Climate Scientist: We Have To Build Better Infrastructure To Control Storms 1

Climate Scientist: We Have To Build Better Infrastructure To Control Storms

 

Kerry Emanuel, a professor of atmospheric sciences at MIT, joins Andrea Mitchell to discuss how climate change is exacerbating natural disasters, and what can be done to better control the damage and the big steps that need to be taken prevent even worse catastrophes. "Nothing is too big at this point and we waited so long, and here we don't have much choice left," says Professor Emanuel. "We have to build better infrastructure to control the stronger kinds of storms we're already getting."
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33 comments

  1. serious subject but Andrea needs to retire. she’s had an incredible career, but she’s gotta know when to hang it up and ride off into the sunset.

  2. The anti-science wave in this country is really starting to do serious harm. How did ignorance get so much power?

    1. @Jock Young Your original comment says how did ignorance get such power. Take for instance an MSNBC thread that says kids are dropping like flies, lots of thumbs up. CDC statistics says childrens deaths remain very low in August same as from the beginning

    2. I understand rollingstone rolled the Oklahoma emergency rooms flooded with ivermectin problems, I understand that was false. I assumed it was somewhat true but did not make that much sense. The media though is more into propaganda, that is my scientific take

    3. I gonna tell you something that is unfortunatelly not covered in the media when it comes to climate change. And believe me, it’s worth to read this entire comment to the end, even if it takes a few minutes. Internal documents of fossil fuel companies prove that they were already concerned in the 1950s about possible consequences of CO2 emissions for the Earth’s climate. Furthermore internal documents of fossil fuel companies from the 1970s prove that at this time these concerns have already become a certainty for them. That means that already in the 1970s the fossil fuel industry KNEW that CO2 emissions will cause a dramatic climate change. And now let’s take a look on what could have been done against it in the 1950s until the 1980s:

      The Smith-Putnam wind turbine from 1941 was the first wind turbine with a power of 1.25 megawatt. Typical modern on-shore wind turbines in Germany have a power of 2 to 5 megawatts. As you can see it was possible to build really good wind turbines already in 1941. If development of wind turbines continued after 1941 then wind turbines as good as our modern on-shore wind turbines could have been available already in the 1960s or 1970s. Wind power back then could have been combined with technologies which I will describe in the following sections.

      The “Kværner process” is a technology originally developed in Norway in the 1980s to split hydrocarbons like oil & gas into clean CO2-free hydrogen and solid carbon which can be safely buried again as a waste product. It is a method which uses electricity and it takes 75.6 kilojoules of electric energy to convert 1 mole of methane into an amount of hydrogen with an energy content of 572 kilojoules. Currently it is in fact the most energy efficient way to produce hydrogen, 7.6 times more energy efficient than electrolysis of water and even more energy efficient than steam-reforming which today is the state-of-the-art method used in the industry. The start-up “Monolith Materials” and their partner Mitsubishi opened a commercial clean hydrogen plant this year in Nebraska which uses the “Kværner process” and they plan to open 30 more plants in the coming years. Hydrogen can be used as a clean CO2-free fuel for cars, trains, ships & airplanes, it is used in the production of ammonia for fertilizers, in Germany and Sweden it is already used to make steel without CO2 emissions and it can be used for heating.

      Another method called “Methane Pyrolysis” is known even earlier since the 1960s. “Methane Pyrolysis” does the same as the “Kværner process” but uses heat instead of electricity and has a similar energy efficiency. Although it contains “Methane” in its name it is as well perfectly suitable to process higher hydrocarbons like oil. In 2020 the german chemical company BASF has announced that they have developed “Methane Pyrolysis” to the point where it can be commercialized. In the future natural gas from Russia will be processed to clean CO2-free hydrogen which will be used in the german industry to produce CO2-free steel and for the heating of homes.

      The “Lockheed CL-400 Suntan” was a reconnaissance aircraft developed in the 1950s with liquid hydrogen propulsion. In the end the CIA opted against it because the “SR-71 Blackbird” with its conventional kerosine fuel was cheaper. But the airframe, the tanks & the engines of “Suntan” were fully developed and successfully tested. This was in the 1950s which means that with government support liquid hydrogen powered passenger jets for commercial airlines could have been available already in the 1970s or 1980s. At this time the liquid hydrogen fuel could have been produced in sufficient quantities from oil & gas with “Methane Pyrolysis” and the “Kværner process” which were already known at this time and which I have described further above. Instead we still fly on Kerosine and civil aviation has become a major source of emissions.

