how high you could possibly stack cans before the bottom layer bust.
By assuming 1440 lb burst load, using standard 12 fl oz US cans, 713 ft, 2 and 3/4 inches, neglecting deformation.

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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby Eshru » Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:00 am UTC

Judging by the time I've worked at a Pepsi bottling plant and how often we bottled a given soda, I would say 1 month is the upper limit of how much we have in reserve, and it might be as low as two weeks. In fact, two weeks would be my guess, one weeks worth in the bottling plants and another weeks worth at retail outlets.

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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:01 am UTC

I really want a soda after all this discussion.

brb gotta get a root beer from the corner store.
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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby Mikeski » Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:04 am UTC

Eshru wrote:Judging by the time I've worked at a Pepsi bottling plant and how often we bottled a given soda, I would say 1 month is the upper limit of how much we have in reserve, and it might be as low as two weeks. In fact, two weeks would be my guess, one weeks worth in the bottling plants and another weeks worth at retail outlets.

So "a month" is probably a decent guess, since the consumer often keeps a small supply on hand in their fridge/pantry, as well. Stores tend to switch "Pepsi things on sale, Coke things on sale" every other week, so brand-loyalists need a two-week supply. (A USA-centric assumption, yes.)

Thanks for the data!

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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby Sandor » Wed Mar 19, 2014 8:56 am UTC

Was anybody else put out by the "CO2 in the atmosphere" graph that doesn't have its vertical axis starting from zero (a truncated graph)?
Image
This is classic How to lie with statistics trick, and I was surprised see Randall employing it in a climate change related graph.

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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby cellocgw » Wed Mar 19, 2014 11:43 am UTC

Sandor wrote:Was anybody else put out by the "CO2 in the atmosphere" graph that doesn't have its vertical axis starting from zero (a truncated graph)?


No, some of us (me :oops: ) considered that fairly obvious. 'specially since there never was and never will be a time when the atmospheric CO2 will be anywhere close to zero.

You might have had a more valid point if he'd plotted the Y-scale in 1000x bigger units, thus forcing the chart to look nearly flat.
Since GLR wanted to show the derivative, i.e. change from a long-term time period when the curve really was flat, this is a reasonable chart.
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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby dalcde » Wed Mar 19, 2014 11:53 am UTC

cellocgw wrote:
Sandor wrote:Was anybody else put out by the "CO2 in the atmosphere" graph that doesn't have its vertical axis starting from zero (a truncated graph)?


No, some of us (me :oops: ) considered that fairly obvious. 'specially since there never was and never will be a time when the atmospheric CO2 will be anywhere close to zero.

You might have had a more valid point if he'd plotted the Y-scale in 1000x bigger units, thus forcing the chart to look nearly flat.
Since GLR wanted to show the derivative, i.e. change from a long-term time period when the curve really was flat, this is a reasonable chart.


And we wouldn't be able to see the annual cycle if the axis started from zero.

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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby rmsgrey » Wed Mar 19, 2014 1:22 pm UTC

The time axis doesn't start from zero either

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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby donbock » Wed Mar 19, 2014 1:35 pm UTC

In 2008, Al production was 55.5 Mt from ore and 17.8 Mt from recycled scrap.
Production Al from scrap requires 20 times less energy than from ore; assume CO2 emissions are also 20 times lower.
In 2006, average CO2 emission due to Al production was 0.2 GtCO2.
Assume 2006 and 2008 had same production and emission levels, then CO2 emission ~= 0.0035 GtCO2 / MtAl
Citing the source of this information gets my post flagged as spam. I googled "how much co2 emission from aluminum production"

450 quadrillion (10^15) cans at 0.5 oz of aluminum per can ~= 7,000,000 MtAl ~= 25,000 GtCO2 emissions ~= 3200 ppm CO2
For every Mt of CO2 pulled from the atmosphere to carbonate the beverages, aluminum production for the cans to hold it emits 25 Mt of CO2.
Whoops.

