CO2 is Plant Food (Clean Coal, Say WATT?)

Guest Post by Ira Glickstein.

When Lord Monckton told Congress “CO2 is plant food”, the Global Warming activists went crazy because … well, because they know he spoke an inconvenient truth. Monckton’s statement was ridiculed in many blog posts and You Tube videos, but no one directly contradicted his claim because it is clearly correct. Instead, they changed the subject to the supposed effects of rising Carbon Dioxide: too little AND too much precipitation (drought/flood), unusually high AND low temperatures (burn/freeze), and other contradictory consequences.

But, no one can deny the truth. Plants live on CO2. They are made of carbohydrates (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen). They get their carbon from the CO2 in the atmosphere. It is a fact that the best food crop yields occur when plants are grown in atmospheres that are triple or quadruple current CO2 levels. That proves current CO2 levels are way below most of the period of plant life evolution and adaptation on Earth.

This posting is about a concept that unites two technologies I predict will gain prominence in coming decades: Underground Coal Gasification and Elevated CO2 Farming, and how they may be united to provide a sustainable ENERGY and FOOD supply for the coming century.


See Clean Coal (Say WATT?) for an introduction to the concept of clean coal as a critical part of our energy future.

Also download this narrated PowerPoint Show for an animated version of this posting, complete with audio description and more detailed graphics than posted here.

SUSTAINABLE ENERGY AND FOOD CONCEPT

The concept illustrated in the graphic is based on using underground gasified coal (or coal to liquid as an alternative) to generate both electrical POWER and provide CO2 as a plant food in an elevated CO2 greenhouse that produces FOOD as a byproduct, with biomass feedback to generate biogas as additional fuel for power generation.

As indicated, there are three steps to the process:

  1. Underground Coal Gasification, Burning the Coalgas to POWER the generation of electricity, and Capture of the resultant CO2 (the plant food).
  2. Growing FOOD in an elevated CO2 greenhouse where, using the captured CO2 and the energy of the Sun, yields are greatly improved.
  3. Recycling the cellulose and other non-edible biowaste into biogas (methane, etc.) that may be fed back into the fuel supply system for electrical power generation.

WHY COAL?

Coal is currently the most used fuel for generating electrical power in the US, and it is the centerpiece of this concept because it is the most plentiful here and in many other countries. As indicated in the graphic, fossil fuels, namely coal, natural gas, and oil, constitute about 70% of electrical generation in the US. These fuels create CO2 when burned. CO2 has been depicted as a poison, with James Hansen calling coal trains “death trains” and coal-fired electric plants “factories of death”. There are proposals to capture the CO2 and re-sequester it by pumping it into old oil wells, perhaps extracting additional oil by doing so. It seems to me it would be smarter to use the CO2 for the purpose Nature intended, as plant food!

The remaining 30% of US electric generation may be considered “green”. Of that, most is nuclear. We should have done a better job using nuclear, as France did, but we were scared away from it by the dangers of release of radiation and radioactive waste. There is a resurgence of interest in nuclear and we may see more new plants built at some time in the future, but the regulatory environment is daunting.

The “renewable” component of “green” energy makes up about 11.5% of the US total, and consists mostly of water (hydroelectric) with some wind and other sources such as direct solar electric. These pure forms of “green” will probably grow, under the umbrella of government subsidies, but they are unlikely to provide much more than 20% of our electricity for decades, if ever.

MORE DETAIL ON THE SUSTAINABLE ENERGY AND FOOD CONCEPT

The chemistry of the concept is diagrammed in the graphic.

1) Gasified Coal-Fired Power Plant with CO2 Capture

(a) Underground Gasified Coal.

Coalgas (also called synthetic gas or syngas) may be generated within a coal mine. This is done almost completely underground to reduce transport costs and pollution. Safety is improved because there are no personnel required within the mine itself. This technique is especially suitable for very deep mines, where traditional methods would be more expensive, or for low-quality or depleted mines. Newly developed technology makes possible robots that operate in harsh environments as well as remotely-controlled sensors and actuators that permit the highest possible level of control of the gasification process.

Gasification works by first igniting the coal within the coal seam and then pumping in air and water in quantities that are just sufficient to maintain incomplete combustion, such that combustible Hydrogen and Carbon Monoxide are generated. The chemistry is as follows:

6C {carbon from coal} + 2H2O {water} + 2O2 {Oxygen from air} ==> Coalgas: 4H {hydrogen} + 6CO {Carbon Monoxide}

Description of formula: Coal is almost completely carbon. Six Carbon atoms (6C) are combined with two water molecules (2H2O) and two Oxygen molecules (2O2) to produce Coalgas that consists of four hydrogen atoms (4H) and six Carbon Monoxide molecules (6CO).

Coalgas may be further processed to yield liquid from coal, or it may be used directly as fuel in an electrical power plant.

(b) Burning the Coalgas and Capturing the CO2.

The coalgas is piped to the power plant where it is burned to heat the boiler and generate steam to run the generators. Electrical POWER is transmitted to customers via the grid.

The chemistry is as follows:

Coalgas: 4H {Hydrogen} + 6CO {Carbon Monoxide} + 4O2 {Oxygen from air} ==> POWER + 6CO2 {Carbon Dioxide} + 2H2O {Water}

Description of formula: Coalgas, consisting of four Hydrogen atoms (4H) and the six Carbon Monoxide molecules (6CO), when burned in the powerplant, yield POWER to drive generation of electricity plus six Carbon Dioxide molecules (6CO2) and two water molecules (2H2O).

CO2 has been wrongly depicted as a poison. There are projects underway to re-sequester the carbon by pumping it into abandoned oil wells and so on, possibly recovering additional oil in the process. However, since CO2 is plant food, I think it makes far more sense to capture and utilize this valuable product to grow food!

2. Elevated CO2 Greenhouse.

The current concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is about 390 ppm (parts per million). Doubling or tripling that level in a CO2 greenhouse can greatly increase the yield of many crops. It turns out that 1000 to 1400 ppm is ideal for increasing production of tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce by from 20% to 50%; grains such as rice, wheat, barley, oats, and rye by from 25% to 64%; roots such as potatoes, yams, and cassava by from 18% to 75%, and legumes such as peas, beans, and soybeans by 28% to 46%! It is likely that genetic engineering could develop new food crops that would thrive in CO2 levels of 2000 ppm or even higher, greatly increasing yields.

CO2 is essential to photosynthesis, the process by which plants use sunlight to produce carbohydrates – the material of which their roots, body, and fruits consist. Increasing CO2 level reduces the time needed by plants to mature. CO2 enters the plant through microscopic pores that are mainly located on the underside of the leaf. This enables plants to combine CO2 and water, with the aid of light energy, to form sugar. Nutrients and water uptake usually increase with higher levels of CO2 and plants develop larger, more extensive root systems that allow them to exploit additional pockets of water and nutrients, and spend less metabolic energy to capture vital nutrients. The chemistry is as follows:

6CO2 {Carbon Dioxide) + 2H2O {water} + 4H2O (added water) + SOLAR ENERGY ==> C6H12O6 (sugar} + 6O2 {Oxygen}

Description of formula: The combustion process produced six Carbon Dioxide molecules (i.e. PLANT FOOD) plus 2 water molecules. To these we add four molecules of water plus the ENERGY from the Sun. This yields FOOD in the form of a sugar molecule as well as six molecules of Oxygen, released into the atmosphere to partially compensate for some of the Oxygen used during the combustion process.

3) Recycling Cellulose to Biogas. Parts of the plant that are inedible, such as cellulose (chemical formula C6H10O6), are biowaste that may be fermented to form biogas, such as methane, which may be pumped back into the combustion process described in step (1).

CONCLUSIONS

The sustainable ENERGY and FOOD concept outlined here has the potential to provide necessary electricity along with foods in the form of vegetables, grains, roots, and legumes in a most efficient manner with minimum release of CO2 to the atmosphere. The concept makes use of coal, which is plentiful in the US and many other countries.

It will be many decades, if ever, before renewable energy sources, such as wind, water, and solar can provide levels of electricity needed for the human population. Nuclear energy, currently around 30% in the US, is probably the best alternative, as France, with over 70%, and other countries have demonstrated. However, despite growing acceptance of nuclear in the US, it remains fraught with regulatory paralysis and “not in my backyard” parochialism.

Clean coal, which even President Obama has said he will defend, is the best answer for the coming several decades at least. There are two aspects to clean coal: (a) Prior to combustion: Reducing release of pollutants onto land or into water or the atmosphere, and (b) After combustion: Capturing and re-sequestering the CO2 and other products of combustion. Underground coal gasification (or the alternative, coal to liquid) is the answer to (a). However, the idea that the answer to (b) should be sequestering CO2 by pumping into old oil wells strikes me as a waste of a valuable plant food resource.

I’m just a systems engineer, but I’m quick on the uptake and have the ability to absorb a little bit about a lot of things – just enough to come up with innovative concepts that may or may not be practical (and, even if practical, are bound to have some sticking points that need lots of detailed study, science, and engineering :^). I love to work with domain experts who know how to dig deep in their area of specialization. I’d appreciate comments on this proposal by WUWT readers who have, I am sure, far more detailed and specific knowledge of the science and technology involved in this concept.

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About Ira Glickstein, PhD

[Retired] Senior System Engineer (Advanced Avionics and Visionics, Route Planning, Decision Aiding, Five Patents ... at IBM, Lockheed-Martin); Adjunct Associate Professor (System Engineering at University of Maryland, System Science and Computer Science at Binghamton University); PhD in System Science (Binghamton University, 1996); MS in System Science (Binghamton); Bachelors in Electrical Engineering (CCNY)
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110 Responses to CO2 is Plant Food (Clean Coal, Say WATT?)

  1. tokyoboy says:

    As a 35-year researcher of chemical aspects of photosynthesis, “CO2 is a benign substance” is what I say or write in the first place, when discussing the global warming/climate change/disruption issue (& fiasco).

  2. apachewhoknows says:

    Net farm/crop food income from the areas of the U.S. who vote for supporters of man made global warming approaches absolute zero. This Zero knows.

  3. Jeremy says:

    This won’t be economic. If it was then it would have already been done. Power is needed in big cities and industrial regions. Rural areas are where food is grown. Greenhouses are expensive.

  4. Baa Humbug says:

    Though my knowledge is limited, I’m unaware of any life form that doesn’t thrive when it’s food is plentiful.

    Considering CO2 is the very first link in the well known food chain, it follows that all life forms will benefit from an increase in this food.
    Those who believe otherwise will need to come up with some unique proof.

