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Carbon emissions dramatically alter the Earth’s ability to heal itself. Generations of scientists and activists warned of the consequences if the world’s population did not reduce planet-warming emissions, primarily carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and ozone released when fossil fuels (coal, gas, and oil) are used for electricity, heat, and transportation. Moreover, climate change is responsible for weather extremes which are on the rise and, if not addressed, will grow more dangerous. Meteorologists confirm atmospheric extremes will continue to increase in frequency and intensity.
Record heatwaves, like Europe’s recent deadly heat, have become typical globally. Other side effects of the climate crisis include drought, wildfires, floods, melting glaciers, rising oceans, and crop failure. While agriculturists genetically modify plants to make them “drought tolerant,” at some point, science will not be able to bandage the problem. Moreover, experts agree that fighting wildfires will become more frequent and brutal.
Still, in 2019, most Americans polled thought the government was not doing enough to protect the climate. Instead, individuals and businesses should take responsibility for protecting the Earth and plan to reduce their carbon footprint. Today “is a unique opportunity to focus on the real cost of the consequences of carbon,” explained Lionel Kambeitz, Executive Chairman of Delta CleanTech.
Kambeitz acknowledges the vast achievement behind the mobilization of energy: “It’s been the miracle that has lifted us to greater heights. So, we should all deeply respect what energy has done.”
The problem is we just forgot the price we have to pay for the luxury along the way.” He further explained: “It’s a simple concept. If you keep drinking Coke and throw the cans into the basement, eventually it will get full.”
The “getting full” concept, Kambeitz referred to, has to do with greenhouse gasses; carbon, methane, and ozone. Contrary to popular belief, these gasses are necessary to block the sun’s radiation; otherwise, the radiation would freeze the Earth’s surface, making it inhabitable. The gasses create a natural barrier referred to as the greenhouse effect.
When excess amounts of carbon dioxide, methane, and ozone get trapped, serious consequences begin to appear: Polar caps start to melt, resulting in rising sea levels. In turn, the greenhouse effect speeds up when polar and sea ice melts.
“Over the last 10 years, I’ve watched the effects of climate change. I track the weather, and it is profoundly concerning to those who really watch because things are changing profoundly. They are changing for the worse,” Kambeitz added.
There is a deceptive element of climate change and weather, he explained. “People always want to point it out. For example, they say there was as much rain this year as in previous years. That may truly be the case, but instead of rainy days, we get it in one or two storms. Because of climate change, the radical nature of weather is pushing us to extremes.
The average low temperatures are getting lower, and the highs are higher. It affects food production. Eventually, genetics won’t be able to keep up with climate change. Even before the Ukraine war started, we were headed for a two to three-year global food shortage. It isn’t about the war. We were already heading there — it’s weather related.”
Moving Toward ‘Net Zero’ Carbon Emissions Reduction
Decarbonization is the reduction of CO2 emissions through the use of low-carbon power sources. During the UN Climate Summit (COP26), 136 countries vowed to reach net zero emissions (the difference between greenhouse gasses produced counterbalanced by an equal amount of reduction) to keep Earth from warming more than 1.5 degrees Celsius beyond pre-industrialized levels around 1750 — the planet is already about 1 degree C warmer.
To do this, carbon emissions must drop to 45% from 2010 by 2030 and reach a net zero level by 2050. While there are several ways to achieve the goal, the main components are reducing fossil fuel usage and using carbon capture technology.
Some of the largest power plants and manufacturers in the world use carbon capture technology, according to Kambeitz. His company, Delta CleanTech, has installed or is installing its carbon dioxide capture and utilization units in the United States, Canada, Italy, the U.K., Australia, China, and Norway.
These units can reduce all emissions produced by manufacturers and power plants. Delta’s system uses a solvent to absorb the flue gasses — carbon dioxide, pure hydrogen, nitrogen, and water — that, once heated, becomes purified and concentrated for use in industrial plants.
Chemical waste from the purification/concentration process is isolated in a reclamation container that compresses the carbon dioxide to ready it for disposal, explained Kambeitz. Ideally, instead of incinerating carbon waste, it could be used. “We have to start building nanotubes. We have to put [compressed carbon] into concrete. It’s just a molecule that needs to be used. Utilization is important,” he added.
Developing effective and safe usage of carbon dioxide waste will take the science and technology industry leaders’ brains. Kambeitz explored this idea further: “What if tomorrow morning there was a very important something made of wood that could be made using CO2 cost-effectively and suddenly carbon dioxide became a building material? Well, that’s great progress. So, we have to watch and wait for carbon to be used as a valuable product, not just waste,” Kambeitz said as he talked about his dream for carbon dioxide’s future.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
Interview: Lionel Kambeitz; July 22, 2022
Delta CleanTech: Products CO2 Capture & Utilization
EPA: Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions
CNN: Dangerous, extended heat wave threatens millions in Western Europe as highest level of heat alerts are issued; by Payton Major
The New York Times: Heat Waves Around the World Push People and Nations ‘to the Edge,” by Raymond Zhong
Pew Research Center: U.S. Public Views on Climate and Energy; by Cary Funk and Meg Hefferon
Featured and Top Image by Mike Newbry Courtesy of Unsplash – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Tim J Keegan’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Graphic Courtesy of Lionel Kambeitz for Delta CleanTech – Used With Permission