I am 78 years old so I do not think that what I write about can threaten me. But it may threaten my children and grandchildren. And you and your children and grandchildren, too, therefore I ask that you read the following.
In the first part I write about whether warming caused by the so-called greenhouse gases poses a real danger to humankind. In the second part I write about whether the general application of currently known methods can protect us from this danger if it is a real danger. In the third part I examine whether there is a method that can protect us if currently known methods cannot. And in the fourth part I look at what should be done to make this method widespread if there is such a method.
Dr. Endre Simonyi
36 Temes St., Erd, HUNGARY, H-2030
Is warming caused by greenhouse gases a real danger to humankind?
A surprising beginning: The short summary of a folk tale.
A shepherd was bored in the pen one evening. He stood in front of the pen and shouted: “The wolves are here! Help, people!” The village people heard it and ran to help. The shepherd laughed at them.
Since his practical joke was such a “success”, he repeated it on another day. Since the people were concerned for the safety of their sheep, they again ran to help.
However, after a time a real pack of wolves came. The shepherd now shouted in genuine fear but to no avail. The people thought the shepherd wanted to trick them again and did not come, and the wolves ate both the sheep and the shepherd.
Is it possible that the warming effect of greenhouse gases is something similar? Is it a false alarm or a real danger?
And anyway which material should we concentrate on? Methane, considered the main culprit by certain groups in the USA, or carbon dioxide blamed by everybody else?
Methane can come from two sources: from cattle, and from frozen methane hydrate found in cold areas.
Since the latter requires warming to thaw out the methane, I do not deal with it separately.
I do not know much about cattle-breeding, but if methane from cattle is a real danger, there must surely be a method to collect the produced gases. If there is no such method, which I cannot imagine, I am ready and willing to develop one.
This way, what remains is carbon dioxide.
According to those who claim there is a danger
1. the carbon dioxide concentration of the air rises,
2. this is caused by human activity,
3. making the temperature of the surface of the earth rise,
4. and this becomes irreversible above a generally believed value of 2 Co.
Let us examine these points one by one!!
1. In order to determine whether it is increasing or not, we need to know the baseline to which it is compared.
Carbon dioxide is considerably heavier than air therefore if we put air and carbon dioxide in a container and wait a long time taking care that nothing moves the container and measure the composition of the mixture without disturbing it, we will find that there is more carbon dioxide at the bottom than at the top.
The movement of air, however, even the slightest breeze, stirs up the air and disperses whatever is in the air. This can easily be seen in the case of chimneys and airplanes. Smoke, etc. moves further and further away and disperses. This is what happens to carbon dioxide, too. It moves a long way from where it was released and also moves sideways. As a result, its concentration in the air decreases.
There are other factors changing concentration. Plants absorb carbon dioxide during the day and water absorbs carbon dioxide any time, thus reducing concentration.
This way the carbon dioxide concentration in the air at a given time can be different at different locations and can also differ at different altitudes at the same location. And even this changes since the direction and speed of the wind, the amount of plants and their carbon dioxide absorption capacity continuously changes.
How can the carbon dioxide content of the air be determined then? There is no accurate answer to this question just like we cannot accurately tell the average temperature of the surface of the Earth, whose possible rise we should examine!
And this is true today, when we can take an air sample anywhere and analyse it. About the past, however, we only have samples from some places and some times.
Therefore we know even less about the past than about the present.
What we know for certain is that humankind releases an increasing amount of carbon dioxide into the air (currently 36 billion tons a year).
The conclusion was that the possible increase in carbon dioxide concentration resulting from this cannot be determined with measurements.
Let us try in another way!
What can happen to the released carbon dioxide other than increasing the carbon dioxide concentration of the air?
Plants absorb it. Due to deforestation, unfortunately, this is not so.
Waters absorb it.
According to Henry’s law, at a given temperature the absorption capacity of water is proportional to the carbon dioxide concentration of the air. (A harmful effect of warming is that it decreases the gas absorption capacity of water, therefore oceans will absorb less than now.) This way, if air containing more carbon dioxide reaches the oceans, more carbon dioxide will be absorbed. Unfortunately, the air will not carry all carbon dioxide to the oceans from all major carbon dioxide producers.