  5. Tim Folkerts says:

    After a little Googling, I was surprised to see just how extensive greenhouses already are in some areas (like Almería in Spain and the Netherlands). So perhaps the economics are no quite as but as I would have guessed at first. I suspect, even so, that only “high value” crops would be economical (like vegetables and flowers, not rice and wheat).

    Still, pumping gas around large area with the proper concentration of CO2 would seem quite a challenge. And I also wonder about other pollutants that are inevitably produced when coal is burned (CO, SO2, particulates, heavy metals ….). If these are concentrated in greenhouses along with the CO2, the levels might well end up hazardous to either the plants or the workers.

    “This yields FOOD in the form of a sugar molecule as well as six molecules of Oxygen, released into the atmosphere to partially compensate for some of the Oxygen used during the combustion process.”
    I don’t think this is true about compensating for O2. The only way that EXCESS O2 would be produced is if EXCESS plant mater was produced. In other words, there would have to be a net sequestering of carbon in biomass. But the greenhouses would be neutral in this respect. The plants grown each your would be
    1) burned in the proposed powerplants
    2) “burned” buy people as calories
    3) decayed
    All of these would then return the CO2 to the atmosphere.

  6. Good post Ira – thanks!

    In practical terms it would seem that this is one of those technologies which has to start small and grow – its big advantage really.

    One thing you should mention in your proposal is that levels of 1,200 – 1,400 ppm of CO2 is not harmful to human beings. I think that the level has to get up to around 3,000(???) before it becomes toxic to us. This will be an important statistic for the greenhouse workers!!! The other important point is that I also understand that below 200 ppm plants do not grow…

  7. Owen says:

    Madness I’m afraid.

    An experimental in ground coal ->gas plant in Australia was shut down when carcinogens were found in farm & town bore water.

    As a organic chemist, I would be totally opposed to such schemes as the ground will be poisoned for generations with toxic compounds from the pyrogenic process.

    Far better (though I admit more expensive) is to mine, then produce the gas in above ground plants. The Toxic phenols etc can be extracted for use in other chemical industries.

  8. Pamela Gray says:

    Row crop acreage runs in the millions in EACH state. Since growing these crops in greenhouses raises the cost of production by a BUNCH as opposed to open air fields, the price of veggies you get from greenhouses will rise substantially. Tell me how this is a good thing?

    There is no need to capture CO2. No need to add the cost of greenhouses to the cost of raising veggies. This is just throwing money away on a non-problem resulting in increased prices for no reason whatsoever. Folks who think that greenhouse farming can feed a nation, let alone a world, are sadly mistaken. As mistaken as those who think windmills can provide the electrical demands of a quality of life that allows for a longer, less diseased existence.

    This idea is foo foo and is yet another attempt of a non-farmer thinking that they know where their plate of food comes from, and how easy and cheap it is to grow it, so what’s a few pennies more.

    Balderdash I say.

  9. Pamela Gray says:

    AND…grains in a greenhouse???? Laughable! Do you have any idea just how large wheat fields are????? Even here in hillside combine land we have HUGE fields! And I should know cuz I picked the gawdamned rocks out of those fields so that equipment wouldn’t break down. AND if I were taller, I could tell you about the experience of pulling wild oats out of those fields. But I was too short to see above the stock let alone the tassel, in order to determine what the hell I was pulling (wild oats grow taller than wheat and domesticated oats)! So Grandpa wouldn’t let me pull wild oats. But I did get to ride in the grain truck.

    I digress. But I think I have made my point. Please, be a farmer before you try to tell real farmers how to raise crops. Can’t wait to show this article to farmers and ranchers at the Lostine Tavern Friday night.

  10. Tom t says:

    You don’t get it at all. You want to use fuel to make food. The idea is to use food to make fuel, like Ethanol. This way more people will starve to death reducing over population, and save the planet. Then it will be the environmentalists dream come true.

  11. jorgekafkazar says:

    Yayy, Glick!

  12. Bulldust says:

    Some ideas never make it off the drawing table. I remember that some metallurgist got all excited in Britain about the effect of urea increasing the extraction rate of gold cyanide-leaching (down from about 20 hours to 2 hours, or soemthing of that order). He ran off to South Africa to sell the concept, only to be confronted by the inevitable economic demise of his idea. Not only would urea be relatively expensive as a reagent, more importantly pachuca (leach) tanks are incredibly cheap to build. so what looked like a great result in the lab was completely uneconomic in real life.

    Unfortunately this idea falls in the same category for reasons mentioned by others above. That’s not to say it isn’t a neat idea, it is simply that it isn’t practical nor economic.

    BTW what would be the mass balance I wonder? i.e. how many hectares (acres whatever) of crops would be required to balance the CO2 emissions of a typical power plant?

    I think we shall stick to the traditional atmospheric fertilisation system for now… I like that. The Greens love using euphemistic terminology so from now on I am going to call CO2 emissions atmospheric fertilising instead. /nod

  13. Nonoy Oplas says:

    Great post, thanks Anthony, Ira. I made a brief discussion about this article here, http://funwithgovernment.blogspot.com/2011/01/co2-is-plant-food.html

  14. Rhoda R says:

    Pamela Grey – great reply. No need to do this because CO2 isn’t a poison and doesnt need to be sequestered.

  15. JohnM says:

    Nice read.
    The point about greenism is missed though.
    The point being that from their point of view [greens] there are too many people.
    The idea is not to feed and house people, the idea is to “lose” several billion people.
    apparently, we only need a few million people in the entire world: Greens, of course.

  16. Mike D. says:

    Ditto Ms. Gray. Especially the part about non-farmers having not a clue about where their food comes from, or how, or the source of the wood products they consume, or even their water and air.

    Engineers! There’s an old joke that goes: What do engineers use for birth control?

    Answer: their personalities! And it works!

    New joke: Where do engineers think their food comes from?

    Answer: the supermarket!!!!

  17. Grey Lensman says:

    A truly awesome, stunning, vital post. All Watts readers must read it and digest it and act upon the information that it contains.

    Please add in geothermal, its vital and only lacks co2 but that can be obtained easily from other sources. In cold climes the waste heat can warm computer climate controlled greenhouses growing high value foods. all year round in rotation.

    We also, contrary to big corp claims, have a viable green organic way to convert plant cellulose into plant sugars suitable for fermenting into biofuel. We can also reverse engineer the process to provide very efficient sewage disposal.

    This is a positive way to constructively dismantle the Watermelon claims and fear mongering.

  18. Myrrh says:

    Not a world of Greens, some greens and the rest to service their needs.

    Several times in UK last year the idea of an opt out clause being put into place re ownership of one’s own body.. As they did with private health care information kept on cards by GP, government claimed all information for itself with opt out clause hardly announced 2-3 weeks in advance of it happening. Rights being eroded, US Constitution is trashed by the bogey of constant war on terrorism; the list goes on.

    http://notrickszone.com/2011/01/03/germany-passes-energy-tyranny-act-will-force-energy-rationing/

    http://wideshut.co.uk/the-body-scanner-scam/

    Sociopaths have a tendency to rise to the top defying gravity and staying in power for hundreds and thousands of years..

    ..need to remember, they’re already genetically skewed, they’re not very well.

  19. petrossa says:

    The Netherlands is a big exporter of vegetables,flowers and fruit. The total is about 30 billion euro per year, or a quarter of total export.
    This is mostly due to its extensive use of greenhouses since the largest part of the scarce aerable land is used for livestock. At the moment multi-floor greenhouses are being built with co2 at 1000 ppm. The yield per m2 is doubled already due to the multi-floor and again doubled due to the high co2 concetration.
    All this in a country with a rather cold climate. I’d say Zero is right on the mark.

  20. Frosty says:

    Yield increase is a bit ambiguous IMO.

    Sure plants grow faster with enhanced Co2 (up to around 1500ppm) and can tolerate higher temps, and use less water too. However, a 75% increase in yeild/time for potatoes is not going to grow into a potato plant with 75% more potatoes.

    More crop rotations can be planted sure, but will all crops rotate right through winter? Will that 75% yield/time improvement really translate into maximum yield/time efficiency all year round?

    Even if the gas was piped into crops in open fields negating the greenhouses, the scale is just too big IMO, I’m not sure you could even squeeze another crop rotation in, maybe in the tropics, though with food prices ten times today’s who knows what they will try.

  21. oldseadog says:

    According to some, we already live in/on a giant greenhouse, so why not just keep pumping out the CO2 and let the plants use it the way they do now.
    Eventually the system might reach equilibrium!

  22. Richard S Courtney says:

    Some people never learn, and the above article proves Ira Glickstein is one of them.

    On 30 December I posted a correction to a similar article that he then posted because he does not know what coal gasification is, how it is done, and problems of doing it underground.

    His failure to correct his misunderstanding of what gasificatin is in the above article causes me to suspect he may be promoting yet another underground-gasificiation-trial scam.

    My post on WUWT on 30 December 2010 was as follows.

    Richard

    At December 30, 2010 at 10:47 pm you quote “Ira” and ask:

    “ “As I understand the process, once it is initiated, it involves injecting air and water into the coal seam. (C3{coal} + H2O{water} + O2{from air} → Coalgas which is 2H{hydrogen} + 3CO{carbon monoxide}) Ira]”

    isn’t energy input required to split the water molecule?”

    Yes, it is, and Ira does not understand coal gasification and why underground gasification is impractical. Indeed, he confuses gasification and water-gas shift.

    The following briefly explains coal gasification both in gasifiers and in coal seams..

    Coal is mostly carbon (C) and burns by combining with oxygen (O) to form carbon dioxide (CO2) in a two-stage process.

    Stage 1.
    The first combines oxygen and carbon to form carbon monoxide (CO)

    2.C + O2  2.CO

    This first reaction is endothermic (i.e. it consumes heat) which is why it is difficult to start a fire.

    Stage 2
    The second combines oxygen and carbon monoxide to form carbon dioxide (CO2).

    2.CO + O2  2.C O2

    This second reaction is exothermic (i.e. it emits heat). Stage 2 emits much more heat that Stage 1 consumes, so their net effect is an emission of heat. And this net emission of heat is why a fire can spread when started.

    Gasification consists of providing the coal with oxygen which is only just sufficient
    (a) to complete Stage 1; i.e. sufficient oxygen to convert all the carbon to carbon monoxide
    and
    (b) to conduct enough of Stage 2 to enable Stage 1; i.e. sufficient oxygen to convert sufficient carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide to provide the heat needed for the formation of carbon monoxide.

    The result is a gas which is rich in carbon monoxide with some carbon dioxide. Burning this gas provides the same output of heat as would have been obtained from burning the coal which was gasified.

