Visit ArabTopics.com

Carbon is not the enemy

by Judith Curry

Design with the natural cycle in mind to ensure that carbon ends up in the right places. — William McDonough

Nature has published a provocative essay entitled Carbon is not the enemy (full text available online).  Excerpts:

Carbon has a bad name. 

But carbon — the element — is not the enemy. Climate change is the result of breakdowns in the carbon cycle caused by us: it is a design failure. Anthropogenic greenhouse gases in the atmosphere make airborne carbon a material in the wrong place, at the wrong dose and for the wrong duration. 

Rather than declare war on carbon emissions, we can work with carbon in all its forms. To enable a new relationship with carbon, I propose a new language — living, durable and fugitive — to define ways in which carbon can be used safely, productively and profitably. Aspirational and clear, it signals positive intentions, enjoining us to do more good rather than simply be less bad.

It is easy to lose one’s way in the climate conversation. Few of the terms are clearly defined or understood. Take ‘carbon neutral’. The European Union considers electricity generated by burning wood as carbon neutral — as if it releases no CO2 at all. Their carbon neutrality relies problematically on the growth and replacement of forests that will demand decades to centuries of committed management. 

Such terms highlight a confusion about the qualities and value of CO2. In the United States, the gas is classified as a commodity by the Bureau of Land Management, a pollutant by the Environmental Protection Agency and as a financial instrument by the Chicago Climate Exchange.

A new language of carbon recognizes the material and quality of carbon so that we can imagine and implement new ways forward. It identifies three categories of carbon — living, durable and fugitive — and a characteristic of a subset of the three, called working carbon. It also identifies three strategies related to carbon management and climate change — carbon positive, carbon neutral and carbon negative.

slide1

Carbon is at the heart of soil health. In healthy ecosystems, when plants convert CO2 into carbon-based sugars — liquid carbon — some flows to shoots, leaves and flowers. The rest nourishes the soil food web, flowing from the roots of plants to communities of soil microbes. In exchange, the microbes share minerals and micronutrients that are essential to plants’ health. Drawn into the leaves of plants, micronutrients increase the rate of photosynthesis, driving new growth, which yields more liquid carbon for the microbes and more micronutrients for the fungi and the plants. Below ground, liquid carbon moves through the food web, where it is transformed into soil carbon — rich, stable and life-giving. This organic matter also gives soil a sponge-like structure, which improves its fertility and its ability to hold and filter water.

This is how a healthy carbon cycle supports life. This flow kept carbon in the right place in the right concentration, tempered the global climate, fuelled growth and nourished the evolution of human societies for 10,000 years.

Let’s keep those carbon bridges open on all landscapes — rural and urban. Let’s use carbon from the atmosphere to fuel biological processes, build soil carbon and reverse climate change. Let’s adopt regenerative farming and urban-design practices to increase photosynthetic capacity, enhance biological activity, build urban food systems, and cultivate closed loops of carbon nutrients. Let’s turn sewage-treatment plants into fertilizer factories. Let’s recognize carbon as an asset and the life-giving carbon cycle as a model for human designs.

 

The article offers abundant examples of such designs.  The articles concludes with:

Such designs offer an inspiring model for climate action. It all starts with changing the way we talk about carbon. Our goal is simple and positive: a delightfully diverse, safe, healthy and just world — with clean air, soil, water and energy — economically, equitably, ecologically and elegantly enjoyed.

JC reflections

I regard this as a really important essay. Not only does it change the way I think about something important, but it points to a way forward that people on both sides of the climate debate can respond to favorably.

For more on all this, check out William McDonough’s web site.  Fascinating.

Vanity Fair has a profile on McDonough [link], which is well worth reading also.  Excerpt:

Many of the radical players in the ecology and sustainability movements who have made their voices heard have done so through protest. Think of the vigilante-style work of Greenpeace in the 1970s. For most environmental activists, communal sacrifice and curbs on industry in order to create greater eco-efficiency—that is, the reduction of environmental impact and resource consumption on a global scale—are the prescriptions of choice. McDonough sees the matter through a very different lens. To him it’s a design problem. Shrill broadsides against industry are misdirected. Dire predictions of heatless winters and a car-less future are missing the point. Perhaps the most compelling part of McDonough’s plan is its repudiation of the Judeo-Christian guilt that has long defined the green movement. He and Braungart reject what they call the “dour face of eco-efficiency.”