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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby cellocgw » Wed Mar 19, 2014 2:00 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:The time axis doesn't start from zero either


Cue the AD vs. CE and 3 billion vs. 6000 wars. :twisted:

Besides, time zero was apparently about 1e-35 seconds prior to the beginning of inflation! Better use a log scale.
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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby keithl » Wed Mar 19, 2014 2:38 pm UTC

cellocgw wrote:
Sandor wrote:Was anybody else put out by the "CO2 in the atmosphere" graph that doesn't have its vertical axis starting from zero (a truncated graph)?


No, some of us (me :oops: ) considered that fairly obvious. 'specially since there never was and never will be a time when the atmospheric CO2 will be anywhere close to zero.

You might have had a more valid point if he'd plotted the Y-scale in 1000x bigger units, thus forcing the chart to look nearly flat.
Since GLR wanted to show the derivative, i.e. change from a long-term time period when the curve really was flat, this is a reasonable chart.

Since there wasn't a CO2 monitor on Mauna Kea before the beginning of this chart, I suppose one could put this accurately measured data on a much larger chart which would include ice core data running back 10,000 years to the pre-agriculture-and-herding 180ppm, and tell a story the climate-ignorers would really find upsetting, with a vertical hockey stick on the extreme right.

It would also upset the blame-it-all-on-combustion land-use-change-ignorers.

But then, the last image of Soda Sequestration showing oil poured down a well is a poster for the fracking-damages-water-tables-ignorers, the developing-world-needs-energy-ignorers, and the oil-barrels-are-way-too-heavy-to-lift-ignorers.

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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby Mikeski » Wed Mar 19, 2014 3:49 pm UTC

keithl wrote:and the oil-barrels-are-way-too-heavy-to-lift-ignorers.

At least that group has proof! :mrgreen:

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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby squall_line » Wed Mar 19, 2014 3:54 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:Good point. I guess I was thrown off by (1) the picture above and (2) the fact that they don't really sell pop in bottles anymore in the U.S., except in the larger 2-liter plastic bottles, which are nowhere near as popular as cans. There are other types of bottles sold, like the 20-ounce bottles, but cans still outsell, volume-wise, by a landslide.


Citation for #2? Here's my refutation, at least:

There are many other sizes of plastic (and glass) bottle versions of soda, excluding the 20 oz. and 2 l. There's the .5l, the 1l, the 8 oz, the 24 oz, etc. All nicely packaged with carrier handles and plastic rings, or sold individually in convenience stores, vending machines, grocery stores, home electronics stores, restaurants, sporting venues... In fact, aluminum and glass are verboten in most sporting/entertainment venues in the U.S. due to cut hazards, so plastic reigns supreme when sold to individual consumers at such venues. See also: the increase in plastic beer bottles, which are more often found at sports venues than in stores.

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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby Mikeski » Wed Mar 19, 2014 4:17 pm UTC

keithl wrote:Since there wasn't a CO2 monitor on Mauna Kea before the beginning of this chart, I suppose one could put this accurately measured data on a much larger chart which would include ice core data running back 10,000 years to the pre-agriculture-and-herding 180ppm, and tell a story the climate-ignorers would really find upsetting, with a vertical hockey stick on the extreme right.

Or you can add a tiny nub to the end of one like this
Image
to really upset the CO2-uber-alles faction.

It is very easy to lie with statistics, isn't it? :twisted:

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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby chenille » Wed Mar 19, 2014 5:25 pm UTC

Mikeski wrote:Or you can add a tiny nub to the end of one like this...to really upset the CO2-uber-alles faction.

Huh? That's a graph showing, for instance, that the Permo-Carboniferous and Neogene ice ages happened when carbon dioxide was at its lowest levels; and that it was much higher than now in periods much warmer than what life is currently adapted to. Why would people who accept it has a large role in climate be upset at that at all?

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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby Mikeski » Wed Mar 19, 2014 5:46 pm UTC

chenille wrote:
Mikeski wrote:Or you can add a tiny nub to the end of one like this...to really upset the CO2-uber-alles faction.

