Today there is an article on the BBC’s site (“Five ways to save the world“) referring to a documentary I have not seen. This particular documentary proposes 5 ”alternative” ways to control greenhouse gas levels. These ideas, straight from the brains of smart old white men, are as follows:
- Using a fleet of futuristic boats to pump seawater into the clouds
- Launching rockets to scatter mega tonnes of sulphur particles into the atmosphere
- Using a big fucking orbiting space-mirror to reflect sunlight
- Creating enormous phytoplankton blooms to lock up CO2
- Artificial trees that capture carbon which is then sequestered (buried)
Of course all of these ideas, while undoubtedly interesting, are probably vastly more expensive and complicated than just doing simple things like turning off the lights or walking to the shops. As the article admits:
“Even Professor Jones admits: ‘Once you start managing nature you have to continue to manage nature, there is no use hoping that it will restore itself to a new equilibrium set up by humans.’”
My suggestions to reduce CO2 levels are a little more down to Earth:
1 – Do like Australia may do and ban all the nineteenth-century light bulbs in use. This is a no-brainer, a ban that will lead to everybody saving both energy AND money in just a year or two. Why, I wonder, has this not been done before?
2 – Restructure electricity prices. My suggestion is to work out the average consumption in the word (yes, in the world) and arrange the process as follows:
Set the “base price” a little under today’s average world price and the “average amount” to today’s global average energy used per person.
For all energy used under 1/3 of your quota, you pay the base price for it (so much per kilowatt-hour).
From 1/3 to 2/3 the price is doubled (twice the base price)
From 2/3 to 3/3, the price per unit increases to 3 times the base price.
And from every 1/3 increase after that, the price per unit increases by one base unit cost. See this home-made diagram:
Figure 1: The Paddy Plan for electricity prices
This plan rewards low users and heavily penalizes heavier ones. And let’s face it, the only incentives that ever truly work are economic ones.
3 – Increase the price of gasoline. The gasoline price today is pathetically low. Really, it’s a joke. A litre of bubbled water in the local shop costs MORE than a litre of gasoline, despite the fact that a litre of gasoline has been sucked up from deep underground, processed and refined and transported halfway around the world.
How the HELL can anybody justify this low price? One or two dollars per litre is a fucking joke. Fuck the motorists – let them pay the REAL cost of gasoline, including the vast amounts we will have to start investing to clean up after their little jaunt around the city has finished. Of course, this requires public transport to be radically expanded, but then again the technology for buses and trains already exists – all we have to do is build more of them.
These things are all plausible, but they are “uncomfortable” and few politicians will suggest them. Much better to pump sulphur particles into the atmosphere or send up rocket ships or put big mirrors into Earth orbit instead of turning off the lights, getting a smaller television and taking the fucking train.