How to measure Sustainability

As already earlier explored in dignifying Nature‘s binary logic Nature manages chemical Energy by compounds of varying atomic ratios between Carbon – Hydrogen – Oxygen within the Ternary Triangle. Whereas the latter two atoms naturally coincide within biosphere in the atomic ratio of water molecules. Therefore any natural or synthetic energy carrier can be constituted from Carbon and Water, whereas Carbon is Nature‘s most prominent and safest long term primary-energy storing atom. The abundance of solar energy and biological photosynthesis’ efficiency gives Nature the privilege to recover Carbon from CO₂ under use of water to store the excess solar energy in carbohydrate compounds, feeding habitats for their individual energy supply. Of course limited to the extent of our planet‘s terrestrial and maritime vegetation.

Temptations may be high for anthropogenic extension of the biosphere‘s capacity with technologies in the interest of linear fossil energy supply stakeholders. They of course know well enough that any attempts to do so will cost so much, that they won‘t need to worry about staying competitive. So called „Electro-Fuel“ requires 2.7 times the yielded energy to transform CO₂ for its use. If the world wanted to substitute today‘s 104mln barrel crude oil exploitation per day an additional 130PWh renewable electricity per year would be needed in addition to today‘s 25PWh total utility supply.

Catalytically recovering physical Carbon from terrestrial carbonaceous residues not useful for agricultural compost on the other hand would be 75% energy efficient without needing auxiliary energy and can deliver synthetic fuel at an overall efficiency of 60%. Therefore it can compete against fossil fuels above U$50 per barrel crude oil. Re-using 75% of Terrestrial Carbon instead of disposing it into atmosphere as if it was a one-way package of energy into CO₂ is therefore not just more Carbon- but much more Energy – Efficient.

Looking at the second Climate relevant Cycle of Nature the orders of magnitude might be even more impressing! Electro-fuel got its name from electrolysis of 4 H₂O molecules into 4 Hydrogen molecules to turn one molecule CO₂ into one CH₄ plus 2 molecules of chemically pure water. Half of it can be used to steam reform the CH₄ into theoretically CO + 3H₂ for fuel synthesis. So net water consumption for exemplarily replacing 104mln barrel oil exploitation per day would go to 14.64bln m³ per year. This equals the sustainably available amount of irrigation water demand per capita dietary need! It would add another 50% to worldwide 120% consumption of sustainably available water. So in search of solutions we should always look at the effects on both of our planet‘s  vital cycles: The Carbon Cycle and the Water Cycle. The example above may be perceived exaggerating as most people would tend towards just partially using electro-fuel as a solution. But this elaboration should show that for judging sustainability we always must take a holistic eagle view on a globally applicable scale. Otherwise one could easily get distracted by local particularities. For example Austria, being a country with plenty of water from geographically hosting the Alps and so far healthy woods under sustainable forest management might tempt sometimes solutions that are not applicable elsewhere or eat up for example water resources that would be needed further south. Mistakes in that respect could ignite additional migration flows from areas becoming unlivable to those that are still considered livable.

Because desertification is actually a consequence of loss in vegetation that usually develops its biomass 70:30% above and underground. All of fauna‘s surface can catch atmospheric moisture from day and night time temperature hysteresis and contributes to the water cycle by a multiple evaporation per area than can come from water surfaces. Since evaporation cools, areas of vegetation don‘t heat up like sheeted, logged or infertile areas. Once vegetation has died land becomes hotter and exhales soil ligated Carbon having stored water and nutrients for vegetation before. And as long as hot air rises from the grounds passing-by clouds will just be taken into higher altitudes and not precipitate over the area anymore. Rain will just come down when clouds twinkle to lower altitudes of denser atmosphere above cooler areas. Hence wherever we cannibalize vegetation, we not only affect the Carbon Cycle but the Water Cycle as well. Unfortunately there is very little coverage on the nexus between these binary building blocks of Nature. Indications however are, that they follow a combinatory logic perhaps even as strictly as Siamese twins have to.

It has become very popular to look at primarily fossil CO₂ emissions. I don‘t think, Nature can distinguish the origin of carbon destroyed into CO₂. Fact however is that increased temperature level on the Globus drives Soil Carbon respiration increasing atmospheric CO₂ levels and deteriorating local terrestrial water cycles. Maybe this is why Climate Change is considered irreversible beyond a certain tipping point. It‘s a fact that top-soil ligated Carbon is still over 4 times terrestrial above ground biomass Carbon. Just 15% out-gazing would consume 100% 2°C Carbon Budget contingency. In the last decade Carbonate mining and land use change caused a loss of 2% causing 70% equivalent CO₂ emissions of fossil Carbon use. In the same time period underutilized terrestrial end of lifecycle Carbon accounted for 40% thereof (50% as Methane).

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