Huh? That's a graph showing, for instance, that the Permo-Carboniferous and Neogene ice ages happened when carbon dioxide was at its lowest levels

...and the Andean-Saharan one happened at the second-highest CO2 peak (~450 MYBP). Two out of three ain't bad, though.

The point of my comment and the previous one was "if you add the last 200 years to a 10,000 year chart, it looks huge. If you add the last 200 years to a 500,000,000 year chart, it's invisible." So it's both amazingly huge and completely ignorable? No, it's just lying with statistics.

...in fact, this is why I chose the graph I did, from a page explaining why fossil plants and animals are so much bigger than they are now (both more O2 and CO2 means you can have bigger living things.) Trying to find one on a site about climate was pointless; they're all too busy lying-with-statistics in one direction or the other.

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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby chenille » Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:04 pm UTC

Mikeski wrote:...and the Andean-Saharan one happened at the second-highest CO2 peak (~450 MYBP). Two out of three ain't bad, though.

Ok, if you want me to be specific: it shows that the lowest levels of carbon dioxide go with ice ages, though some may occur at other times too; and that periods with higher carbon dioxide than now have nearly all been warmer than what present animals are adapted to, with some exceptions. I would be interested to know more about why the Saharan-Andean glaciation is an exception, though; I have never found too much that discusses the causes of these long term shifts.

If your point is about the size of the modern spike, I'm afraid I have to disagree, once you know it is not a measuring artifact it looks significant to me in either case. Because whether things adapt to a change depends not on its magnitude but its rate, and on the 500 million year chart the end spike looks tiny but is still peculiarly vertical - which tells me I should zoom in to learn more.

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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby squall_line » Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:22 pm UTC

chenille wrote:
Mikeski wrote:Or you can add a tiny nub to the end of one like this...to really upset the CO2-uber-alles faction.

Huh? That's a graph showing, for instance, that the Permo-Carboniferous and Neogene ice ages happened when carbon dioxide was at its lowest levels; and that it was much higher than now in periods much warmer than what life is currently adapted to. Why would people who accept it has a large role in climate be upset at that at all?


Because the assertion from keithl was:
keithl wrote:I suppose one could put this accurately measured data on a much larger chart which would include ice core data running back 10,000 years to the pre-agriculture-and-herding 180ppm, and tell a story the climate-ignorers would really find upsetting, with a vertical hockey stick on the extreme right.

It would also upset the blame-it-all-on-combustion land-use-change-ignorers.

But then, the last image of Soda Sequestration showing oil poured down a well is a poster for the fracking-damages-water-tables-ignorers, the developing-world-needs-energy-ignorers, and the oil-barrels-are-way-too-heavy-to-lift-ignorers.


The assertion being made by keithl is that all of the CO2 increases are a result of Human Activity, namely combustion and land use changes. It may have been confusing to understand the assertion because it was buried in ad-hominem attacks and demonizing language in which keithl called those who disagree with him "ignorers" (a subtle, yet distinct difference from the usual ad-hominem of "deniers").

Mikeski's comment was that graphs showing much higher CO2 concentrations before Human Activity were sure to upset the "CO2 uber-alles faction", which roughly translates to "CO2 above all faction", indicating that there are those who think that CO2 concentrations (which they believe are the ultimate indication and/or cause of Climate Change) are purely driven by Human Activity.

Correlation doesn't imply causation. Were CO2 levels high because it was warm, or was it warm because CO2 levels were high? And who wants to live in an Ice Age? Not me, but that's beside the point.

Adapting to change is what has allowed humans to survive (and even thrive) in so many different parts of the globe as well as off the globe. And adaptation is MUCH cheaper than hubristically assuming that we can somehow change the climate itself. I'm still not sure that I've ever seen an answer (satisfactory or otherwise) to the question of, "if we found that temperatures were starting to cool drastically and we were on the verge of another Ice Age, what could we do as Humans to stop it from happening?" That is, after all, the conter-factual to the assertion that we are causing the Earth to warm through our current actions. Oops, I mean, that we are causing climate to change (whatever the current flavor of the month happens to be in that regard: more hurricanes, fewer hurricanes, warmer summers, cooler summers, record snowfall (with lower water volume than previous non-record snowfalls), record droughts, etc.) through our actions. In the 70's, we were on the verge of a New Ice Age. In the 20-teens, we're on the verge of global firestorms, apparently. Many people have diverted significant amounts of money from the market to address these panics, but someone is profiting, or else it wouldn't continue.

