In 2014 man emitted no more carbon dioxide into the air than in 2013, this in spite of a world wide economic growth of 3%. I view this as a very good trend, it means we’ve finally been able to grow the economy using better forms of energy than burning carbon-rich rocks.
Most of that was due to installation of wind power in China. In 2014, China added more wind capacity than coal. They’ve got incentive. It’s estimated that more than 600,000 Chinese are killed each year by pollution and a loss of approximately 1.8% of agricultural output due to damage and blocked light caused by pollution.
While the fact that we didn’t increase in man-made global carbon-dioxide in 2014 is good news from a pollution standpoint, it’s also good news from an economic standpoint. It means that renewable environmentally energy sources have become viable enough to contribute effectively to economic growth, and that in a sustainable way.
While coal use is declining in China and the US, oil consumption increased. A lot of this increase was by industrial users of petroleum products and was the result of significantly lower cost domestic supplies. In the long run though I think we can all expect to see oil gradually price itself out of the market.
The US Department of Energy is assisting China in building two molten-salt nuclear fission reactors. These reactors are melt-down proof, can burn actinides that otherwise would keep waste hot for a hundred thousand years, and can extract almost 100% of the energy from Uranium or Thorium where as conventional pressurized water reactors and boiling water reactors used in the United States can only extract about .6% of Uranium’s energy potential and can’t easily utilize Thorium except to the degree it can be bread in a separate breeder reactor into Uranium 233 which is fissile and can be used as a fuel.
Just using the nuclear waste we have sitting in spent fuel rod ponds from conventional reactors, these reactors could provide all the Earth’s electricity needs for 2000 years. I’d like to see them built here so we could start ridding ourselves of some of this long term waste. I am hopeful that if it meets with success in China, it will eventually be adopted here.
Lockheed Martin has a new approach to controlled nuclear fusion that holds great promise. What they don’t tell you in this video is that there is more to it than being high beta, it also has a magnetic field structure that increases in strength as you get away from the centre of the plasma, this is opposite of a Tokamak where the field strength decreases as you get farther from the centre of the plasma. This makes Lockheed’s design inherently stable as opposed to the Tokamak being inherently unstable.
I’ve maintained for years that we don’t have to live in a 6 ft3 cubical with no heat, no light, and a strictly vegetarian diet in order to live in a sustainable manner, and now I believe we are finally headed in that direction.
Threats to that are the Agenda 21 crowd, who do believe that’s how we live, and on the opposite side of the fence, conservatives who would have us live in the same manner as we did in 1950. However, I see more and more resistance forming to Agenda 21, and I see the conservatives dying off so I have reason to hope we’ll get there.