Two billion points of carbon dioxide pollution

lawn mowers

We stop GHG pollution by replacing energy conversion devises that burn fossil fuels

Fossil fuel providers have been taking the brunt of public frustration over climate change. However, the corporations that mine, process and deliver fossil fuel are one step removed from fossil fuel combustion, the source of carbon dioxide pollution, the primary driver of climate change. Carbon dioxide pollution occurs when humans operate some sort of fossil fuel-powered mechanical device.

Worldwide, an estimated two billion internal combustion engines propel a global inventory of automobiles, locomotives, ships, aircraft, stationary power generators, lawnmowers and hand-held tools. Tens of thousands of industrial boilers drive steam turbines that turn electric generators in electricity plants, and hundreds of blast furnaces and kilns produce steel and cement. Millions of oil furnaces heat homes. Millions of gas stoves cook food.

For the carbon dioxide pollution to stop, humans obviously have to stop using what can justifiably be called “greenhouse gas pollution devices”.

The ways to do this are known, and are making their way into public policy in some progressive societies. The state of California is heading for 100 percent greenhouse-gas-free energy by 2045. The city of Vancouver, in the province of British Columbia aspires to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

California and British Columbia can entertain such ambitions because both jurisdictions have enormous renewable energy resources available to power their respective electric grids. California, the world’s wealthiest sub-national economy, with a GDP roughly the size of India, has a wealth of solar, wind and geothermal energy. British Columbia’s grid is already 95 percent powered by hydro electricity.

On the other end of the spectrum is Poland, with relatively modest renewable capacity. However, in 2019, it reversed a long-standing dependence on coal and initiated moves to meeting 15 percent of its gross final energy consumption with renewables by 2020. To go further, Poland may have to embrace nuclear energy, or become part of a low carbon European electric grid.

While technological solutions are readily available to correct what is essentially a technological problem (carbon dioxide pollution), the main difficulty is whether the solutions can be implemented fast enough. At present, zero carbon energy targets are only achievable when wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, or small nuclear are available and affordable.

So the transition to a zero carbon energy production is an economy-wide proposition. The automotive, electricity, industrial and building construction sectors need to ramp up efforts to stop carbon dioxide pollution as quickly as possible. Electric propulsion in the automotive sector. Wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, tidal and fourth generation nuclear energy in the electricity sector. The international community will have to lend a hand to countries that do not have adequate natural or financial resources to take the necessary steps at the speed required.

runner and cyclist vancouver seawallPeople can take action.  Individuals and organizations that own fossil fuel-dependent energy devices, can stop using them. They can walk, or take a bus. Enterprises that build fossil fuel-dependent energy devices for any purpose can build substitutes. This is happening the world over, but things need to pick up speed. The collective consciousness needs to focus on these solutions and push hard for accelerated diffusion and adoption.

Fossil fuel providers may be enablers, but they are also a distraction. If you like to sign petitions and join street demonstrations, tell the builders and users of carbon dioxide pollution devices – auto manufacturers, electric power companies, steel plants, gas furnace and stove manufacturers – to cease and desist as soon as practical.