“I want things designed so well there is no need for regulations,” he continues. “How about cars that spew out good emissions? Factories that make clean water. Then growth is good. Then the question becomes: What do you want to grow? Right now industry is set up to grow cancer and Alzheimer’s. For every case of leukemia we create nine jobs. Are the government and industry willing to sign on to that as the right kind of job-creation program? If so, we clearly need an alternative plan.”

Filed under: Adaptation

Source: 
Judith Curry

Dear friends of this aggregator

  • Yes, I intentionally removed Newsbud from the aggregator on Mar 22.
  • Newsbud did not block the aggregator, although their editor blocked me on twitter after a comment I made to her
  • As far as I know, the only site that blocks this aggregator is Global Research. I have no idea why!!
  • Please stop recommending Newsbud and Global Research to be added to the aggregator.

Support this site

News Sources

Source Items
WWI Hidden History 51
Grayzone Project 328
Pass Blue 299
Dilyana Gaytandzhieva 16
John Pilger 422
The Real News 367
Scrutinised Minds 29
Need To Know News 3044
FEE 5127
Marine Le Pen 395
Francois Asselineau 25
Opassande 53
HAX on 5July 220
Henrik Alexandersson 1115
Mohamed Omar 403
Professors Blog 10
Arg Blatte Talar 40
Angry Foreigner 18
Fritte Fritzson 12
Teologiska rummet 32
Filosofiska rummet 131
Vetenskapsradion Historia 180
Snedtänkt (Kalle Lind) 244
Les Crises 3320
Richard Falk 199
Ian Sinclair 124
SpinWatch 61
Counter Currents 11151
Kafila 565
Gail Malone 42
Transnational Foundation 221
Rick Falkvinge 95
The Duran 10600
Vanessa Beeley 187
Nina Kouprianova 9
MintPress 5865
Paul Craig Roberts 2233
News Junkie Post 60
Nomi Prins 27
Kurt Nimmo 191
Strategic Culture 5637
Sir Ken Robinson 25
Stephan Kinsella 108
Liberty Blitzkrieg 873
Sami Bedouin 65
Consortium News 2685
21 Century Wire 3896
Burning Blogger 324
Stephen Gowans 97
David D. Friedman 159
Anarchist Standard 16
The BRICS Post 1531
Tom Dispatch 586
Levant Report 18
The Saker 4812
The Barnes Review 567
John Friend 513
Psyche Truth 160
Jonathan Cook 162
New Eastern Outlook 4594
School Sucks Project 1797
Giza Death Star 2071
Andrew Gavin Marshall 15
Red Ice Radio 649
GMWatch 2496
Robert Faurisson 150
Espionage History Archive 35
Jay's Analysis 1099
Le 4ème singe 90
Jacob Cohen 216
Agora Vox 17974
Cercle Des Volontaires 446
Panamza 2438
Fairewinds 118
Project Censored 1084
Spy Culture 596
Conspiracy Archive 81
Crystal Clark 11
Timothy Kelly 614
PINAC 1482
The Conscious Resistance 945
Independent Science News 85
The Anti Media 6875
Positive News 820
Brandon Martinez 30
Steven Chovanec 61
Lionel 305
The Mind renewed 454
Natural Society 2627
Yanis Varoufakis 1063
Tragedy & Hope 122
Dr. Tim Ball 114
Web of Debt 159
Porkins Policy Review 450
Conspiracy Watch 174
Eva Bartlett 632
Libyan War Truth 357
DeadLine Live 1916
Kevin Ryan 66
BSNEWS 2104
Aaron Franz 259
Traces of Reality 166
Revelations Radio News 121
Dr. Bruce Levine 155
Peter B Collins 1702
Faux Capitalism 205
Dissident Voice 11479
Climate Audit 226
Donna Laframboise 486
Judith Curry 1166
Geneva Business Insider 40
Media Monarchy 2584
Syria Report 78
Human Rights Investigation 93
Intifada (Voice of Palestine) 1685
Down With Tyranny 12973
Laura Wells Solutions 46
Video Rebel's Blog 457
Revisionist Review 485
Aletho News 22053
ضد العولمة 27
Penny for your thoughts 3220
Northerntruthseeker 2620
كساريات 37
Color Revolutions and Geopolitics 27
Stop Nato 4831
AntiWar.com Blog 3326
AntiWar.com Original Content 7411
Corbett Report 2540
Stop Imperialism 491
Land Destroyer 1258
Webster Tarpley Website 1142

Compiled Feeds

Public Lists

Title Visibility
Funny Public