    Gasification is conducted in chemical reactors called gasifiers. Some gasifiers react the coal with pure oxygen, but most gasifiers use air as the oxygen supply so they provide a gas which is mostly nitrogen (because air is mostly nitrogen). A gasified kilo of coal provides the same amount of heat when the resulting gas is burned whether the gasification uses pure oxygen or air, but this heat is in a larger volume of gas obtained when using air because it contains the large addition of nitrogen which is not present in the gas obtained by gasifying with pure oxygen.

    Controlled gasification is not easy. The oxygen and coal must be mixed such that a gasifying surface of a piece of coal receives just sufficient oxygen to complete Stage 1 and then to conduct the correct degree of Stage 2. Too much Stage 1 and the process stops, and too much Stage 2 and the resulting gas provides little heat when burned. Also, the produced gas must be removed from the gasifying surface at a rate which permits the two stages to occur at the required rates.

    This control is achieved in gasifiers but is extremely difficult when conducted in-situ in an underground coal seam.

    Underground gasification consists of pumping air down a shaft drilled into the coal seam, using that air to enable the partial combustion of the coal, and using another shaft to extract the resulting product gas.

    Controlled gasification is extremely difficult when conducting underground gasification. An excess of oxygen needs to be provided to ensure Stage 2 is sustained (otherwise the gasification stops) and this produces a gas that provides little heat when burned (i.e. the gas has low calorific value). Also, the interaction of the oxygen supply and the coal surface varies as the coal seam is gasified so the calorific value of the gas varies.

    Thus, underground coal gasification provides a product gas with low and variable calorific value. Such a gas has little use.

    Also, the removal of the coal seam causes the ground above the seam to subside. Coal mining engineers take great efforts to control this subsidence otherwise surface structures are damaged. But no such control is possible when gasifying the coal seam. And the subsidence cracks the ground above the coal seam that is being converted to the carbon monoxide. Leakage of carbon monoxide from the surface of the ground is a probable hazard in most places: carbon monoxide is a cumulative toxin.

    So, underground coal gasification is not a desirable activity in habited locations.

    The Soviet Union conducted large studies of underground coal gasification in Siberia during the 1920s and 1930s. Several other studies have since been conducted, notably a study in Spain was conducted by the EU who were encouraged to conduct it by the then UK government that wanted to pretend its closure of the UK’s coal industry had not ‘lost’ the UK’s indigenous coal.

    All studies of underground coal gasification have confirmed that it is not viable for the reasons stated above. However, governments repeatedly get suckered into funding studies of it because it is an ‘easy sell’ to those who do not understand its problems. Governments are easily fooled into funding such silly studies; e.g. they also keep being suckered into funding studies of ‘hot rocks’.

    Richard

  23. kim says:

    I’m not going looking for the quote but about six months ago Bill Clinton let slip that CO2 was plant food. My first thought was: ‘Oh, boy, she’s running’. He doesn’t seem to have followed up on the insight, however.
    ================

  24. Jimbo says:

    And they call us deniers.

    Continually take co2 out of a greenhouse and see how long the plants survive.

    As I understand it in the face of ever rising co2 the biosphere has been greening of late.

    The following study found that over a period of almost two decades, the Earth as a whole saw an increased greening of 6.2%. About 25% of the Earth’s vegetated landmass — almost 110 million square kilometres — enjoyed significant increases and only 7% showed significant declines.
    http://modis.cn/pubs/PERS_2007_Liang.pdf

  25. jamie says:

    I’m no expert in any relevant field, but I think it’s a concept that could be looked at further.

    At the very least the idea of capturing the CO2 and using it as a plant food should be explored. Why pump it into old oil wells (which as far as I know, is just as radical and has not been doen before as this idea) when it can be used?

    To people who say things like “greenhouses are expensive” and such like, there are aready massive greenhouses that produce crops on an industrial scale, and plans to make more:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1025689/Welcome-Thanet-Earth-The-biggest-greenhouse-Britain-unveiled.html

    These could be either be located nearer to the power stations or a method of transportation developed.

    Personally, it’s not the way I’d like farming to go, I prefer a more holistic, small scale and more organic approach, if only because it’s better quality…. But I’m sure there are others that are less fussy and with a growing population, super-efficient farming practices are probably the way to go.

    Mr Glickstein is modest enough to acknowlege that this is just a concept at this stage, and it will need input from people who know more in the relevant fields than he does. It’s a great idea, which certainly merits further discussion.

  26. Grey Lensman says:

    Frosty, read the response above your, yields that they have achieved.

    You also need to understand that yield is not everything, quality and nutritional content counts was well.

    So you think outside the box, good rich organic soil, good organic nutrients, co2, heat, light, moisture, what next.

    Organic nano molecular seed stimulation, produces a net doubling in quality yield, stops the use of fertiliser, and pesticides and is very very cost effective. It also enables seeds to germinate to order just when all the conditions are right. It also allows and encourages several varieties to grow in the same field, Drought, no problem, most survive, flood no problem most survive. Its real working principles of biodiversity and science, not fear mongering and “cant do that”

  27. Grey Lensman says:

    Jamie says

    Quote

    super-efficient farming practices are probably the way to go.

    Unquote

    Believe it or not small farms are more efficient, grow a great diversity and are more resilient than so called efficient super farms. Plus organic farming cost no more than factory farming.

    Food for thought indeed.

  28. LazyTeenager says:

    Ira spins
    ———–
    These fuels create CO2 when burned. CO2 has been depicted as a poison, with James Hansen calling coal trains “death trains” and
    ———–
    No it has NOT been depicted as a poison. It has been depicted as being dangerous by overheating, if too much is put into the atmosphere.

    This is playing semantic tricks. Is a truck poisonous if you get run over by one?

  29. LazyTeenager says:

    Ira sensibly suggests
    ———–
    additional oil in the process. However, since CO2 is plant food, I think it makes far more sense to capture and utilize this valuable product to grow food!
    ———–
    I think this proposal is a good one. The idea of surrounding ALL power stations with agricultural green houses fed with waste CO2 seems like a no-brainer to me.

    Large scale green housing is already popular in some countries so it can’t be that far away from being commercially feasible. I believe there has been some startups moving in this direction.

    If you add in other ingredients such bio-fuels from algae fed by the same CO2 stream and biochar to finally sequester the carbon you have a plausible system that looks far less technically risky than most.

    So stop the hand waving, what are the figures to prove or disprove its feasibility? Do multi-domain systems like this have a chance of getting off the ground?

  30. Roger Longstaff says:

    I think that this is a very good work of conceptual system engineering. The detractors miss the point – given the increased efficiencies in the processes involved, can cost effective solutions be found to engineering the required components ?

    As populations increase, and food prices spiral, any new technology will have a “break even point”. Like all innovative system engineering concepts I think that this one is worthy of at least initial study (which does not need to be expensive), by a team that includes specialists in the individual disciplines involved. If it proves to be impractical, or unecomomic, we will have lerned something and can move on.

    A good first step to combating food shortages would be to end the insanity of turning crops into fuel for cars!

  31. Tom Mills says:

    At the end of the day the CO2 produced by fossil fuels is just returning to the atmosphere that which they absorbed when they were plants.

  32. jamie says:

    @ grey lensman
    “Believe it or not small farms are more efficient, grow a great diversity and are more resilient than so called efficient super farms. Plus organic farming cost no more than factory farming.”

    As I say, I prefer a more organic approach. For many reasons, I try to buy local and free range/organic prodice as much as possible too.

    But I don’t think that it is more efficient in terms of yield (not sure how else you would guage it). If it were, why is organic fruit and veg always significantly more expensive than the so called “regular” stuff?

    And the post about Holland also shows this. They are able to extract a maximum amount of value from the minimum amount of land by using these modern techniques. They’ve created a multi-billion euro industry this way. Surely they wouldn’t do it this way if traditional methods were more efficient.

  33. Rabe says:

    Grey Lensman,

    after reading your first response I thought you may have left out the [/sarc] label at the end. Well your second leaves some questions:

    good rich organic soil, good organic nutrients

    what exactly makes them “good” compared to what?

    Organic nano molecular seed stimulation, produces… quality yield.

    Organic nano molecular seed stimulation… stops the use of fertiliser

    Why exactly (with references to scientific peer-reviewed papers, not feel good tell tales) is this desirable?

    Organic nano molecular seed stimulation… stops the use of… pesticides

    Who tested this? Where can I look it up?

    The rest looks like a mix up of well known platitudes from an all knowing, for instance

    Its real working principles of biodiversity and science, not fear mongering…

    Your “pesticides” example looks exactly like that, fear mongering.

  34. kim says:

    LT @ 2:54

    I notice the term ‘no brainer’ and ‘handwaving’ in your post. I suggest you find numbers making your ‘greenhouses surrounding power plants’ cost effective. There, now; go forth and be useful.
    =============

  35. arthur clapham says:

    I made a simple device to produce C02 from yeast sugar and water, placed it in my
    greenhouse and the produced the heaviest crop of tomatoes I have ever grown!

  36. Urederra says:

    Tim Folkerts says:
    January 6, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    After a little Googling, I was surprised to see just how extensive greenhouses already are in some areas (like Almería in Spain and the Netherlands). So perhaps the economics are no quite as but as I would have guessed at first. I suspect, even so, that only “high value” crops would be economical (like vegetables and flowers, not rice and wheat).

    There is a webpage called worldmapper, “where territories are re-sized on each map according to the subject of interest.” If you go to food exports, you would see that Spain and The Netherlands are the top net exporters of vegetables, measured in US dollars worth of veggies.

    http://www.worldmapper.org/display.php?selected=43

  37. 1DandyTroll says:

    However good the idea in all its fanciness, it usually just that, fancy.

    How many permits would be required for even an old abandoned mine and at what cost?

    What would it cost just to battle the environmental organizations, of all sorts, in media and in court rooms to just get the go ahead to start looking at what the cost will be to fill in the cracks of an old mine to seal it from potential hazardous carbon monoxide leaks.

    Imagine the cost if one little, but very special, critter calls said mine home? Or even live in close proximity to the mine.

    This would not be fighting against climate hippies, that just stick their hands down their pants to find any kind of sticky that can be thrown, but actual people who tend to do good practical deeds in preservation and they usually have the moral weight to wield.

    From what I know, locally, it takes several years to just procure the land and permits to set up just handful of commercial wind turbines. And that’s even with some of the environutts on their side. I can only imagine the hysteria if someone would try and reopen an old mine for the use of, essentially but fancier but potentially more toxic, coal fired electricity production.

  38. Grey Lensman says:

    Rabe, you seem very confused to me. Link, you ask? Pesticide “fear mongering” Huh. You dont know what good organic soil is? Really. You not looked it up. Read the studies. Sham,e on you.

    Nano molecular stimulation, of course you have no references, its new its ground breaking, its tested , it works and I am negotiating contracts for it. patents, humbug, they are used to steal or suppress new ideas.

