Monday, June 2, 2014

Carbon Dioxide aka CO2 Emissions :: Playing with the Math :: Corrected Version

So I wake up this morning and put on the coffee and start to read the news. Right up there at the top is this:

Down towards the bottom of the piece, they throw out the figure 2.05 billion metric tonnes for 2013 CO2 emissions (from coal-fired power plants alone).

So naturally, I hop on over to an old blog post of mine to check/cognitate/validate/equilibrate/machinate to otherwise make some rusty-old-carbon-based-life-form-gears kick in and make sense of this figure. Keep in mind that those mind gears of mine are lubricated with high-fructose corn syrup - which ain't a good thing. (grin)

So, immediately (EEmEEdEE-EETLEE like they over-EE-none-CEE-ATE it on NPR), I notice my frickin' math is off. By an order of a thousand or something or other.

You dumbfuck!, I exclaim, and EE-MEE-DEE-EET-LEE run out to my officehovelcave to re-run the numbers and make the corrections.

Big difference in the numbers. BIG, difference. I remember thinking (when I ran the original numbers) that it didn't seem like that much CO2 (by weight). I shoulda double-checked myself.

Shouldawouldacoulda. My mantra these days.

Here's the old post with the wrong math -

Below is the revised post - with the math corrected correctly, I hope. Someone please check my "simple" math. Thanks in advance.

I was looking for data on total U.S. energy usage - something to validate the 5 terawatt figure I have rolling around in my head - when I ran across another troubling figure.

Annual CO2 emissions (from fossil fuels) in the U.S. are estimated this year at 5,981.5 million metric tons or tonnes. A tonne is 1000 kilograms or 2205 pounds.

I pull up a blank Excel spreadsheet to start doing the math - simple unit conversions.

So that's 5,981,500,000,000 or five trillion, nine hundred eighty one billion, five hundred million tonnes.

In pounds, that equals 13,189,207,500,000,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere each year. Thirteen quadrillion, blah, blah, blah pounds.

I decide to convert this into units I can get my head around.

The curb weight of one Ford Expedition is give or take 5500 pounds.

That equates to 2,398,037,727,273 [two trillion, three hundred ninety eight billion, thirty seven million, seven hundred twenty seven thousand, two-hundred seventy-three] Ford Expeditions [by weight, not volume], a figure that's still difficult to comprehend. Try writing a check out for that amount! Ha!

A Ford Expedition takes up a footprint of roughly 110.70 square feet. Those 2.398 trillion Ford Expeditions parked side to side, bumper to bumper, would cover 9,522,176 (nine million five-hundred twenty-two thousand one hundred seventy-six) square miles.

Still meaningless?

The United States is 3,537,379 square miles in size.

So that's the entire United States, including Alaska and Hawaii, covered solid with 2.67 (two and two-thirds) layers of Ford Expeditions.

That's just for one year. The annual amount will continue to grow each year to 6800 million tonnes in 2030.

That's just emissions for the United States - you would have to figger in the rest of the industrialized world. Note that this is all CO2 emissions from burning all types of fossil fuels. Then you've got wood and dung and whatever the fuck people are burning.

Ready to reduce your carbon footprint now?

Yeah, that's it, you got it - go ahead and screw in your little fluorescent twisty bulb thingies. Bring your cloth sacks to the grocery store and don't use their plastic bags. String a clothesline. Set the thermostat to sweat in the summer and shiver in the winter. Upgrade your old fridgerator to an Energy Star model. Sell your car and ride your bike. Hell, go ahead and sell both cars. Sell your house or condo and move into a teepee, or a yurt. Erect a solar PV panel to power your computer and tee-tiny two cubic foot refrigerator. Tend your energy usage to zero.

Go ahead and do it, do your part. It still won't be enough to make a difference. Why not? Because there are five billion other people on the planet who will never do it.

Houston, we have a problem.

So you've made it this far and probably noted that I didn't say anything about the article, or Obama, or the EPA's new rule or whatever that is coming out today to reduce CO2 emissions by 30% by 2030. So 30% of 2.05 billion (metric tonnes) over 16 years equates to 10 billion metric tonnes of CO2 "not" pumped into the atmosphere. That's if they started the 0.615 billion metric tonne annual reduction this year.

During the same 16 year period, we've pumped roughly 96 trillion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere - rough math of 6.0 trillion tonnes/yr x 16 years.

So, the long and the short of it is that we'll cut 0.1 trillion (one tenth of one trillion) tonnes against a 96 trillion tonne CO2 load. Over sixteen years.

Helluva tiny drop in a helluva big bucket.

Fuckers. Fuckin' disinforming onion-eyed miscreants.

Hey at least we're talking about it.

Baby steps, right?

Some might say we oughta be happy about this news.

It just pisses me off.

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