Friday, December 14, 2007

Bali overview

The best overview/summary of events in Bali that I've found so far is on the Spero News website.

One outcome has been in adaptation.

Funds to help poor countries adapt to climate change will be managed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the World Bank; its Adaptation Fund Board will be managed by developing countries - those most affected - which own the fund.

Cash will be available to Kyoto Protocol signees almost immediiately and comes from a 2% levy on the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

However, UNFCCC estimates $40bn is needed but only $36m is now in the pot. $100m to $500m a year is required between 2008 and 2012, it says.


John Mashey said...

I know a lot of environmentalists are down on biofuels, and personally, I'm not particularly keen on giant agribusiness lobbies and market-distorting subsidies.

On the other hand, I grew up on a farm, which not many people these days do in developed countries, and I have some concern about the future's agricultural economy if there are *no* biofuels.

Consider the world as it will be when all the cheap oil & gas are gone, i.e., this century.
or Google: peak oil

Assume that we don't go nuts and do coal->synfuels.

Assume we electrify tractors and everything else we can around farming. Small-medium tractors have existence proofs already, unclear how to handle the 200-500HP things or combines.

Assume we use no-till farming, and do everything else we can to minimize the amount of nitrogen-based fertilizer (which comes from natural gas, after all), and which has the good effect of lessening nitrous oxide (a serious GHG)).

Assume we use GM (carefully!) like crazy for yield improvements in the face of water problems and lessening fertilizer and wanting to use less pesticide.

Assume we give up almost all air travel [if biofuels don't happen, that 3rd runway at Heathrow is a silly investment.]

Assume everybody tries hard to "eat local", and lots of people give up things like tropical fruit and fruit/vegetables not growable locally.

In the absence of *any* biofuels, or absence of truly magical hydrogen leaps, whose energy efficiencies in transport applications seem dubious ... I'm not sure I really understand how:

a) The UK gets fed, especially London.

Can the UK grow all the food it needs?

The UK at least mostly has farms spread around, not too far from urban centers. and a relatively dense railroad network, but if you need food from anywhere else, how exactly, does it get there without use of *any* fuel? Is it enough to beef up the Chunnel and get food from Europe? Are distances short enough to use only electric-only trucks? What exactly does your food-transport network look like? Does it use any trucking beyond the local trucking that might work with electric-only trucks?

Anyway, somebody must have done serious UK studies, but I haven't found them yet, so have you any pointers?

b) New York, etc get fed.
In the US, half of the fruit and vegetables get grown in California, and a lot of grain in the mid-West. This stuff gets shipped around way more than it ought to, but still, there is a lot of use of medium/long-range trucking that is hard to get around, given the spread-out nature of the country, even assuming electrifying all railroads.

3) Here's a calibration of the issue:

UK: 244,820 km^2, 60M people, 246/km^2 density

London: 1,577 km^2, 7.5M people, 4,761/km^2 density.

New York City: 786 km^2 (land), 8.2M people, 10,456/km^2.

Kansas: 213.096 km^2, 2.7M people, 12.7/km^2. From eyeballing the maps, a lot of farms are *not* right next to RRs, so they use trucks to get to RRs, to get to processing plants.

It's 2,000 km from mid-Kansas to NYC. On the NYC end, even with the densest rail network in the US, a lot of food gets distributed via trucks. I have no idea how much this can be electric.

As for shipping a lot of wheat or corn outside the US... I have my doubts, and it's probably just as well, given that subsidized has really not helped much, especially compared with Norman Borlaug's efforts to help them grow their own.

It of course makes no sense to grow crops that can't be gotten to market.

It seems more plausible to think, that in the US at least, farmers will grow *some* fuel crops, hopefully not corn (which was never bred as a fuel crop), but plausible second-generation biofuel crops, like for cellulosic ethanol, i.e., like switchgrass or miscanthus (elephant grass), especially as the latter use much less water and fertilizer. Farmers certainly aren't going to grow corn for fuel if they can make more money with miscanthus.

[I'm in California, and fortunately, we grow almost everything here, and if we can electrify fast enough, and do enough cellulosic to cover the awkward bits, we're OK. But I worry about a lot of other places. I suppose we can disassemble NYC and send a lot of people to Kansas to work on small family farms, somewhat akin to Old Amish, but with electricity. I'm not sure how keen people would be for that, and small farmers are rarely wealthy [I know!], but that's the way it goes.]

I don't care about current random distortions by ethanol lobbiests.
I would be happy to see realistic plans for getting to *zero* biofuels, say in 2100AD.

John Mashey said...

Oops, sorry, this was supposed to be attached to a different post, the one on biofuels.