    The real world is competition and established food giants hate competition. They even make their own laws to suppress or criminalize it. Sadly very ably supported by people like yourself with your self hobbling viewpoint. Salve to order so to speak.

    So, if you dont know what organic soil is or real food, you need to start a very long and fun learning curve.

    Its only by being open minded and working from a solutions orientation that problems will be solved. If you start with “thats a problem” you have no change of solving it.

    Notice also I put in no links or sneaky references. My work is there and when its done then is the time. Not now This is just for the readers to know what can be achieved. Not bleating.

  39. Grey Lensman says:

    Arthur brewed his beer in his greenhouse. great thinking, great results.

  40. David says:

    This is spooky – or just a case of Great Minds Think Alike..
    In a recent response to a gentleman at our dear UK Department of Energy And Climate Change (yeah, I know) about how stoopid wind farms are, he of course came out with the mantra that ‘Carbon dioxide causes global warming’. I did in my response of course point out that this was cr*p, but anyway – let me get to the point.
    Having visited websites dedicated to commercial tomato growing, and confirming what I’d heard that they inject carbon dioxide into their polytunnels to concentrations of 800-1000ppm, I suggested to the above gentleman that it might be a good idea to surround new ‘clean coal’ power stations with market gardens, so that instead of ‘burying’ the CO2 at vast expense using untried technology, it could be put to good use..!

  41. Martin Brumby says:

    Underground gassification is highly problematic. See the highly informative comment
    Richard S Courtney says: January 7, 2011 at 1:39 am

    I am also aware of instances where this was tried and it was exceptionally difficult (or impossible) to put the underground fire out. Which is why the Coal Authority in the UK has stated that they will not grant licences for underground gassification trials apart for blocks of coal under the sea.

    Extraction of coal-bed methane looks a better bet.

    But as far as the “greenhouses” idea is concerned, I am aware of one fairly big set up near Drax in Yorkshire. Whether they use CO2 from the furnaces I don’t know but they will certainly use some of the excess heat diverted from the cooling tower circuits.

    There is also a fair sized operation near Lynemouth power station in Northumberland. In that case growing ragworms for fish farms and for bait. And also for medical research (using worm blood). But some which I believe are exported to the Far East! Don’t ask what they do with them – just think that they are apparently very nutricious!
    http://www.seabait.com/about_us.html
    But again, it is waste heat, not CO2 which is the attraction.

    As CO2 isn’t a problem, spending trillions on “solutions” doesn’t seem a smart idea.

  42. pwl says:

    Ira Glickstein,

    An excellent article Ira with many excellent ideas that I’ve been saying for about two years now… CO2 is GREEN PLANT FOOD. More Co2 = More Green Food on Planet Earth = More Food for Humans and other animals. Anti-CO2 is Anti-Life!

    CO2 is a resource for growing food (and some other purposes). If one can make use of it when one is generating energy that just makes GREEN sense, in other senses of GREEN: green as in money and green as in environment!

    It also makes sense to release that CO2 from it’s current Carbon Sequestration in Coal and other hydrocarbons and get it circulating once again to provide for more Carbon for Plants to Green The Earth! Burning Fossil Fuels is being Green! Sure, filter out the actual pollutants in the process but CO2 is Green Life and not just for plants but for humans too!

    Thanks for getting the word out about the positive aspects of CO2 Ira.

    All the best,

    peter

  43. Grey Lensman says:

    I know that it is silly but it is a meme that i coined. Gaia screwed up, all the co2 was getting locked up. She experimented with low carbon grasses but still the co2 declined. The planet was heading for extinction. Oh what to do. So she invented humans, gave them the brains to unlock the carbon And low and behold the planet began to green again.

    Silly, maybe but a lot of truths are.

    Wrote that on one of my blogs, so may be able to track it and I have seen references to the idea recently.

  44. slp says:

    LazyTeenager says:

    Ira spins
    ———–
    These fuels create CO2 when burned. CO2 has been depicted as a poison, with James Hansen calling coal trains “death trains” and
    ———–
    No it has NOT been depicted as a poison. It has been depicted as being dangerous by overheating, if too much is put into the atmosphere.

    This is playing semantic tricks. Is a truck poisonous if you get run over by one?

    Actually, carbon dioxide is constantly being depicted as a pollutant (which it is not), and pollutants are often considered to be poison.

  45. Smokey says:

    Excellent article. Good follow-up to a previous WUWT article from 2008:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/06/08/surprise-earths-biosphere-is-booming-co2-the-cause

  46. Noelmc says:

    Using CO2 to increase crop yields is being used commercially in the UK.
    Britsh Sugar have been piping its waste CO2 (and heat) from its Wissington factory to 11 hectares of green houses to help grow 70,000 tomatoes a year

    http://www.greeneryuk.com/sustainability.php

  47. Noelmc says:

    sorry should have said 70 million tomatoes a year

  48. Problem? 24 hour power production needed, plants sleep and exhale CO2 at night.
    Do you adjust the power production to match growing needs? Or just vent to the open atmosphere, the excess CO2 at night?

    THEY bitch about CO2 but want to produce massive amounts of CO a deadly toxin that accumulates with exposure time, to seep out into the still air surrounding the open coal mine on fire. You should look up the natural instances of death of livestock and people as a result of underground fires in old coal mines.

  49. Pamela Gray says:

    Organic is better quality? Once again I am shocked I say, gobsmacked, and flabbergasted (and being facetious) at the puny understanding of some related to veggie production’s history from wormy, bruised, no-shelf-life produce we once had access to compared to the firm, ripe, unblemished, long-lived veggies we have become used to. Those who think that organic is better are entirely without a clue as to how non-organic farming practices have resulted in drastic reductions in low quality produce on the shelf, including regional and local sourced produce, and in world hunger, even hunger out our own backdoor. We are a spoiled rotten populous who want our pretty veggies untouched by the sullied hands of non-organic farming.

    While the fruits and veggies have gotten prettier, we are the ones who have become spoiled rotten.

    I tell you what, if you want to go back to spoiled rotten fruits and veggies, you had better crawl through your great-grandma’s recipe file for ways to use bruised, wormy, rotten produce. Why? Because that was what much of real organic produce looked like.

  50. Khwarizmi says:

    Lazy teenager, you said:
    …”biochar“…

    That’s when you cull a forest, turn it into a pile of charcoal, then bury it in a pit in order to sequester some of the “carbon pollution” the forest accidentally incorporated into itself…
    Correct?

  51. JHFolsom says:

    If you are going to buy the argument that CO2 needs to be cleaned from the atmosphere then could you also buy the argument that it is well mixed and therefore does not need any contraption to be distributed to CO2 cleaning plants but can simply and economically be released to the open air? Thanks.

  52. meemoe_uk says:

    hey, that was my idea ira! I just didn’t bother to write it up.
    Well, less likely Anthony would have noticed if I’d sent it in. No letters next to my name see.
    This is more a reason why the top international money changer family rothschild initiated the AGW meme back in the 1980s, for carbon capture.

    To answer Pamela Gray’s fair point,
    I don’t think gaining control in the grain crop market is the idea.
    Today commercial greenhouses, which pump up the air CO2 to 1000-2000ppm, for perishables like lettuce, are economically viable. With the threat of a new relatively long ice-age glacial period on us, it’s fair to say greenhouses will become more economic in future than they are now.
    So it’s just the old control game that international money changers have played –
    control the food and you control the people – henry kissinger

  53. Tim Folkerts says:
    January 6, 2011 at 8:35 pm
    After a little Googling, I was surprised to see just how extensive greenhouses already are in some areas (like Almería in Spain and the Netherlands). So perhaps the economics are no quite as but as I would have guessed at first. I suspect, even so, that only “high value” crops would be economical (like vegetables and flowers, not rice and wheat). Still, pumping gas around large area with the proper concentration of CO2 would seem quite a challenge. …

    Thanks Tim for your comments. What I have in mind could be different from standard greenhouses that are primarily for temperature control. Perhaps my scheme would take the form of trailer-truck sized hydroponic containers that would be loaded with plantlets in a factory-type set up and then trucked outside where they would be hooked up to an enhanced-CO2 air system and a fertilizer-water system. A transparent plastic cap (or sheet) would be put in place to seal the container. When the mature plants are ready for harvest, the cap would be removed and the container would be trucked into the factory for unloading and processing of the food crop, and reloading of plantlets. Perhaps this would make the scheme economical.

    And I also wonder about other pollutants that are inevitably produced when coal is burned (CO, SO2, particulates, heavy metals ….). If these are concentrated in greenhouses along with the CO2, the levels might well end up hazardous to either the plants or the workers. …

    You are right, pollutants would have to be filtered out as part of the function of the enhanced-CO2 air system and fertilizer-water system. I would not expect any workers to have to be within the sealed containers.

    I don’t think this is true about compensating for O2.

    What I had in mind was that my scheme was like Nature’s way where growing plants produce Oxygen for animals to breathe and animals return CO2 for plants to consume. In my scheme, the Oxygen removed from the air during the combustion process is partially returned ot the air during the plant growing process. Of course, the carbon from the coalgas would end up in the atmosphere.

    Overall, however, I think my scheme will transfer less CO2 into the atmosphere. Normal coal-fired electricity generation releases previously-sequestered carbon and produces CO2, so whatever electricity my scheme produces will reduce that needed from conventional generators. Normal farming grows crops that are eaten by people or animals and thus produce CO2, so whatever food my scheme produces will reduce that needed from conventional farming. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

  54. beng says:

    The way coal is burned right now is perfectly fine. Electrostatic precipitators are required, so fly-ash is no problem. CO2 is plant-food. Even sulfur is demonized unnecessarily, as any farmer that needs more acidic soil knows. Remember the “acid rain” scare? And then the EPA(!) did an extensive study on acid-rain in the early 80s showing acid-rain wasn’t a problem except perhaps some localized streams & ponds in the NE US (and that could easily be combated with lime-addition). The study was even shown by the neo-marxist TV program 60 Minutes, but was ignored completely. No reason to derail all the money/effort that was currently in place to force SO2-scrubbers on most coal-plants.

  55. RHS says:

    I remember reading somewhere the plants dinosaurs ate had to be significantly more nutritious than they are today. This seems to go hand in hand with the amount of co2 at the time being significantly higher than it is today.
    Since I’d like to prove this, where do I apply for the multi-million dollar grant? I promise to spend more than enough money to settle this part of the debate over the next 30 years!

  56. Laure Bowen says:

    The article says: 3) Recycling Cellulose to Bio-gas. Parts of the plant that are inedible, such as cellulose (chemical formula C6H10O6), are bio waste that may be fermented to form bio-gas, such as methane, which may be pumped back into the combustion process described in step (1).

