Thursday, September 11, 2014

Case Study

In the photo above, W.G. Nye and Loy E. Moore, owners of the Peerless Incinerator Company, display their inventory of backyard incinerators as they hear reports of banning all incinerators. "We're convinced we're being made the goats for some other industry," said Moore, Oct. 20, 1954. Incinerators were finally banned in So Cal on Oct. 1, 1957, and people had to tear them out. Then the trash collection industry went into business, bigtime. Previously only food garbage was picked up. This was before electric garbage disposals were installed in kitchen sinks and changed the habits around food waste, as well.

A very complete article is here, and you'll find the history of trash, going forward, here.

By 1956, Los Angeles County had started to phase in trash collection in areas where incinerator use was being phased out. A total ban on incinerators was in place by October 1, 1957. Thus the death of one industry, backyard trash incineration, gave birth to a massive new one. The public safety issue of pollution in the Los Angeles basin had trumped the "politics as usual" around the smokestack industries because of the obvious pollution impacts on human health and the environment. This legislative route to zero is a good precedent for the methodology that will be needed to phase out fossil fuels in order to get to zero by 2050.

The practical impact of going to zero on fossil fuels will require a layered system of "zero points" on carbon emissions for various fuels. Based upon the weight of carbon emissions, it's necessary to phase out the heaviest fuels first as the transition is made to renewable and zero-carbon fuels. The carbon limits on fuels can be layered so that the most rapid cutbacks are mandated by zero emissions per fuel type by weight of carbon. This can be a VERY effective system in the management of the convergence of emissions if they're adopted globally, based upon a system such as Contraction & Convergence, with the contraction year set at 2020.

For example, in the scenario where the global budget is equitably distributed at RCP 2.6, the "zero year" for these fuels are established as 2020 for coal, 2025 for fracked gas, 2030 for oil, and 2050 for natural gas. The other fuels, wind/wave/solar/geothermal/hydroelectric/algae/ethanol, have no zero date, and thus are the targets for long-term investment strategies.

Setting up a rough chart for this, the height of the carbon emission bar chart of carbon per unit of energy is taken from the EIA page.

What this does is tell the global industries and investors the timeline allowed to taper to zero for each fuel under RCP 2.6 so that we don't exceed 2C in our ecosphere; this is the stability needed to get off of carbon sources and move to clean energy with exceedingly rapid investment and development. So the chart for the convergence sequence implementation starts to look like this. The rapidity with which the carbon is reduced is quite revealing, and using sequential zero years shows that this can be very effective, just as it was in Los Angeles in the 1960's and '70's and the air began to clear significantly.