Thus human activity undoubtedly increases the carbon dioxide concentration of the air but at an unknown rate.
Does this cause a temperature increase and if yes, how much?
As I have said before, similarly to the carbon dioxide concentration of the air, the average temperature of the surface of the Earth cannot be measured. And naturally, it is even less possible to determine what the average temperature was earlier.
It can, of course, be estimated based on the existence and number of certain animal and plant groups but the accuracy of these methods is not exact enough to enable us to determine the average temperature at a given time.
And it is quite impossible to estimate the carbon dioxide concentration at a given time based on these methods.
Thus a scientifically based answer can only be that we do not know.
Does that mean that we might as well ignore the increasing production of carbon dioxide?
No! We haven’t reached “game over” yet! If those claiming there is danger are right, it can push humankind into mortal danger. The whole of mankind!
Carbon dioxide production has to be drastically reduced!
If the danger is real, can the general application of known methods provide protection from it?
Defence methods can basically be classified into two groups.
In the first, we try to remove the produced carbon dioxide.
In the second, we try to prevent the formation of carbon dioxide.
1. The removal of carbon dioxide
This can be done at the place of emission or anywhere in the air.
There are carbon dioxide producers which produce large amounts of carbon dioxide in a concentrated way (power plants, and certain industrial plants). This group accounts for about 55 % of carbon dioxide production. In this case, since there are relatively few producers, it is not a great challenge technologically to collect the emitted carbon dioxide but it is very costly. There is, unfortunately, no method to get rid of or utilize really great amounts (billions of tons) of carbon dioxide. It is very expensive to transfer it underground or into the oceans and it can only be done in a few places and on a limited scale.
Other sources of carbon dioxide are small but they are in great numbers (households, vehicles, etc.) and some of them are moving, too (e.g. vehicles). These account for 45 % of carbon dioxide emission. The method of collection would be collection anywhere from the air.
Collecting carbon dioxide in the air anywhere else than at the source poses a really great problem for two reasons. One is the extremely low concentration (around 0.04 %), and the other is the vast amount of area or volume to process (the whole surface of the Earth, or at least the whole land area of Earth). No industrial-scale method exists for this problem, at present there are only experiments.
Is there a method that can provide a solution to this problem?
Yes, there is!
In the international conference COALASIA 2012,I gave a live presentation in front of an audience of experts.I demonstrated that with a certain material I can produce coal in a test tube at room temperature and atmospheric pressure without the use of external energy or a catalyst, from soda water, limestone powder, washing soda and potash (potassium carbonate), that is, carbonates. These carbonates are materials that can be produced by washing from gases emitted from thermal power plants.
Of course, I am not a miracle worker therefore during the process the material transforms, but with energy it can be converted back and can be used in the process again.
And also with solar energy!
With the help of another invention of mine, devices that convert solar energy directly to heat or electricity can be made far cheaper.
– this is a universal solution, which can be used with both solar panels and solar thermal collectors,
– it is far less sensitive to environmental influences (pollution, breaking) than a solar panel or solar thermal collector and therefore it is more durable,
– its manufacturing does not require new technology since it is simply an unusual processing method of a common mass-produced product,
– as this is a concentrator, its use requires fewer solar panels or solar thermal collectors, which means fewer connections and materials and therefore also provides greater stability.
If we combine
– the device that produces coal from carbon dioxide,
– the device that produces energy from sunlight,
– and the device that extracts carbon dioxide from the air (this device is not mentioned here), which also extracts the poisonous sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from the air,
they provide a full, sustainable and economical solution for the carbon dioxide problem.
What should be done to make it widespread?
I – not least because of my age – cannot alone put this solution which I worked out and tested in laboratory on the market.
However, I could cooperate with a company experienced in this and greatly help them.
– the company should take part in the Horizon 2020 program,
– organize a consortium similar to the one suggested in connection with the Modi’s plan – a similar method can be used in other, e.g. African developing countries, too,
– form a relationship with a large company that can put the theory into practice on a large scale alone or in cooperation with other companies.