Carbon dioxide continues to increase in the atmosphere with a major milestone of 400 parts per million of CO2 recorded in the Southern Hemisphere according to CSIRO’s Dr David Etheridge.
We as a race are always on the look out for the signs of rising global greenhouse emissions, and one of the markers are the levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. It has been theorized that the upper limit, before we reach the point of no return, is 400 parts per million.
The test point for this marker in the southern hemisphere has been at the Cape Grim weather station in Tasmania. According to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, this safety level was breached on Tuesday May 10 at 8am.
We are not totally to blame, as there is a natural phenomenon in work here as well. The giant El Nino event, which is now on the wane, tends to initiate higher global temperatures, causing droughts, and as a result there is less vegetation on a global scale to reduce CO2 from the atmosphere.
Still, far from innocent, we continue to add to the emissions instead of doing more to bring down the CO2 emissions, so that milestone of 400 units per million is set to rise, even as El Nino disappears. We’re still intent on burning coal like there’s no tomorrow, and not accept that the need for a global renewable energy revolution is the only way forward.
While we watch the reader on the CO2 volumes grimly rise up, heading for the terrible 485 units per million that could well symbolize the end of the world, as we know it, the cost of renewable energy is dropping steadily. It hasn’t reached free-fall just yet, that moment is coming, but it has reached a point where it can comfortably be said that it is less than coal or nuclear energy, despite what Eskom says. At a renewable energy conference held by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa late in 2015, the following figures were put forward.
A unit of electricity from Eskom’s new coal plants cost about R0,80/kWh,
from nuclear R1,00/kWh
while a unit of electricity from solar photovoltaic cost R0,80/kWh and from wind only R0,60/kWh. So we’re totally in the game.
Then, there are no input costs for wind and solar energy, obviously. Coal mining comes at massive environmental cost, water pollution, human health impacts, a huge water footprint as well as the aforementioned climate change. None of these are taken into account, obviously, when working out the price for coal power. Quite convenient for Eskom but when they have the challenge of facing off with the face that wind and solar are free, they have no choice but to become spin doctors’.
There are few certainties in life. Death and taxes, as mentioned by Benjamin Franklin back in the day, have been discussed. Other certainties are that the CO2 count is going to continue to rise, while the cost of solar and renewable will continue to drop.
If we are very, very lucky we might find some place of equilibrium, followed on by a possibility of global warming going into a recession of sorts, but that’s actually a long shot.