    Inedible to who? Humans Bovines must be provided for too!

    It’s reminds me of what going on with the whole issue with say corn to fuel issue!
    Seems to me there is more that one issue to “balance” here!

    Besides, If I had my choice I would use the “dry ice” to “carpet bomb” the forest fires that tend to arise at times . . . . instead of dumping it in old mine shafts!

  57. Kitefreak says:

    LazyTeenager says:
    January 7, 2011 at 2:40 am
    No it has NOT been depicted as a poison. It has been depicted as being dangerous by overheating, if too much is put into the atmosphere.
    This is playing semantic tricks. Is a truck poisonous if you get run over by one?
    ———————————-
    Well, CO2 has been classified as ‘pollution’ in the US.
    And anyway, why the obsession with road traffic accidents?

  58. Jonathan says:

    In addition to the issues others brought up, with difficulty and expense of building and maintaining the vast greenhouses to hold the high CO2 atmosphere and the pollution risks both from in-ground coal gasification and from capturing and scrubbing combustion gases for the CO2, I’ve got another unaddressed item.

    Increased growth requires increased nutrients. I’m assuming to avoid soil depletion in these high CO2 greenhouses additional fertilizer would be required. It’s also my understanding that producing many types of fertilizer is a high energy process.

    Roughly how much extra power is required to take advantage of this power plant + greenhouse cogeneration scheme?

  59. JanF says:


    petrossa says:
    January 7, 2011 at 12:32 am

    The Netherlands is a big exporter of vegetables,flowers and fruit. The total is about 30 billion euro per year, or a quarter of total export.
    This is mostly due to its extensive use of greenhouses since the largest part of the scarce aerable land is used for livestock. At the moment multi-floor greenhouses are being built with co2 at 1000 ppm. The yield per m2 is doubled already due to the multi-floor and again doubled due to the high co2 concetration.
    All this in a country with a rather cold climate. I’d say Zero is right on the mark.

    In part of the Netherlands there is already a CO2 pipeline from the Pernis area where there is a lot of petrochemical industries. That is where these greenhouses get their extra Co2 from.

  60. Thanks to ALL who have left comments in this thread so far. The positive ones are great -THANKS- but I know I have a lot to learn in this area and I learn the most from those who raise well-informed and well-considered objections to the underground coal gasification and/or elevated CO2 farming schemes. Please continue this thread.

    Underground coal gasification. Several commenters have raised valid questions about the economics, government permitting, the difficulty of remotely controlling the incomplete combustion process, subsidence of the covering land, the possibility of polluting ground water, and the danger of coal seam fires that cannot be extinguished. None of these are trivial issues.

    Underground gasification cannot be applied to all coal mines, or even to most of them. However, as I wrote “This technique is especially suitable for very deep mines, where traditional methods would be more expensive, or for low-quality or depleted mines.

    A very deep deposit is more expensive to mine using conventional methods, so underground gasification may be the least costly method. It may also be safer with respect to water quality. The possibility of uncontrolled underground fires is eliminated if the coal seam is so far underground that it has no access to free air. Ground subsidence is also unlikely if the mine is far underground. Many depleted or low-quality mines are already permitted, so extending the permit to allow underground gasification may be easier. Safety concerns may be addressed by use of robots and remote sensors rather than personnel underground. Advances in computer-control make this type of remote operation far more affordable and capable than ever before. As for economics, well, I am not suggesting that every current or future coal mine be converted to gasification, only those where it may make sense economically, now or in the future.

    Elevated CO2 farming. Again, several commenters have raised valid questions about the economics and usefulness of this kind of scheme. I am not a farmer, but my neighbors (during the decades I lived in upstate New York) were dairy farmers. I had 88 acres of land, and, with the kind advice of nearby farmers who took pity on my wife and I, college grads who were inexperienced about farming, but eager to learn, we did raise hay, had a couple dozen sheep, and a couple of Angus beef as a hobby.

    Several commenters mentioned the extensive use of greenhouse farming in a number of countries, so it is apparently economical in some places and for some crops. Perhaps the extension of the growing season and better control of growing conditions, plant diseases, and pests balance out the higher costs?

    Ask yourself this question: Say there is a coal-fired powerplant that is considering CO2 sequestration to meet some government mandate. (Yes, I know the mandate is ka-ka-poo-poo, but the government has been known to do silly things. I, myself, collected a government subsidy for the wool sheared off my sheep, apparently because, sometime during the civil war, they ran out of domestically-produced wool for sleeping bags and they wanted to prevent that from ever happening again :^) OK, the powerplant is about to capture and compress their CO2 and pipe or truck it to some abandoned oilfield, when someone notices that there is farmland surrounding the plant and -guess what- some farm industry is building a humongous greenhouse and they plan to burn fossil fuel to raise CO2 levels in the greenhouse to get greater yields. Would it not make sense for the powerplant to pipe their CO2 over to the farm operation? (I am not saying the government would allow it, just that it would be a good idea. :^)

    Now, hold that thought in you mind and imagine economies of scale and use of a factory approach to loading plantlets into trailer-truck-sized containers (rather than conventional greenhouses) and harvesting the crop in an automated way, and so on, and perhaps genetic engineering of very high CO2 loving plants with extremely high yields, etc. I am not proposing putting millions of acres of wheatland under glass (at least not immediately :^), just floating an idea that may be pregnant. Think about it!

  61. Roger Longstaff says:

    Does anybody know if there is any evidence of localised crop yield increase downwind of power stations?

    Just a thought……..

  62. Gary Pearse says:

    Many pooh pooh the idea and there is always room for pooh poohing when a presenter uses broad brush strokes. But there are always a majority that say such things as an airplane could never fly – even scientists who proved an airplane could never fly.

    Bulletin for Ira and you naysayers – Greenhouse growing (using CO2 and waste heat) is already a big deal – but outside of US. Did you know that waste heat from Nat Gas pipeline booster blowers is used in colder places like Canada to heat greenhouses and grow cukes, tomatoes etc even in the winter? Did you know that there are only 500 commercial hectares of greenhouses in US, 1000 ha in Canada and 11,0000ha in Netherlands? Here is Ira’s idea in the Netherlands:

    http://bing.search.sympatico.ca/?q=pipeline%20waste%20heat%20greenhouses&mkt=en-ca&setLang=en-CA

    “WarmCO2 will be redistributing up to 84MW of residual heat and 70,000 tons of purified CO2 per year. The CO2 is used by growers to enrich the greenhouse atmosphere and encourage crop growth. Normally they would use a natural gas fired boiler to produce both CO2 and heat throughout the growing season, or a combined heat and power installation that supplies heat, CO2 and electricity, which is then fed back to the national grid.

    As a result of the Terneuzen greenhouse project the redistribution of heat and CO2 from Yara (a fertilizer plant) via WarmCO2 will save some 52 million m3 of natural gas, which translates into a 90% reduction in fossil fuel consumption. This makes Terneuzen one of the most sustainable commercial greenhouse developments in the Netherlands.”

    Right on Ira. You have forecast what we will see in USA in a decade or so.

    Pamela Gray says:
    January 6, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Pamela: Your farmers and ranchers at the Lostine tavern will laugh like goosed hyenas tonight but will be applying for grants to do this tomorrow

  63. John T says:

    Since we’re talking “CO2 is plant food”, maybe someone knows the numbers to do a calculation I’ve often wanted to perform.

    Assuming humans never existed on the planet (never burned fuel), what would the atmospheric CO2 concentration be?

    Given that plants are great at sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere, I was wonder if they would have gotten down to the 150 ppm at which point photosynthesis stops working? Maybe, rather than being the bringers of global destruction, humans have saved life on the planet…

  64. Gary Pearse says:

    Oh one other thing, Ira. Coal based C is not only plant food, the coal itself was former actual plants. Even the so-called horrid toxins in it like sulphur! I think we will come out of all this okay.

  65. ferd berple says:

    How is it that planet grow better if CO2 levels are higher? This simple fact speaks volumes. Plants would have evolved over time to optimize their growth to match their environment.

    If plants grow faster with CO2 it means that they have evolved in an atmosphere that typically had more CO2 than at present. Otherwise, those species that grow better with less CO2 would have out-competed those species that require more CO2 and taken over the land.

    The argument that current CO2 levels are somehow “optimum” is not supported by the facts.

  66. ferd berple says:

    It would be interesting to see a study that determines the optimum level of CO2 for plant production. If plant production continues to increase as CO2 increases, without limit this would suggest their is no evolutionary connection. If however there is an optimum this would suggest it is evolutionary.

  67. Laure Bowen says:

    John T says: Assuming humans never existed on the planet (never burned fuel), what would the atmospheric CO2 concentration be?

    There would have to have been CO2 or there would be very little plant life to begin with . . . I assert that in order for just about any “population” to thrive there must be the resources available to begin with . . .

    I think significantly higher O2 levels would of greater danger to life that higher CO2 levels . . . . It’s the old light a match experiment in higher and higher O2 levels and you would understand the significance if it were world wide . . .

    The phenomenon (of higher O2 levels on a still day) is also why forest are invigorating and why they can burn to a confligeration so quickly . . . (I like the fire tri-angle too)

    A Very good way of understanding the concept.

  68. Grey Lensman says:

    Pamela Gray, I strongly suggest that you check out organic farming and organic produce. You will be surprised to find that it is high tech and quality, nothing to do with your Grandmothers times. The nurturing and feeding of soils and good farming practice ensures quality crops with real nutritional value.

    Crops grown on dead soils and fed only chemicals are virtually bereft of any food value and researchers are stunned to find that accepted food quality and nutrient levels are not being found in modern factory crops.

    One reason why the obese in America are suffering malnutrition.

  69. Vince Causey says:

    As has been pointed out (Pamela Gray) the area of land required to yield our cereal crops are enormous. Even if it was somehow possible to cover several square kilometres under a greenhouse, the presence of supporting structures would greatly encumber the free travel of combine harvesters.

    There is absolutely no need to jump through hoops – underground coal gas extraction with all the horrific risks of toxic pollution, piping coal gas to power plants, piping of co2 to greenhouses of unimaginable size – just to raise the co2 to levels where crop yields are improved. No, it is much simpler, much, much cheaper to simply burn the coal to generate electricity, and release the excellent gas to work its magic for the benefit of the whole biosphere.

  70. Vince Causey says:

    Gary Pearce,

    “Bulletin for Ira and you naysayers – Greenhouse growing (using CO2 and waste heat) is already a big deal – but outside of US. ”

    This is true, but only high value crops are grown in co2 enhanced greenhouses. A single tomatoe bush can yield several kg of tomatoes with a market value of £10. The amount yielded from a hectare must be enormous. But the staple crops have far lower economic yields and it is not economic to put them under greenhouses. I would go so far as to say that it would take most of the worlds economic resources to do so – most of the worlds resources used up just to grow the crops which can currenly be grown for a relative pittance! Another point is that even where co2 is pumped into greenhouses, this is no route that comes from underground coal gas generation, which is the crux of Ira’s proposal.