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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby chenille » Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:03 pm UTC

squall_line wrote:Correlation doesn't imply causation. Were CO2 levels high because it was warm, or was it warm because CO2 levels were high? And who wants to live in an Ice Age?

Wow, you're assuming a pretty thick audience here, aren't you? Everyone here understands that correlation is not causation, but that doesn't mean the latter is some dark mystery forever beyond the reach of science; there are ways of supporting it, of which correlation is usually one part. If you're honestly ignorant of ideas of causation here, there is a lot of interesting work on climate changes, both the large slow prehistoric and small fast modern ones.

And nobody wants to live in an ice age, but most of us would want the climate to move away from the current interglacial type slowly at best. Everyone here understands the people and other animals can adapt over time, but if that was a given, there would never be extinctions of species or cultures. Rates are important. Again, you might want to look at the work scientists have been doing.

Of course declaring by assumption that human influence on climate is a hubristic idea, and bragging you don't know what current climate change predictions are, makes it sound like you aren't so interested in understanding that work. If that's unfortunately the case, and you're just trying a don't-trust-scientists-assume-we-know-nothing-and-teach-the-controversy-style gallop, you should know that most people here are neither so ignorant of science nor so contemptuous of scientists for that to gain too much traction.

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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:07 pm UTC

squall_line wrote:And who wants to live in an Ice Age? Not me, but that's beside the point.

Every human who has ever lived, including you and me, has lived in an ice age. Look at the poles. Are there ice caps? Then you're in an ice age.

Of course all of human history has occurred during an interglacial period of that ice age, and I don't think many of us would want to live in a glacial period. But living in an interglacial period of an ice age (where there are ice caps, but they don't reach down across most of the land masses) is as different from living in a glacial period (where the ice caps reach down across most of the land masses) as it is from living outside of an ice age (where there are no ice caps). All of our history has occurred in moderately-cool times, where ice exists, but doesn't cover everything. We know we (as a species at least, who knows about civilization as we know it) can survive glacial periods, because we have before. But no human has ever lived outside of an ice age. When this ice age ends (whenever that happens, for whatever reason, and assuming we're still around to see it), it will be an unprecedented event for humanity. We will have to adapt in ways we never have before.

That said, humans are, are you say, great at adapting, and I'm not a fan of ends-justify-the-means kind of thinking, so while I trust the scientists to get the climatological facts right, I'm not ready to jump onto every policy bandwagon that waves those facts around in support of itself. A lot of environmental policies are justifiable as enforcing correct means in general (like anti-pollution laws), and we have a lot of good economic reasons to pursue technologies that would remediate humans' impact on the global climate (like renewable energy), so a lot of things that are advocated to combat climate change are things that we should be doing anyway. But tales of doom for select parts of the planet centuries down the road should not be accepted as justifying exercises of power that would otherwise not be acceptable.

It's not like one day the climate is suddenly going to "break", and a wall of water will flood the coastal cities and all the farms will catch fire. It will take centuries, and as some places become less hospitable, other places will become more so. Every city in North America was built over the past few centuries. If it comes down to it, we have time enough (and obvious natural incentives) to relocate farms one by one from Iowa to Ontario as the arability of land changes, to expand cities inland and abandon beachfront properties one by one as sea levels change, and so on.
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chenille
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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby chenille » Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:20 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:If it comes down to it, we have time enough (and obvious natural incentives) to relocate farms one by one from Iowa to Ontario as the arability of land changes, to expand cities inland and abandon beachfront properties one by one as sea levels change, and so on.

It would be nice if changes always happened so steadily and people reacted to them so sensibly. Maybe stable countries can, but you can already see the opposite in Syria, which had an peculiarly long and severe drought from 2006 to 2011. The government did not respond to it well, farms fell apart and millions of people ended up being displaced. And this by most accounts added significantly to the increasingly volatile situation where the country went from relative stability to its current civil war.

