"Even if the average joe doesn't spend his entire career fussing over self-regulating systems, EEs typically do."
Bert, the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has risen streadily by 1/3 over the last 150 years or so (from 0.03% to 0.04%). This alledged self-regulating system must have a very long time constant (far longer than the life of your average plant), because so far no regulation has occured.
"But again, you are assuming an open loop system. Why? As I said previously, we already know that greenhouse operators pump CO2 into their greenhouses, to stimulate plant growth. This hints right away at the fact that the photosynthesis process is not open loop, and that it can use more CO2 than what is available out in the open, at LEAST for certain types of plants."
Your problem is the numbers. There are something like 560 billion tons of living carbon biomass. We are emitting just under 10 billion tons per year. Even if CO2 fertilization trumps desertification, a few percent swing either way in the earth's biomass only offsets a couple year's worth of emissions. Then what?
Also, it is not if CO2 fertilization is not understood and incorporated into climate models. Like anything, however, it has diminishing returns, and at higher temperatures, almost certainly gets trumped by the water and heat stress that lead to desertification.
Your reforestation idea suffers from the sample problem. Maybe we can offset 5-10 year's worth of emissions, in theory. In practice, we are heading the wrong way entirely and adding to our problems via deforestation. Changing this would actually be harder than shutting off the coal plants, which are the primary problem. You say planting trees is "benign", but it costs money and diverts that land from other uses.
"So little evidence, as in several tens of thousands of published papers, dating back nearly 120 years? Pray tell, what would you consider an acceptable amount of evidence?"
You confuse activity with evidence. In an environment where the government funds $20bn/year of research, you are guaranteed to get a whole lot of papers. Evidence does not come from counts of papers or even counts of science. Go look up how science is supposed to work, next time.
Mother nature provided a very efficient system for distributing pollution all over the world. It's called the atmosphere (and to be entirely correct, the weather that goes with it). Also the ocean, and the currents in it.
The only way to stop pollution is for us to stop causing it.
As per the statistics available , only about 25% of the earth surface is land . Out of this only 3% of the land has urban population and about 40% is the agricultural land , the rest being either rocky, desert or wildlife.
Out of this 3% urban land , 90% of the population is concentrated in 10% of this land .
So all the problems of pollution that we are talking about are affecting only this 0.3% of the densely populated earth surface.
So by creating a proper infrastructure , if we are able to make the population spread over the sparsely populated areas of the earth, we can greatly reduce the effects all kinds of environment pollution, in my opinion.
And bringing some of that unpopulated land under cultivation we may be able to feed that ever growing population of 10 billion people
"Imagine a bathtub into which a 97 ml of water leaks every day, but from which 97 ml also evaporates. Now I start adding 3 ml of deuterium-spiked water each day, what happens?"
But again, you are assuming an open loop system. Why? As I said previously, we already know that greenhouse operators pump CO2 into their greenhouses, to stimulate plant growth. This hints right away at the fact that the photosynthesis process is not open loop, and that it can use more CO2 than what is available out in the open, at LEAST for certain types of plants.
So, rising CO2 levels should stimulate plant growth, which in turn works to counter the rise in CO2. This is called negative feedback.
Even if the average joe doesn't spend his entire career fussing over self-regulating systems, EEs typically do. So we should not feel obliged to just buy into the simplistic, first order assumptions, IMHO. At least, look on it with some level of skepticism, just because it sounds so simplistic.
"As for reforestation,
"1: We are doing the reverse
"2: It's impact would be limited and slow"
Well, (1) isn't that EXACTLY why we should be doing something about reforestation? (2) It's not at all slow. Matter of fact, paper mills treat trees as a harvest. They plant as much as they use. If paper companies can do this, why not do the same thing on a grander scale?
Planting trees is totally benign. It makes sense, it's obviously a good idea (because we know for damn sure that we have been the biggest offenders at deforesting), and it's not one of those pointless "feel good" exercises in futility. You got China and India coming on line here, in the next decades. Sorry, but these ideas of CO2 sequestratiuon sound preposterous to me. And increasing fuel economy, even though it makes perfectly good sense and SHOULD be promoted heavily, is going going to be enough to compensate for the new demand.
Your analogy is not correct. Imagine a bathtub into which a 97 ml of water leaks every day, but from which 97 ml also evaporates. Now I start adding 3 ml of deuterium-spiked water each day, what happens?
1: The water level starts increasing by 3 ml per day
2: The deuterium level also starts rising in a predicable manner
Does it make any sense to claim that I am not responsible for 100% of the increase in this case? That appears to be what you are saying, but you are ignoring the fact that in the unperturbed state, we were in an equalibrium (at least on human time scales).
CO2 levels are rising, and they are rising virtually entirely (and perhaps even more than entirely) because of human activity, mostly fossil fuel use. This is not really a debatable point.
As for reforestation,
1: We are doing the reverse
2: It's impact would be limited and slow
It's not a bad thing per se, but it can only be a small portion of the solution even we got about to actuallly doing it
I am a practicing EE but I participate in protests and activism around climate change and other issues, sign petitions etc. I don't see a problem with that, it often is in contradiction with what I am doing as an engineer but transformations in society cannot happen without accepting contradictions when we move from the old to a new.
Most engineers haven't raised fundamental questions about sustainability yet. Most engineers today have forgotten the basics of energy, a key but not the only aspect of sustainability. EEs today are obsessed with optimizing in the small (gadgets etc) while missing on the big picture (big energy and materials sustainabilty problems). Public has an overconfidence on technology because of its past success but there needs to be some realism based on fundamental science. There is too much political correctness and system level understanding is lacking. Engineers need to develop a proper understand of modern economic system and biology/ecology, connect the dots and see how their work fits in the society. Following materials are highly recommended:
1. See the video lecture arithmetic, population and energy by Dr Al Bartlett on you-tube.
2. Google "Tom murphy do the math blog", he is a physics professor and every single post there is worth reading, and in particular the conversation with an economist.
3. See the movie growthbusters at growthbusters.org. See also growthbiasbusted dot org.
4. Read the book limits to growth the 30 year update.
As we unveil EE Times’ 2015 Silicon 60 list, journalist & Silicon 60 researcher Peter Clarke hosts a conversation on startups in the electronics industry. Panelists Dan Armbrust (investment firm Silicon Catalyst), Andrew Kau (venture capital firm Walden International), and Stan Boland (successful serial entrepreneur, former CEO of Neul, Icera) join in the live debate.