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All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

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The Underground Solution To Climate Change

Posted on 22 May 2020 by Guest Author

Geothermal is the renewable source of heating, cooling, and power that no one is talking about.

Learn more about The Geothermal Exchange Organization and their Geothermal For All Campaign here:

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  1. Very pertinent - I'm a retired district heating consultant who sometimes worries how we'll get fossil fuels out of building heating - it won't be easy because right now gas is so cheap, about the equivalent of 1 cent/kilowatt hour - the other problem is that building heating is a very peaky load.  It will take massive deep energy retrofits to reduce heat energy consumption (and peak demand, the second problem) which will be costly, labour intensive and time consuming (but nevertheless we have to do it eventually so we'd better get started, or more accurately ramp up what's already been done).  COVID 19 recovery stimulus is another reason to ramp up these efforts through more and easier loans, e.g. on the building rate assessments.  This is also one of the few areas where I would support Pigouvian subsidies.  Deep refrofits could include geo-exhange with heat pumps.  Very dense areas, with lots of apartments, condos and large commercial/institutional buildings, could be converted to district heating sourced from central geoexhange.  All new buildings should be mandated to be zero-emissions.  The builders can figure out how best to do that.  Of course, as the video mentioned, heat pumps consume some electricity, though delivering heat way more efficiently than straight electric heating (because most of the heat comes from the ground - even air source heat pumps are not too bad in moderate climes). Similar to electrifying transportation, we ideally want a 100% clean grid, although they are still beneficial even with some fossil still on the grid, so there is no excuse not to go for this option as aggressively as possible. 

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  2. Further to my previous comments, predictably and steeply rising prices on carbon will help; revenue neutral so the dividends to be received by everyone mollifies them against freaking out about how high the carbon price will go; this is exemplified in the Energy Innovation and Carbon Divided act currently before the US Congress and by the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act already in force in Canada, except Canada needs to commit to continue increasing the price beyond 2022, to a steeper rate of increase and to make it more obvious that people are actually getting back the dividends (anecdotal evidence suggests, incredibly, a lot of people still don't believe it - they just didn't notice the slightly higher refund they got from the tax return - a direct deposit dividend into their bank accounts would be more noticeable); the dividends can trigger the start-up of Universal Basic Income, which will partly address inequality; the dividends would be reasonably predictable and continue rising for about 15 years (my rough spreadsheet projection) even while emissions decline because of the increasing price.  Another way it addresses inequality is the fact that corporations also pay the carbon charge, but only individuals get the dividends.  The UBI could help especially owners of single family homes view their energy retrofit loan repayment obligations with more equanimity. 

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  3. John S @2:

    I used to think UBI was an answer to many things, but IMHO it's actually not viable in the real world outside of the trials going on in various places.

    It has to be expensive from the exchequer point of view, and when the costs are transmitted down the line to the street it makes offshore manufacturing even less expensive unless every country has similar policies - which ain't going to happen.

    It might just work in large countries/economies like the US or EU, which possibly are large enough to essentially close borders and become island economies - but just look at the shambles the Euro has spawned: I can just see the Germans swallowing it!

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