This is just the sort of thing climate change is expected to increase, and I don't think I'm being too cynical in imagining Syria won't be the only country too brittle to handle stresses of that sort. :(
Last edited by chenille on Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:23 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

Mikeski
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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby Mikeski » Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:21 pm UTC

If the problem, as chenille states, is keeping the climate constant (or "constant enough") for currently-existing species and cultures, the first question is "without our intervention, what would be happening"? We're in a temporary interglacial period right now, so things should get quite a bit colder in the medium term (1500-20000 years or so, depending on whose models you believe...I don't think there's a model that says the current interglacial is actually the end stage of the Pliocene-Quaternary ice age). So promoting warming would seem to help, there. I like Canadians too much to put them all under several hundred feet of ice like they were during the last glacial stretch. :)

So let's say it's our job to maintain the current climate forever.

If we want to cool the planet drastically with today's technology, could we? Probably, by hanging some particulates in the upper atmosphere to increase the world's albedo and reflect away some solar radiation, for example. I mean, if we're worried about a relatively-weak greenhouse gas like CO2, I'm sure we can reflect away enough light to totally swamp out CO2's influence. Probably for less money than the many trillions of dollars (and millions or billions of lives) that cutting CO2 to preindustrial levels would cost.

If we want to warm the planet drastically with today's technology, could we? I'm pretty sure we'd have to do something substantially more damaging than the above. I'm not sure we could hang mirrors in space to reflect enough additional sunlight to us, for instance, and filling the atmosphere with really-effective greenhouse gases would suck. (Water's a really good one, but it tends to keep falling out of the air. heh.)

I think the safest thing to do is what we've always done... expand our technology as quickly as possible so we can do better modeling, and have more options (and cheaper ones, and ones with fewer side effects) if said modeling (or, y'know, actual reality) says we have to fix things. Hamstringing the world's current technological and economic advances in the name of CO2 reduction seems entirely backwards.

But then, I'm an engineer, of course I think more and better man-made stuff is the solution...

chenille
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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby chenille » Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:33 pm UTC

Mikeski wrote:1500-20000 years or so, depending on whose models you believe...

Good lord. I am really the only one who understands the difference between these time scales? A century ago there was a Canada; 1500 years ago there were a variety of native farming and hunting communities; 20000 years ago they weren't even people there. Worrying about what happens to Canadians in the next century or two is important to us now, and worrying about what happens to them 20 millennia from now is science fiction. As I keep saying, rates matter, and yet here you are treating different orders of magnitude as if they were the same sort of thing.

Mikeski wrote:Hamstringing the world's current technological and economic advances in the name of CO2 reduction seems entirely backwards.

Agreed, and that's why very few people have advocated that, unless you count increased consumption on its own as an economic advance. For instance, the idea that we should be developing alternative energy sources to fossil fuels is a pretty common one. Geo-engineering is often suggested, but things like changing carbon dioxide and blocking the sun affect much more than just temperature, so it's not actually a cheaper and safer sort of solution.

Anyway, is this your real concern? You're changing topics from representation of graphs and what kind of influence carbon dioxide has to what people might do in response, so I'm not really sure what you're trying to get at.

Mikeski
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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby Mikeski » Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:54 pm UTC

I was discussing graphs. Then I replied to other folks who were talking about global warming itself. I stated my position there, and won't belabor it since this is the what-if forum. (If it goes much further than this, I suppose the mods should move those posts to the religious wars forum, anyway. Where I'll definitely drop things since I only read comics, what if, music, and food.)

rto
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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby rto » Wed Mar 19, 2014 11:28 pm UTC

In addition to everything else, I believe that aluminum production is an extremely intense carbon-generating process. You’d be fighting a losing battle just manufacturing the cans.

NotAllThere
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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby NotAllThere » Thu Mar 20, 2014 5:33 am UTC

rto wrote:In addition to everything else, I believe that aluminum production is an extremely intense carbon-generating process. You’d be fighting a losing battle just manufacturing the cans.
That's one of the reasons why aluminium recycling is actually effective. It takes less energy than making a new one.