      Hydrogen powered cars would have been impractical in the 1960s because hydrogen needs either cryogenic tanks if it is liquid or very high pressure tanks at room temperature. Hydrogen fuel cells were already in use in the 1960s in space ships like Apollo, but at this time they were way to expensive for cars. So how would it be possible to power cars with clean hydrogen in the 1960s? The answer is ammonia. If one combines “Methane Pyrolysis” for hydrogen production with the “Haber-Bosch process” for ammonia production then it takes in the ideal case 14.08 kilojoules to convert 1 mole of methane (or another hydrocarbon) into an amount of ammonia with an energy content of 422.4 kilojoules. This is a ratio of 30!!! If one assumes that the efficiency is not 100% but only a very bad 33% then the ratio is still 10!!! It means that even at a very low efficiency of 33% one can make 10 kilojoules of ammonia energy from 1 kilojoule of renewable or nuclear energy with fossil fuels as feedstock, ALL without any CO2 emissions! Ammonia is much easier to handle than hydrogen because it can be kept liquid at room temperature at very modest pressures below 20 bars. Even in the 1960s this was a very low and safe pressure for gas tanks. In addition liquid ammonia contains 1.8 times more energy per volume than liquid hydrogen. Ammonia is a good fuel for internal combustion engines and it combusts to water and nitrogen without greenhouse gases. Since “Methane Pyrolysis” is known since the 1960s it would have been possible to make clean cars in the 1970s.

      Now these two technologies target hydrocarbons. However there also exists a technology called “Direct Carbon Fuel Cell”. A direct carbon fuel cell is a fuel cell which uses coal instead of hydrogen. The first patent for such a fuel cell was granted in 1896 to William W. Jacques, US Patent 555,511. Now a direct carbon fuel cell does produce CO2 because it oxidizes coal, however its efficiency is twice the efficiency of a conventional combustion based generator. This means that one can use only half as much coal for the same amount of power as in conventional coal power plants. With a “Direct Carbon Fuel Cell” one can therefore cut CO2 emissions from coal in half! Furthermore a “Direct Carbon Fuel Cell” produces a concentrated stream of 100% pure CO2 as exhaust. One can therefore capture the exhaust directly without any complicated & energy intensive additional steps. This CO2 can then be either pumped into empty oil & gas fields, so that it is not released to the atmosphere, or it can be used as an ingredient for carbon-negative concrete like “Carbicrete” from Canada or “CarbonCure” from the United States. Working “Direct Carbon Fuel Cell” have been developed multiple times since the 1930s. In 2001 for example the “Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory” made a “Direct Carbon Fuel Cells” which was able to convert 80% of the chemical energy of carbon into electricity.

      So what does all this means? Not only did the fossil fuel industry know about the disastrous consequences of their CO2 emissions, they also already had the technologies to fix this problem decades ago. The fossil fuel industry has spent billions and billions over the decades to influence politicians so that effective measures against climate change were not put into practice. They could have used the money for R&D instead so that the “Kværner process”, “Methane Pyrolysis” and “Direct Carbon Fuel Cells” could have been used already decades ago. This way they could have been able to continue their business, making money AND contribute to climate protection.

  3. Kicking the can down the road has been the political and corporate answer for 30 years now. The expense of reacting now will be so much higher than it might have been.

    1. I gonna tell you something that is unfortunatelly not covered in the media when it comes to climate change. And believe me, it’s worth to read this entire comment to the end, even if it takes a few minutes. Internal documents of fossil fuel companies prove that they were already concerned in the 1950s about possible consequences of CO2 emissions for the Earth’s climate. Furthermore internal documents of fossil fuel companies from the 1970s prove that at this time these concerns have already become a certainty for them. That means that already in the 1970s the fossil fuel industry KNEW that CO2 emissions will cause a dramatic climate change. And now let’s take a look on what could have been done against it in the 1950s until the 1980s:

      The Smith-Putnam wind turbine from 1941 was the first wind turbine with a power of 1.25 megawatt. Typical modern on-shore wind turbines in Germany have a power of 2 to 5 megawatts. As you can see it was possible to build really good wind turbines already in 1941. If development of wind turbines continued after 1941 then wind turbines as good as our modern on-shore wind turbines could have been available already in the 1960s or 1970s. Wind power back then could have been combined with technologies which I will describe in the following sections.

      The “Kværner process” is a technology originally developed in Norway in the 1980s to split hydrocarbons like oil & gas into clean CO2-free hydrogen and solid carbon which can be safely buried again as a waste product. It is a method which uses electricity and it takes 75.6 kilojoules of electric energy to convert 1 mole of methane into an amount of hydrogen with an energy content of 572 kilojoules. Currently it is in fact the most energy efficient way to produce hydrogen, 7.6 times more energy efficient than electrolysis of water and even more energy efficient than steam-reforming which today is the state-of-the-art method used in the industry. The start-up “Monolith Materials” and their partner Mitsubishi opened a commercial clean hydrogen plant this year in Nebraska which uses the “Kværner process” and they plan to open 30 more plants in the coming years. Hydrogen can be used as a clean CO2-free fuel for cars, trains, ships & airplanes, it is used in the production of ammonia for fertilizers, in Germany and Sweden it is already used to make steel without CO2 emissions and it can be used for heating.