    I fully expect to see a continuation in the trend to pump co2 into greenhouses, but we are talking about an evolution rather than a revolution.

    You also say:
    “Pamela: Your farmers and ranchers at the Lostine tavern will laugh like goosed hyenas tonight but will be applying for grants to do this tomorrow.”

    And I say, yes, and that’s precisely why it is so worrying.

  71. Laure Bowen says:

    Grey Lensman says:
    January 7, 2011 at 10:09 am

    “The nurturing and feeding of soils and good farming practice ensures quality crops with real nutritional value.”

    True, so true . . . good soil is “alive” . . . . as opposed to almost dead desert sands.
    And I like your term “nurturing”. It indicates that you assume you can not “Control”.

    It’s like explaining the difference between “controlling” a tractor and “controlling” a horse.

  72. Roger Sowell says:

    From 2007, a concept to integrate power plants with greenhouses for waste heat and CO2 consumption. http://web.mit.edu/alamaro/www/GreenhouseConcept.pdf

    Not viable then, not viable now either. Pamela Gray has it right.

  73. Tim Folkerts says:

    Tom Mills says: January 7, 2011 at 3:05 am

    At the end of the day the CO2 produced by fossil fuels is just returning to the atmosphere that which they absorbed when they were plants.
    True — if when you say “day” you mean “tens of millions of years”. :-)

    pwl says: January 7, 2011 at 4:58 am
    CO2 is GREEN PLANT FOOD. More Co2 = More Green Food on Planet Earth = More Food for Humans and other animals. Anti-CO2 is Anti-Life!

    True — to the same extent that “SODIUM is BRAIN FOOD. Low Sodium = lethargy and confusion = low productivity and death from accidents and . Anti-SODIUM is Anti-Life!” But of course, we know that too much sodium leads to other problems, which are ALSO not healthy.

    Painting ANY chemical as either good or bad is oversimplifying and doesn’t really add much to the discussion.

  74. Tim Folkerts says:

    Gaia screwed up, all the co2 was getting locked up. She experimented with low carbon grasses but still the co2 declined. The planet was heading for extinction. Oh what to do. So she invented humans, gave them the brains to unlock the carbon And low and behold the planet began to green again.

    INTERESTING!

    But suppose the opposite is true …
    Gaia was incredibly wise. The sun was gradually warming up. Left unchecked, the world would become too hot to support life. The planet was headed for extinction. So she took massive amounts of CO2 out of the atmosphere by burying tons and tons of uneaten, undecayed plants deep in the ground. And lo and behold the planet began to cool and thrive again.
    And then along came man ….

    So hard to know what Gaia might have had in mind!

  75. curly says:

    If I’m not mistaken, growers of a certain plant of questionable (or at least variable) legal status, that is especially popularly grown in rural Northern California, purchase tanks of CO2 to feed their crop when it’s grown indoors.

    Perhaps we could save all this excess CO2 and provide it for them, to help them grow their crop and help sequester all this evil excess carbon, in a completly natural and organic way?

    This is all second-hand information of course. I have no personal knowledge of growing these crops.

    (/sarc off)

  76. Douglas says:

    Pamela Gray says:
    January 7, 2011 at 6:25 am
    Organic is better quality? –Those who think that organic is better are entirely without a clue as to how non-organic farming practices have resulted in drastic reductions in low quality produce on the shelf, including regional and local sourced produce, and in world hunger, rotten.–I tell you what, if you want to go back to spoiled rotten fruits and veggies, you had better crawl through your great-grandma’s recipe file for ways to use bruised, wormy, rotten produce. Why? Because that was what much of real organic produce looked like.
    ——————————————————————————-
    Pamela. How true and well said. I couldn’t believe the tripe that Gary Lensman was spouting earlier and was waiting for someone to speak a bit of sense.

    Douglas

  77. 1DandyTroll says:

    @Noelmc

    ‘Using CO2 to increase crop yields is being used commercially in the UK.’

    It has been done since people started to use green houses.

    You don’t have to inject CO2 into a green house to raise the CO2 concentration, it’s just so that it “autmagically” happens by itself due to magical properties of decomposing plant material, especially in combination with poorly controlled green house ventilation systems. This is why them flowers tend to flourish in the used and abused exercise room, if it is fairly sunlit to boot. :p

  78. Richard S Courtney says:

    Ira Glickstein:

    I am replying to your responses to criticisms of the possibility of commercial underground coal gasification that you have posted at January 7, 2011 at 8:55 am.

    Either your responses are wilfully ignorant or deliberately obtuse because I have twice explained to you on WUWT that your suggestion is technically impossible for reasons that have been demonstrated by many trials in many countries. The most recent of my explanations is above at January 7, 2011 at 1:39 am and I say there;

    “Controlled gasification is extremely difficult when conducting underground gasification. An excess of oxygen needs to be provided to ensure Stage 2 is sustained (otherwise the gasification stops) and this produces a gas that provides little heat when burned (i.e. the gas has low calorific value). Also, the interaction of the oxygen supply and the coal surface varies as the coal seam is gasified so the calorific value of the gas varies.”

    Thus, underground coal gasification provides a product gas with low and variable calorific value. Such a gas has little use.”

    The product gas is not suitable for use as fuel for power generation and, therefore, its best use is a fuel for direct heating. Natural gas is a cheaper fuel for such heating even if it has to be supplied as liquid natural gas (LNG). And natural gas provides less CO2 for each unit of heat (although I think that should not be thought a problem).

    So, the only real use for the product gas is as a source for the CO2 you want to supply to greenhouses. But that CO2 requires capital and operating costs to obtain. You could get a similar but cleaner supply of CO2 for free by tapping it from the flue of a coal-fired power station.

    Richard

  79. harrywr2 says:

    Gary Pearse says:
    January 7, 2011 at 9:18 am

    “Many pooh pooh the idea and there is always room for pooh poohing when a presenter uses broad brush strokes. Bulletin for Ira and you naysayers – Greenhouse growing (using CO2 and waste heat) is already a big deal – but outside of US.”

    Outside the US isn’t inside the US.
    Please name a single location outside the US where coal can be mined profitably for $12/ton.

    By Ira’s own admittance the plan requires deep coal mines.
    That is not the majority of US coal mines. 60% of US coal mines are surface mines.

    On capital costs alone, Coal with carbon capture isn’t any cheaper then nuclear.

    Coal with carbon capture might be something that one could sell in an area adamantly opposed to nuclear, I personally doubt it . The environmentalists will still see it as ‘dirty coal’ and others will look at the price tag and say ‘why not just build a nuclear plant’.

    The Chinese might have have a use for it as they have a lot of deep mines.

  80. Lady Life Grows says:

    I have been harping on the theme that CO2 is not only plant food, it is also useful in stimulating animal respiration and is probably behind the 20th century increase in human longevity.

    CO2 at double or triple ambient is good for you (I think) but there is an exception to the CO2-is-good rule, and that is when you bottle the stuff or ferment too much of it (beer-making, for instance). Then it become possible to go over 40% CO2 and pass out or even die. There are whole companies that specialize in CO2 mitigation (google it if you like). Bottling the CO2 to transport it to the greenhouse is better than burying all that plant food, but not as safe as just releasing it to the atmosphere.

  81. ferd berple says:
    January 7, 2011 at 9:37 am
    It would be interesting to see a study that determines the optimum level of CO2 for plant production. If plant production continues to increase as CO2 increases, without limit this would suggest their is no evolutionary connection. If however there is an optimum this would suggest it is evolutionary.

    According to the “2. Elevated CO2 greenhouse” link in my original posting above, there is an optimum CO2 level for many food crops, and it is between 1000 and 1400 ppm. So, Ferd Berple, you are correct. The fact that there is an optimum, and it is way higher than historical (~280 ppm) and way higher than current, supposedly dangerously high, levels (~390 ppm), proves that it is evolutionary. In other words, we know that plants evolved and adapted during times when CO2 was 1000 to 1400 ppm, or more! Great point! Thanks Ferd.

  82. Roger Sowell says:
    January 7, 2011 at 10:50 am
    From 2007, a concept to integrate power plants with greenhouses for waste heat and CO2 consumption. A href=”http://web.mit.edu/alamaro/www/GreenhouseConcept.pdf”>http://web.mit.edu/alamaro/www/GreenhouseConcept.pdf

    THANKS for the link. Wow, looks like the guys at MIT “stole” my brilliant idea – even before I had it :^) – so I take my hat off to them and recommend WUWT readers click the link. They show a neat artist’s rendering of a greenhouse farm adjacent to a power plant utilizing both the warmth and the CO2 content of the products of combustion that would otherwise be wasted by spewing into the atmosphere and water.

    My idea would not utilize a fixed greenhouse complex, but rather trailer truck-sized hydroponic containers with plastic caps that would be loaded with plantlets in a factory-type building and then transported outside and hooked up to fixed plumbing to provide conditioned, metered, recycled CO2/air and water/fertilizer. When crops were mature, the containers would be transported to the factory-type building and the crops harvested, then the containers would be reloaded and so on, with assembly-line efficiency. With no direct exposure to the weather and sometimes dirty atmosphere, these crops would be cleaner, and they would be more uniform, with higher yields and quality.

    Not viable then, not viable now either. Pamela Gray has it right.

    Some wise person said “the opera is not over until the fat lady sings”. The MIT paper you linked to was written in 2007 and it is now 2011. At the rate large-scale industrial technology moves, we are still in the overture. It will be decades before “the fat lady sings”. Be patient.

  83. Bob Diaz says:

    [quote]Basic Information about Concentrations of CO2 in Air
    * 1,000,000 ppm of a gas = 100 % concentration of the gas, and 10,000 ppm of a gas in air = a 1% concentration.
    * At 1% concentration of carbon dioxide CO2 (10,000 parts per million or ppm) and under continuous exposure at that level, such as in an auditorium filled with occupants and poor fresh air ventilation, some occupants are likely to feel drowsy.
    * The concentration of carbon dioxide must be over about 2% (20,000 ppm) before most people are aware of its presence unless the odor of an associated material (auto exhaust or fermenting yeast, for instance) is present at lower concentrations.
    * Above 2%, carbon dioxide may cause a feeling of heaviness in the chest and/or more frequent and deeper respirations.
    * If exposure continues at that level for several hours, minimal “acidosis” (an acid condition of the blood) may occur but more frequently is absent.
    * Breathing rate doubles at 3% CO2 and is four times the normal rate at 5% CO2.
    * Toxic levels of carbon dioxide: at levels above 5%, concentration CO2 is directly toxic. (At lower levels we may be seeing effects of a reduction in the relative amount of oxygen rather than direct toxicity of CO2.)[/quote]
    http://www.inspectapedia.com/hazmat/CO2gashaz.htm

    If 1% (10,000 PPM) presents a possible problem, the current CO2 of around 390 PPM is a long way off from bad. This would require a 25 fold increase in CO2 to be near 1%.