I was put out by the suggestion that you'd put all the oil and gas back to solve the problem. That's clearly nonsense. All you have to do is not burn it. (And if you did try to put it back people would get all upset about pollution).
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keithl
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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby keithl » Thu Mar 20, 2014 9:02 am UTC

CO2 is indeed a "weak" greenhouse gas - in the same sense that a hydrogen bomb is a weak star. The problem is that human existence is weak, too. We cover every hectare of habitable land, then some not so habitable land, then downright hostile land, and chew it up and make it worse. It doesn't take much to push marginal people over the margin. Sometimes pushed people push back. It isn't safe to share a planet with folks with nothing left to lose.

It's sad that most engineers don't make the effort to understand what CO2 does in an atmospheric column that stretches from 100KPa and 0-30C at sea level to -90C at the mesopause near the vacuum of space. Indeed, CO2 has weak effects in the well-mixed troposphere, but quite a lot of effect in the stratosphere and mesosphere where water vapor is gone, the column cools, radiative transfer dominates, and the CO2 shades from opaque to transparent as it thins out.

A significant contribution to modern understanding was made by Gilbert Plass, who studied infrared transmission through thin atmosphere at Lockheed, working with engineers designing heat-seeking missiles for high altitude aerial combat. Real engineers need to understand this stuff, both for finding targets and for finding practical alternatives to the ignorant fantasies of both the climate-ignorers and the economics-ignorers. I don't use the word "denier" because it implies some understanding of what is denied, and you have to ignore a lot of phenomena and physics to come to the conclusions most people of both "sides" come to.

I study atmospheric behavior, not to justify expensive nonsense like windmills and solar farms, but because some of the alternate alternatives I work on such as the Launch Loop operate in the upper atmosphere and have to cool off. Another idea, Server Sky, pushes signals through that atmosphere. My brain farts might not work, but somebody else's might. We need lots of engineers exploring lots of ideas, not because we fear the future, but because staggeringly profitable opportunities might compensate for our extreme laziness, and keep the party going for a few more million years.

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Jackpot777
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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby Jackpot777 » Thu Mar 20, 2014 1:26 pm UTC

Sandor wrote:Was anybody else put out by the "CO2 in the atmosphere" graph that doesn't have its vertical axis starting from zero (a truncated graph)?
Image
This is classic How to lie with statistics trick, and I was surprised see Randall employing it in a climate change related graph.


I for one was happy I wasn't made to scroll down a few thousand pixels of image height. Now: if the numbers were actually messed up in the graph like the data point on the right of this graph...

Image

...well, then I'd be talking about lies and statistics.

Mikeski
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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby Mikeski » Thu Mar 20, 2014 7:06 pm UTC

Well, "CO2 in the atmosphere at a particular place" is a measure of... CO2 in the atmosphere at that place. Picking axes that make it look like you want is the entirety of the misdirection, there. (Not that I think picking axes that make the seasonal cycle apparent is a "misdirection". It's "clarity" in this case.)

"Unemployment rate" is pure funny numbers even before you graph it horribly wrong. (Excluding the "discouraged workers" being the biggest lie in it.) Fox just needs to stop believing the government, then they won't have to lie so blatantly to make it look bad. :wink: :lol:

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gmalivuk
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Re: What-If 0088: "Soda Sequestration"

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Mar 20, 2014 7:52 pm UTC

NotAllThere wrote:
rto wrote:In addition to everything else, I believe that aluminum production is an extremely intense carbon-generating process. You’d be fighting a losing battle just manufacturing the cans.
That's one of the reasons why aluminium recycling is actually effective. It takes less energy than making a new one.
Isn't basically all metal recycling like this? Making something out of new metal first requires that you melt it down and get rid of impurities, which ore has a lot more of than the already pretty pure metal sent in to be recycled.

It's probably an even bigger difference with aluminum, though, because of how much electricity it takes for new stuff.
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