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Entropy production delusion

It is common in knowledgeable circles to talk about the development of civilization in terms of entropy discussion. The term 'entropy...

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Carbon bubble

The possibility of what is being called the 'carbon bubble' is exciting discussion in the media because of its financial implications. The prospect that appreciable fossil fuel, oil, coal and gas, will remain underground due to the efforts to reduce emissions from their use is affecting the decisions of the oil and gas industry, so investors.

Many terms used by governments, corporations and the media are misleading, often to promote vested interests. Investors, particularly those who hope to increase their savings to enable a pleasing retirement, may be fooled by the seemingly sound comment that there is a 'carbon bubble'. However, those who have some understanding of physical science know that such a quantity cannot exist. Carbon is a solid so how can it be a bubble! They know that it really carbon dioxide that is being referred to. But a bubble! Of course, financial people often talk in terms of bubbles when they are referring to temporary inflated demand. So, does 'carbon bubble' really mean that a temporary surplus of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is causing climate change? Yes and no. It is common knowledge that animals, including humans, breathe out carbon dioxide in what is called respiration. But in one of the marvels of nature, plants take in carbon dioxide to produce carbohydrates by photosynthesis. This balanced cycling of carbon compounds has been going on for eons until clever humans derived means of disrupting the balance. Their technological systems obtain energy from fossil fuels by transforming hydrocarbons to carbon dioxide in the combustion process that emit into the atmosphere from the familiar power station chimneys. Trees also contribute to the consumption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. So the widespread logging has also contributed to the actions decided by humans in disrupting the the cycling of carbon dioxide compounds. But society has not got away with that deleterious disruption of a long established process. It now has to cope with climate change.

As ever, however, selective arguments combined with misleading terminology leads to confusion and lack of understanding. It is a matter for speculation as to how well the oil and gas industry can manage to continue to devastate the environment in order to make money. They have on their side the desires of the populace to continue to have the energy that contributes to their well being as well as needs and wants. And, of course, governments will respond to the demand so of their voters. On the other hand, nature bats last!

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