    However, with the increased CO2, the plants would grow more and remove more CO2 from our air.

  84. Richard S Courtney says:
    January 7, 2011 at 2:09 pm
    Ira Glickstein:

    I am replying to your responses to criticisms of the possibility of commercial underground coal gasification that you have posted at January 7, 2011 at 8:55 am.

    Either your responses are wilfully ignorant or deliberately obtuse because I have twice explained to you on WUWT that your suggestion is technically impossible for reasons that have been demonstrated by many trials in many countries. The most recent of my explanations is above at January 7, 2011 at 1:39 am and I say there;

    “Controlled gasification is extremely difficult when conducting underground gasification. …

    “… underground coal gasification provides a product gas with low and variable calorific value. Such a gas has little use. …”

    Sorry, Richard that I have not replied more directly. I did answer indirectly, saying: [emphasis added]

    January 7, 2011 at 8:55 am
    Thanks to ALL who have left comments in this thread so far. The positive ones are great -THANKS- but I know I have a lot to learn in this area and I learn the most from those who raise well-informed and well-considered objections to the underground coal gasification and/or elevated CO2 farming schemes. Please continue this thread.

    Underground coal gasification. Several commenters have raised valid questions about the economics, government permitting, the difficulty of remotely controlling the incomplete combustion process, subsidence of the covering land, the possibility of polluting ground water, and the danger of coal seam fires that cannot be extinguished. None of these are trivial issues. …

    I do not claim anywhere that underground gasification is the answer, but neither will I dismiss out-of-hand (as you seem to) a technique that some experts in the field say holds promise.

    Are they wrong, or worse, corrupt? Well, perhaps it is all a conspiracy and they really know the products of underground gasification are, as you conclude, of “little use”, and they are just after research grants. Possibly. But where is the proof, or even any evidence?

    I do not believe, on the basis of failed experiments decades ago that the science is settled. Yes, remotely controlling an incomplete combustion process in a very deep mine is a difficult problem, but that is what computer-based automation and remote sensors and actuators are for. (That happens to be my field and I have seen and been personally involved in solving tough automation tasks for military aircraft, sometimes after experienced pilots said it was impossible.)

    I’ll readily admit to being “ignorant” and “obtuse” at times, but not willfully so. In any case, you may turn out to be correct, and my elevated CO2 farming scheme may be limited to CO2 and waste heat from conventional coal-fired power plants. Or both of my ideas may turn out to be worthless. We will not know for sure for decades, if ever.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge of this technology area which is clearly greater than mine.

  85. phlogiston says:

    Tim Folkerts says:
    January 7, 2011 at 12:01 pm
    Gaia screwed up, all the co2 was getting locked up. She experimented with low carbon grasses but still the co2 declined. The planet was heading for extinction. Oh what to do. So she invented humans, gave them the brains to unlock the carbon And low and behold the planet began to green again.

    INTERESTING!

    But suppose the opposite is true …
    Gaia was incredibly wise. The sun was gradually warming up. Left unchecked, the world would become too hot to support life. The planet was headed for extinction. So she took massive amounts of CO2 out of the atmosphere by burying tons and tons of uneaten, undecayed plants deep in the ground. And lo and behold the planet began to cool and thrive again.
    And then along came man ….

    So hard to know what Gaia might have had in mind!

    The sun will not start expanding toward red giant for at least a couple of billion years, possibly more. Your Gaia picture is wrong.

    Have a read of this interesting (if slightly gloomy) paper posted here some months back by Leif Svalgaard, on the total history (past and future) of life on this planet:

    http://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/docs/00/29/75/42/PDF/bg-3-85-2006.pdf

    Causes and timing of future biosphere extinctions. S. Franck, C. Bounama, W. von Bloh, Biogeosciences 3: 85–92, 2006.

    Hve a look for instance at fig 6 and the conclusions. It is CO2 starvation – not solar heating – that lead to biosphere extinction.

  86. Mike says:

    Ira,
    I’m retired from the energy industry and spent the last decade of my career considering emergent technology applications for primary production of fossil fuels, energy and also CO2 emission reduction.

    Pamela and others with simiar comments are right regards the CO2/Bio loop you propose. I suggest you consider attempting a very high level mass and energy balance on your concept.

    There have been other studies, more recent than the MIT one quoted in this thread, unfortunately they are just not in the public domain. (Typically an academic study on topics like thise will be based on data that is about 10 years old or will be constrained in what it can publish regards information on commercially sensitive data that may have been supplied to them.

    I agree with you that the fat lady has not sung I doubt she ever will in my lifetime.

    I make that statement regards gasification technology. First. some of the information in this thread regards gasification is not current. The major existing technology providers will do their best to tell you to build an oxygen blown plant not an air blown plant. It is cheaper, more efficient and produces a more “usable” product. The reason for the cost advantage relates to the relative cost of modern air separation facilities for the production of oxygen versus the cost implied by the size of the balance of equipment plus the need for more gas separation steps due to Nitrogen. There is also an energy integration potential between an air separation plant and the gasifier itself. Google IGCC studies for more information.

    I believe the best potential for future application of gasification for fungible energy and chemical feedstocks is with the emergent technologies. Google the hydro-gasification approach by Great-Point Energy and, believe it or not the application of rocket science to an advanced gasification reactor by the Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne division.

    I’m personally strongly opposed to any geological sequestration, broadly stated it is an energy waste to solve a non-problem and robs future generations of fossil fuels. It’s application would shorten the life span of available fossil fuel reserves. How much depends on how and where it is applied. Retrofitted to an existing 10+ year old conventional rankin cycle power plant it would increase specifc energy input for a given output by as much as 40%. Capturing existing high purity sources such as those from an older steam methane hydrogen reformer that uses a wet chemistry CO2 scrubber on the backend would be more efficient, approximately a 10-15% energy hit. (Newer steam methane hydrogen reformers are not as suitable a candidate, they have a different approach using a membrane technology for product gas separation and do not produce a high purity CO2 waste stream). Needless to say the amount of CO2 produced from steam methane reformers is minute when compared to that from power generation. It is also better used for greenhouse atmosphere enrichment, and carbonation, this is already done.

    Google CO2 capture and sequestration.

    Mike

  87. Jeremy says:

    Pamela Gray it is so refreshing to see you bring a bit of practical experience and common sense to this discussion.

    Unfortunately, the same ‘blue sky” ridiculous ideas are used to justify wind farms and solar power.

    Those with experience already know that pigs can’t fly.

    If there was more common sense around then we would never have endured the CAGW scare at all.

  88. Tim Folkerts says:

    The sun will not start expanding toward red giant for at least a couple of billion years, possibly more. Your Gaia picture is wrong.

    The picture of Gaia might well be wrong, but my picture of the sun is not. Stars evolve even while on the main sequence. The sun has been gradually increasing in luminosity since it formed. That has amounted to an increase of around 20% change, or a change in insolation of around 200 W/m^2 over the last 4.5 Billion years. People get concerned over forcing changes of 1 or 2 W/m^2. Imaging a forcing change of 100-200 W/m^2!

    Somehow Gaia has INDEED compensated for the increasing energy, maintaining a habitable temperature for billions of years. And if you look at CO2, you will see that it has indeed been decreasing. I would not be at all surprised that life has engineered GHGs like CO2 to keep the earth in a zone where life is possible. (I would also not be surprised by other mechanism like changes in the water cycle playing a major role as well.

  89. astonerii says:

    How much land would need to be covered physically to keep the CO2 levels high enough for crops? What additional molecules will be needed to complete the equation? CO2 is plant food, and we all love the natural environment, so why would we want to keep all this CO2 only for ourselves, and not let it out into the environment where it can have other beneficial effects, such as increasing vegetation the world over, reducing desert land areas, and so forth.

    Coming up with expensive and complicated answers for non-problems seems to be a hobby for regressives. Is this author a regressive? I would wager that he is, at least on this topic. He advocates something for nothing from much, and as is typical, it is not his much that is going to be the source.

  90. astonerii says:

    For those wondering about toxicity from CO2 at PPM levels,
    “At 1% concentration of carbon dioxide CO2 (10,000 parts per million or ppm) and under continuous exposure at that level, such as in an auditorium filled with occupants and poor fresh air ventilation, some occupants are likely to feel drowsy.”

    Only some people are effected at 10,000 ppm, so 3,000 ppm would likely be a totally safe level for all but the most sensitive to CO2 people in the world.

  91. Grey Lensman says:

    Douglas

    You need to research Real Foods and Modern Organic farming practices. They are more efficient than big factory farms, more economic and much more resilient.

    You also need to research bio-engineering, where an industrial revolution in reverse is taking place. Indeed it is reverse engineering the industrial revolution. Indeed as Ira says, you need to keep an open mind and look at the potential.

    Looks to me like a lot of naysayers just push the corporate agenda, they find its not “economic” but do not use the full range of boundary limits.

    Rule one, is that if it works, it works, matters not what the experts say.

  92. JK says:

    As his blessed lordship Monckton would say, “sources?” I don’t see nary a one…

  93. Khwarizmi says:

    We can’t even pipe water to farms, so why do we think we can do it with CO2?
    http://www.ltrr.arizona.edu/~sleavitt/MaricopaFACE.htm

    When A Big Tree Grows in Brooklyn you can blame ozone pollution for dwarfing rural trees:
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/07/09/tech/main562379.shtml
    Not a single mention of carbon dioxide in the report, because it’s not good for plants.
    If CO2 did make plants grow faster—and it doesn’t—it would also make them grow more toxic, since CO2 is clearly toxic.

    There are no sarc tags in Australia because we don’t need them. Forgive me!

  94. Brian H says:

    The best way to recycle CO2 is to vent it.

    Stuart;
    I think it’s more like 30,000 ppm, or 3%. Even then, it’s not tissue-toxic; it interferes with proper respiration, though.

  95. Douglas says:

    Grey Lensman says: January 7, 2011 at 7:55 pm
    Looks to me like a lot of naysayers just push the corporate agenda, they find its not “economic” but do not use the full range of boundary limits.