      Another method called “Methane Pyrolysis” is known even earlier since the 1960s. “Methane Pyrolysis” does the same as the “Kværner process” but uses heat instead of electricity and has a similar energy efficiency. Although it contains “Methane” in its name it is as well perfectly suitable to process higher hydrocarbons like oil. In 2020 the german chemical company BASF has announced that they have developed “Methane Pyrolysis” to the point where it can be commercialized. In the future natural gas from Russia will be processed to clean CO2-free hydrogen which will be used in the german industry to produce CO2-free steel and for the heating of homes.

      The “Lockheed CL-400 Suntan” was a reconnaissance aircraft developed in the 1950s with liquid hydrogen propulsion. In the end the CIA opted against it because the “SR-71 Blackbird” with its conventional kerosine fuel was cheaper. But the airframe, the tanks & the engines of “Suntan” were fully developed and successfully tested. This was in the 1950s which means that with government support liquid hydrogen powered passenger jets for commercial airlines could have been available already in the 1970s or 1980s. At this time the liquid hydrogen fuel could have been produced in sufficient quantities from oil & gas with “Methane Pyrolysis” and the “Kværner process” which were already known at this time and which I have described further above. Instead we still fly on Kerosine and civil aviation has become a major source of emissions.

      Hydrogen powered cars would have been impractical in the 1960s because hydrogen needs either cryogenic tanks if it is liquid or very high pressure tanks at room temperature. Hydrogen fuel cells were already in use in the 1960s in space ships like Apollo, but at this time they were way to expensive for cars. So how would it be possible to power cars with clean hydrogen in the 1960s? The answer is ammonia. If one combines “Methane Pyrolysis” for hydrogen production with the “Haber-Bosch process” for ammonia production then it takes in the ideal case 14.08 kilojoules to convert 1 mole of methane (or another hydrocarbon) into an amount of ammonia with an energy content of 422.4 kilojoules. This is a ratio of 30!!! If one assumes that the efficiency is not 100% but only a very bad 33% then the ratio is still 10!!! It means that even at a very low efficiency of 33% one can make 10 kilojoules of ammonia energy from 1 kilojoule of renewable or nuclear energy with fossil fuels as feedstock, ALL without any CO2 emissions! Ammonia is much easier to handle than hydrogen because it can be kept liquid at room temperature at very modest pressures below 20 bars. Even in the 1960s this was a very low and safe pressure for gas tanks. In addition liquid ammonia contains 1.8 times more energy per volume than liquid hydrogen. Ammonia is a good fuel for internal combustion engines and it combusts to water and nitrogen without greenhouse gases. Since “Methane Pyrolysis” is known since the 1960s it would have been possible to make clean cars in the 1970s.

      Now these two technologies target hydrocarbons. However there also exists a technology called “Direct Carbon Fuel Cell”. A direct carbon fuel cell is a fuel cell which uses coal instead of hydrogen. The first patent for such a fuel cell was granted in 1896 to William W. Jacques, US Patent 555,511. Now a direct carbon fuel cell does produce CO2 because it oxidizes coal, however its efficiency is twice the efficiency of a conventional combustion based generator. This means that one can use only half as much coal for the same amount of power as in conventional coal power plants. With a “Direct Carbon Fuel Cell” one can therefore cut CO2 emissions from coal in half! Furthermore a “Direct Carbon Fuel Cell” produces a concentrated stream of 100% pure CO2 as exhaust. One can therefore capture the exhaust directly without any complicated & energy intensive additional steps. This CO2 can then be either pumped into empty oil & gas fields, so that it is not released to the atmosphere, or it can be used as an ingredient for carbon-negative concrete like “Carbicrete” from Canada or “CarbonCure” from the United States. Working “Direct Carbon Fuel Cells” have been developed multiple times since the 1930s. In 2001 for example the “Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory” made a “Direct Carbon Fuel Cell” which was able to convert 80% of the chemical energy of carbon into electricity.

      So what does all this means? Not only did the fossil fuel industry know about the disastrous consequences of their CO2 emissions, they also already had the technologies to fix this problem decades ago. The fossil fuel industry has spent billions and billions over the decades to influence politicians so that effective measures against climate change were not put into practice. They could have used the money for R&D instead so that the “Kværner process”, “Methane Pyrolysis” and “Direct Carbon Fuel Cells” could have been used already decades ago. This way they could have been able to continue their business, making money AND contribute to climate protection.

  4. Reports by the Army Corps of Engineers for years now estimate that we need to expend at least $6 Trillion just to bring the hard infrastructure up to code; not getting ahead, just catching up basically. That’s how long we’ve been ignoring the growing problem.

  5. This is just the beginning of the peak hurricane season, and this is just the beginning of the horrors of climate change. My heart goes out to the people in Louisiana and elsewhere affected by hurricane Ida, but shouldn’t we be looking at relocating people in some of these low-lying coastal areas prone to hurricanes, rather than rebuilding homes, towns, and communities in harm’s way?

  6. Republicans: “Got this fantastic idea: let’s cook the planet to make the wealthy even richer! What could possibly go wrong?”

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