The Three Rs

What action? The “Three R’s” which follow could serve as an initial guide for the concerned citizen in her/his search for a foothold in these perplexing challenges.

Restraint in all energy use, whatever the source and whatever the application: heating, electricity, process heat and industry, transport, agriculture, and so on. Such restraint already has its champions and its practitioners all over the world, including the Association for the Conservation of Energy in the UK, the Union of Concerned Scientists in the USA, many local authorities encompassing small towns and big cities – often in linked endeavours, and larger and smaller NGO’s, including Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the recently established 10:10 movement. Tellingly, some of the most active groups are to be found in countries such as Australia and Canada, which produce, use and export very great quantities of fossil carbon.

Re-fuelling humankind, substituting renewableelectricity and concomitant hydrogen for fossil carbon and uranium. The “Electrohydrogen Economy” is a concept which is gaining ground among energy engineers, who assert the practicality and environmental superiority of the abstraction of electrical energy from ambient energy flows (essentially sun and wind), its direct grid-use wherever possible, and its storage in the form of electrolysed hydrogen, fulfilling the functions presently undertaken by coal, oil and gas. The Australian team of Honnery and Moriarty (Monash University) is one active advocate of this concept, as is the US team of Delucchi and Jacobson (California at Davis/ Stanford, California). Active centres of hydrogen research also exist in Europe, including the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Scandinavia (where the world’s first successful wind/hydrogen project was established by Poul la Cour, in Denmark – in 1895).

Retrieval of excess greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, from the atmosphere, on a timescale which answers the environmental need for a rapid reduction in greenhouse gas concentration. Such retrieval is also climbing the environmental agenda, and it puts a critical spotlight on the present fashion for agrifuels – if agricultural land is to be spared for mitigating climate change, it is surely wiser to “grow carbon” and to keep it out of the atmosphere (as soil improver and timber), than to turn atmospheric carbon into biomass, thence into fuel, returning the same carbon, upon combustion, to the carbon-stressed atmosphere from which it was abstracted.

A second retrieval method, the building and operation of wide-throated chemical suction machines which trap carbon dioxide from the free air, for subsequent (and very difficult) sequestration, is the subject of prolonged – and controversial – study under Klaus Lackner (Columbia University, USA), and under David Keith (Calgary University, Canada).

Planet Hydrogen emphasises the contribution which the second of these three Rs could contribute: Hydrogen. We have taken a liking to the beautiful term adopted from the Spanish: “convivencia” – convivience, humans living together in harmony with each other and with the earth. We advocate and work for the adoption of hydrogen as humanity’s fuel of choice, believing that such harmony can only be achieved when fossil fuels are abandonned in their entirety, and replaced by hydrogen.

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