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Why the Paris Climate Change Agreement Means Nothing

By WallStreetDaily.com Why the Paris Climate Change Agreement Means Nothing

Even if all 197 countries that agreed to the emissions-limiting treaty do what they’ve said they’ll do, we’re on track for a 2.9 to 3.4 degrees Celsius average increase in global temperature.


It just doesn’t matter.

The Paris Agreement — a deal driven by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change — “enters into force” today.

But according to a report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), we’re still on track for a 2.9–3.4 degrees Celsius temperature increase compared with pre-industrial levels.

And that’s even if all 94 current signatories and the 103 countries whose signatures are still outstanding live up to commitments under the Paris Agreement.

In its annual Emissions Gap Report, UNEP concluded that emissions in 2030 will be 12–14 gigatonnes above levels necessary to keep the temperature increase below the 2°C that over the course of the last 40-odd years has become the climate-change speed limit.

First suggested by Yale economist William Nordhaus in 1975, that two degrees is now recognized as a “pragmatic, simple, and straightforward” level beyond which it’s widely accepted Earth will experience changes in precipitation patterns, more droughts and heat waves, stronger hurricanes, rising sea levels, and multiple and varied regional effects.

To have a chance at limiting the global average temperature rise to 2°C means holding 2030 emissions to about 42 gigatonnes. And 2°C only gives us a chance to avoid the worst. Hitting a lower target of 1.5°C “will only reduce, rather than eliminate, impacts.”

That certainly seems dramatic and urgent.

The good news is that there are dramatic and urgent developments taking place in laboratories around the world that may yet give us some hope of surviving climate change.

Take, for instance, the October 12, 2016, announcement by scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee that they “have developed an electrochemical process that uses tiny spikes of carbon and copper to turn carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into ethanol.”

This technology, ramped up to commercial scale, could provide the basis for utility-scale batteries that would support broad adoption of solar and wind for base-load electric power generation.

The good news is that there are dramatic and urgent developments taking place in laboratories around the world that may yet give us some hope of surviving climate change.

It’s also carbon-neutral, because the carbon dioxide created in the process of burning ethanol is reclaimed in the catalytic process.

“We’re taking carbon dioxide, a waste product of combustion, and we’re pushing that combustion reaction backward with very high selectivity to a useful fuel,” said Adam Rondinone, the lead author of the Oak Ridge team’s study.

“Ethanol was a surprise — it’s extremely difficult to go straight from carbon dioxide to ethanol with a single catalyst.”

According to Oak Ridge National Laboratory: “The catalyst’s novelty lies in its nanoscale structure, consisting of copper nanoparticles embedded in carbon spikes. This nano-texturing approach avoids the use of expensive or rare metals such as platinum that limit the economic viability of many catalysts.”

Here’s the thing about the Oak Ridge discovery: It was an accident, “serendipitous.”

So can anything be written — a 1.5°, 2.0°, 2.9°, 3.4°, or any increase in the global average temperature — when beneficial occurrences and/or discoveries like this can still happen?

On another storage note, scientists at Rice University have discovered a new candidate for the U.S. Department of Energy’s benchmarks for materials that would enable the use of clean-burning hydrogen for everyday cars and trucks.

Materials scientists Rouzbeh Shahsavari and Farzaneh Shayeganfar published their work on October 23, 2016, in the American Chemical Society’s journal Langmuir.

Their laboratory work suggests “newly designed 3-D-pillared boron nitride (PBN) and pillared graphene boron nitride (PGBN)… enhance the surface and free volume for storage within the nanomaterial and increase the gravimetric and volumetric hydrogen uptake capacities.”

Here’s the thing about the Oak Ridge discovery: It was an accident, “serendipitous.”

The computer models — which would require months for experimentalists to verify — provide solid evidence of a battery sufficient to power light-duty vehicles in a post-internal-combustion-engine world.

We’re also making incredible advances in photovoltaic technology that will help more and more folks get off the grid — and at the same time drive additional reductions in carbon emissions.

Scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, in New Mexico, published a study in Nature Energy on October 10, 2016, indicating that, according to IEEE Spectrum, “a thin film of quantum dots on everyday glass could be the key to achieving acceptable efficiency in window photovoltaic systems at low cost.”

There is a way to go for Victor Klimov, a nanotechnology researcher at Los Alamos, and his team. Their quantum dots right now produce overall energy efficiency conversion of 1.9%. To be commercially viable, they need to get to 6%.

We’re also making incredible advances in photovoltaic technology that will help more and more folks get off the grid — and at the same time drive additional reductions in carbon emissions.

That may be a matter of increasing quantum dot concentration and getting a better grasp of their absorption properties.

But the process is simple in application on window glass. And theoretically, it’s cheap.

Reducing emissions at the utility level by making solar and wind even more viable replacements for coal-fired electrical power, at the light-duty vehicle level by creating powerful and clean storage technology, and at the residential level by helping more folks get off the grid, combined, will make a significant difference.

Who knows if it’s enough?

But even Bill Murray’s Meatballs crew stuck around to compete after his “It Just Doesn’t Matter” speech the night before the big competition with Camp Mohawk.

And like his beloved Chicago Cubs, Murray’s Camp North Star finally prevailed in the end.


Old Things New

It’s not a classic film by any stretch.

It’s marred by weak casting decisions. Not even Dwight Schultz of The A-Team fame in his first cinematic role or the star power of Paul Newman in the central roles of Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer and Gen. Leslie Groves, respectively, could render it iconic.

It also includes an uncharacteristically poor contribution from Ennio Morricone, whose score here simply doesn’t measure up to the work that earned him international notice — the haunting music he wrote for Sergio Leone’s “Man With No Name Trilogy” — A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

But all this recent activity at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Los Alamos National Laboratory had me thinking about Roland Joffé’s 1989 retelling of the Manhattan Project, Fat Man and Little Boy.

Fresh off managing the construction of the Pentagon, Gen. Groves is tasked, to his dismay, with leading the Allied effort to beat the Germans to the creation of an atomic bomb.

Joffé, who also co-wrote the script, gets the basic arc of the history right. There’s plenty of coverage of Oppenheimer’s politics and personal relationships and Groves’ relentless drive.

He also incorporates an unfortunate “everyman” character in the person of John Cusack’s “Michael Merriman,” a composite of two individuals who did indeed die after “Tickling the Dragon’s Tail” and being exposed to the “Demon core” as part of the Manhattan Project.

This story device smacks of presentism — evaluating the past based on current ideas of right and wrong. Of course, we can now understand the horrors of nuclear war. Perhaps that’s why, for all of our human foibles, we’ve been able to avoid their use for going on 72 years now.

Fat Man and Little Boy is flawed, but it does get you to Oppenheimer’s “I am become death” moment at the Trinity site on July 16, 1945, while providing as much dramatization as such an intellectual journey allows.

Smart Investing,

David Dittman
Editorial Director, Wall Street Daily

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About Louie Lewis

Louie Lewis
Successful forex trading starts with you first. Then comes the actual strategies and techniques. I have been involved with forex and forex trading for a few years now. It is a wonderful way to build wealth. The learning never stops and I want to help others along their journey into this wonderful market of opportunity.

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