How many gigatons…?

Saw an interesting Pinterest-style graphic the other day, relating to climate change and the amount of carbon dioxide (measured in gigatons) that has been and could be released, with the impacts of the different levels.

IiB CO2 graphic v3

Source: http://ambikamelville.com/2012/12/26/how-many-gigatons-of-carbon-dioxide

The scary part of the image is the part about there only being 13 years left before we break the budget of carbon released – the level of 500 gigatons. This will lead to 2 degrees C of warming, beyond which point there is a 50% chance of run-away climate change. Hardly a safe level, but the stages beyond are even more scary.

If carbon-capture and storage (CCS) technology isn’t introduced very soon (to capture the carbon from the inevitable use of fossil fuels for energy production), we’ll be beyond the 2 degree range in less than 2 decades.

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Sustainability challenge!

Up to this point, i’ve been working under the assumption that as part of the whole house renovation project, we would at some point get solar panels (photovoltaic panels – PV), which would generate electricity. This was one of the reasons for switching to the electric rads.

We’re now in a position to be able to go for a small solar PV system, located on the rear roof (above Jamie’s room, which faces just west of due south). I’ve got figures and costs from a PV company which one of our work colleagues used and there are a range of feed-in tariffs and grants running now, which means we can sell the electric we generate back to the grid (at roughly 30p a unit – it costs roughly 12p a unit to buy normally), and get a grant from a government sustainability programme.

Ok, so far so good, but what’s the SUSTAINABILITY CHALLENGE??

Well, the whole point of doing this is to become more sustainable, but there are other ways of achieving this aim. The challenge here is to work out what options there are, and then to compare them to see what the best overall option is. I suppose the point is not about ‘protecting the environment’, or ‘saving the planet’ – it’s more about the massive impact which climate change will have on people (and also all the other species).

The other thing i’ve noticed is how insulated we are against climate change, with the main impacts being economic, rather than physical. In the developing world, it’s both economic and physical (or even life-threatening – if your crops fail, you die). If the developed world has no need to change, it won’t, but it’s the developed and fast-developing countries (USA, Europe, India, China etc), which have the most power to change things). These types of countries will soon have to change, as there will be mounting economic pressure to do so, but I feel it will have to get pretty bad before it really kicks in (notice how the recent world recession has not really led to any sweeping policy changes). If we’re not seeing major changes during the worst global recession for 60+ years, what will it take?

I’ll be posting a series of updates about what info we’ve found out and some of the background issues. This might also give other people ideas and start an ECO REVOLUTION!!

Well, maybe not, but I might find out some interesting things and as a result, give us a way forward.