    Rule one, is that if it works, it works, matters not what the experts say.
    ————————————————————————–
    Well Grey organically grown food accounts for about 1 percent of the world’s food production. Try feeding the other 99% of the world’s population on ‘organically’ grown food – and see how the economics pan out. You have a long way to go.

    For starters, in the U.S., organic products typically cost 10 to 40% more than similar conventionally produced products. According to the USDA, Americans, on average, spent $1,347 on groceries in 2004 thus switching entirely to organics would raise their cost of groceries by about $135 to $539 per year ($11 to $45 per month).

    Maybe it’s O.K. if you live in an affluent society and can afford it but most of us don’t live in an affluent society and can’t indulge ourselves in this way. Moreover, people are deluded into thinking that ‘organically’ grown food is more nutritious than conventionally grown food but this is not proven.

    Douglas

  96. Richard S Courtney says:

    Ira Glickstein:

    At January 7, 2011 at 4:23 pm you say to me:

    “I do not claim anywhere that underground gasification is the answer, but neither will I dismiss out-of-hand (as you seem to) a technique that some experts in the field say holds promise.

    Are they wrong, or worse, corrupt? Well, perhaps it is all a conspiracy and they really know the products of underground gasification are, as you conclude, of “little use”, and they are just after research grants. Possibly. But where is the proof, or even any evidence?”

    Say what!?
    Trials and developments at many places and in many countries conducted almost continuously for nearly a century are not “proof” or “evidence” that those who keep gulling governments to pay for yet more trials and developments are not doing it to get the research funds?

    The trials prove that underground gasification does not work, and nobody has suggested a method that would make it work.

    There is no suggested improvement to the problems of underground coal gasification at present; none, zilch, nada. And arm-waving about undefined robotics and computing does not change that.

    If you really believe what you write then I have another proposal for you. You see, I know this bridge that you may want to buy …

    Richard

  97. beng says:

    ******
    ferd berple says:
    January 7, 2011 at 9:33 am

    If plants grow faster with CO2 it means that they have evolved in an atmosphere that typically had more CO2 than at present. Otherwise, those species that grow better with less CO2 would have out-competed those species that require more CO2 and taken over the land.
    ******

    Grasses. I think they evolved ~5 myr ago, and developed a new, more efficient chlorophyll, C4, that can live w/less than 150 ppm CO2. Since then, they have indeed taken over large stretches of land previously inhabited by C3 chlorophyll trees & shrubs — they regrow from fire/predation much quicker in relatively dry climates. But they don’t dominate C3 plants in habitats w/more than adequate precipitation.
    C4 grasses do in fact benefit from more CO2, just not as much.

  98. Richard wrote: “If you really believe what you write then I have another proposal for you. You see, I know this bridge that you may want to buy …”

    As it happens, I am originally from Brooklyn, and the high school I went to, Brooklyn Tech, is in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge. I sold that bridge several times :^).

    Seriously though, Albert Einstein said: “If at first, an idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.” The really great (and really stupid) ideas always appear absurd when first floated. It usually takes a while to determine if they are breakthroughs or boners.

    Thanks for your opinions on my ideas. You may well be right. Time will tell.

  99. Steve Keohane says:

    I have a friend who designs greenhouses, and sent him a link to this article. He informed me of a project in nearby Rifle, Colorado which attempted this model and failed. Several acres of greenhouses are now being disassembled. It was at the Rifle Co-Generation Plant, using excess CO2 from coal gasification. I don’t know what failed, just heard of it moments ago.

  100. phlogiston says:

    Tim Folkerts says:
    January 7, 2011 at 7:00 pm
    The sun will not start expanding toward red giant for at least a couple of billion years, possibly more. Your Gaia picture is wrong.

    The picture of Gaia might well be wrong, but my picture of the sun is not. Stars evolve even while on the main sequence. The sun has been gradually increasing in luminosity since it formed. That has amounted to an increase of around 20% change, or a change in insolation of around 200 W/m^2 over the last 4.5 Billion years. People get concerned over forcing changes of 1 or 2 W/m^2. Imaging a forcing change of 100-200 W/m^2!

    Somehow Gaia has INDEED compensated for the increasing energy, maintaining a habitable temperature for billions of years. And if you look at CO2, you will see that it has indeed been decreasing. I would not be at all surprised that life has engineered GHGs like CO2 to keep the earth in a zone where life is possible. (I would also not be surprised by other mechanism like changes in the water cycle playing a major role as well.

    The following graphs of palaeo measurements of CO2 with global temperature:

    http://img801.imageshack.us/img801/289/logwarmingpaleoclimate.png
    http://img404.imageshack.us/i/tempandco2geologictime.png/

    The first shows that over all CO2 concentrations above about 300 ppm, there is no relationship, the regression is a horizontal line.

    The second shows that although CO2 has periodically dipped every 150 MYrs or so, there is no real trend down, we are in a dip now so its sort of cherry picking to claim a long term decrease.

    Comparing the temperature and CO2 curves, there is no evidence whatsoever for a causative link between CO2 and temperature.

    You state correctly that solar output has increased 20% over 4.5 billion years. However the data above concerns only the Phanerozoic, over the last 500 MYrs. over this period the solar increase has only been 2%.

    All this data together does not really add up to CO2 acting in a GAIA mode – metaphorically or otherwise.

    Note also – below 150 ppm, CO2 starvation of plants begins, CO2 deficiency starts to seriously limit plant growth. Zero CO2 means extinction of life on earth.

    The more I look at all this the more I feel good about our emission of CO2 and CO2 increases from 270 to 380 ppm and above.

  101. Tim Folkerts says:

    All this data together does not really add up to CO2 acting in a GAIA mode – metaphorically or otherwise.

    I will agree there. Neither my “fairy tale” nor Grey Lensman’s exactly opposite “fairy tale” has sufficient evidence to be anywhere conclusive. Both are fun to look at and both are philosophically interesting, but certainly we cannot attribute the real world temperatures to either. It is much better to look at things scientifically than to try to attribute changes to mythical beings.

  102. Larry Butler says:

    Sorry this arrived so late or I’d mail you one of my massive tomato monsters we grew in our little plastic CO2 tent this past summer, Anthony. CO2 came from yeast generators loaded with sugar and water in 2 liter coke bottles that kept getting more numerous as the two kids from up the street and I kept increasing our CO2 intensity to over 5000 ppm near the end of the growing season. I’m no scientist, but a metrologist, so we ate the “results” to prevent FoIA lawsuits as we were “privately funded” by my credit card.

    After the Gore lies the greenies at the local schools fed these confused kids, I decided to show them CO2 was not poison and started out with a plastic tent loaded with it double the atmosphere with us all inside not gasping for breath. Then, we started planting things inside and outside the tent to see if there was any difference increasing the CO2 to “breathtaking” levels that would kill an AGW priest.

    Well, I’d like to report your hypothesis was spot on to our intensive research with sharp knife and salt shaker. The veggies were delicious. We never did kill anything, including the damned bugs who got in the tent and seemed unphased by ANY level of CO2 I could so crudely produce. We made the mistake of spraying, ONCE, and while the bugs were all laughing and rolling around, we killed our yeast colonies and had to start over…..(sigh)

  103. Grey Lensman says:

    Larry

    I busted your scheme, see posts above”

    Douglas

    Quote

    Maybe it’s O.K. if you live in an affluent society and can afford it but most of us don’t live in an affluent society and can’t indulge ourselves in this way. Moreover, people are deluded into thinking that ‘organically’ grown food is more nutritious than conventionally grown food but this is not proven.

    Uquote

    Busted, you rush to judgement. I live in a very poor community, I see every day how poor peasants are deceived. Loads of studies show that modern factory produce do not contain the text book nutrient level. There is a huge difference between profit and efficiency.

    Prior to 1910, only about 0.5% of people had cars. your comment means nothing. There are many people, in the real world, doing great work rather than publish papers.

    Example several Indonesian studies, peer reviewed and published show that poor subsistence farmers can increase their yield of coconuts by using fertiliser. However, this results in a loss to the farmer because the fertiliser costs more than the cash from the increased yield. So they ran an alternative study and found that using organic fertiliser, I.E. old palm fronds, the farmers got better yilds and made more money.

    Thus it seems the guy who spent the little money he had on fertiliser lost out but the people selling and making the fertiliser made a killing.

    Sad thing is nobody told the farmers, the reports molder in Libraries and the Researchers have got their PHDS and jobs with big food.

    Nutrient content of modern foods, find out for yourself, I am not here as a crutch for you.

  104. Grey Lensman says:

    Douglas also said

    Quote

    For starters, in the U.S., organic products typically cost 10 to 40% more than similar conventionally produced products.

    Unquote

    Thats a classic scam. What they cost in the shops has nothing to do with what they really cost to produce. We all want to make money, sad but true. Refer bankers and their bonuses.

    I suggest that you read Iras quote from Einstein above.

  105. Steve Keohane says:

    Here is a report regarding the Rifle, CO plant, written before it closed. I haven’t read this yet, but am told some positive things are said on pp. 12-14.
    http://www.rifleco.org/documents/Planning/Long%20Range/Rifle%20Opportunity%20Analysis.pdf

  106. phlogiston says:

    Tim Folkerts says:
    January 8, 2011 at 2:46 pm
    All this data together does not really add up to CO2 acting in a GAIA mode – metaphorically or otherwise.

    I will agree there. Neither my “fairy tale” nor Grey Lensman’s exactly opposite “fairy tale” has sufficient evidence to be anywhere conclusive. Both are fun to look at and both are philosophically interesting, but certainly we cannot attribute the real world temperatures to either. It is much better to look at things scientifically than to try to attribute changes to mythical beings.

    I’m happy to agree to that. It may however be unfair to dismiss the term “Gaia” unreservedly – it has a range of meanings. Lovelock’s original theory was a serious one and I believe it has some merit – the biosphere can modify the environment in its own favour – just look at the role of prokaryotes in oxygenating our atmosphere 1-3 billion years back. As a complex chaotic system it is plausible that the biosphere could exert global regulatory feedbacks beneficial to itself (refer to the Constructal law of Bejam/Essenbach). However “Gaia” to some retains its original meaning as a purely pagan deity, a sort of Earth mother. It can also be used by environmentalists just as an emotive term for the earth or biosphere.

  107. Brian H says:

    Larry;
    Excellent tomato-roots level research!

    But I bet the bugs were unfazed, not unphased. ;)

  108. Brian H says:

    Larry;
    P.S. If those were crawling bugs, you could use Diatomaceous Earth, readily available at most garden centers. It’s just fine-ground diatom shells, microscopic sharp shards. They slice-n-dice the buggers’ exoskeletons, with mortal results. Non-toxic and harmless to the rest of us.
    Works great for bedbugs, too!
    But avoid getting on blooms that bees visit; it’ll take them out as well.

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