Wednesday April 24, 2019

Unique Indian geological feature to mitigate climate change

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Bengaluru: An exceptional geological feature will help India by providing a natural solution to the problem of climate change,  some geologists said.

Scientists have known for years that carbon dioxide (CO2) from the burning of fossil fuels has been warming the planet. The just-concluded meeting in Paris urged nations to cut their CO2 emissions to ensure that the global temperature does not rise more than 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level while aiming for a 1.5-degree limit.

But some experts, like law professor Dan Farber of the University of California-Berkeley, doubt whether even the 2-degree goal can be achieved purely through emission cuts, suggesting other avenues must be explored.

India has indeed an additional option, some geologists believe. This consists of capturing the CO2 coming out of coal-fired power plants and injecting it below the Deccan Traps for permanent storage.

Deccan Traps – a thick pile of solidified lava from volcanic eruptions 65 million years ago – occupies about a third of peninsular India and is the world’s largest continental flood-basalt province outside Siberia. The trap cover varies in thickness from a few hundred to a few thousand metres and, below this, lie thick sedimentary rocks. The idea is to pump the CO2 through the porous sedimentary rocks and use the basalt layer above as a “cap” to stop the gas escaping.

“The Deccan volcanic province in India is promising and provides enough material for CO2 sequestration,” Delhi University geologist JP Shrivastava, told this.

He says his laboratory studies have confirmed that CO2 reacts with calcium, magnesium and iron-rich silicates in the lava, turning them into stable carbonate minerals such as calcite, dolomite, magnesite and siderite. Ramakrishna Sonde, formerly executive director of the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) had estimated that Deccan Traps might be able to hold 300,000 million tonnes of CO2 – as much as humans produce in 20 years.

Realizing the potential of Deccan Traps as a long-term CO2 storage option, Indian government agencies, jointly with American scientists, proposed in 2007 a field study to investigate the feasibility of this. The motivation for the project came from research at the Battelle Pacific North-West National Laboratory (PNNL) in Washington State. The US Pacific Northwest has basalt deposits similar to the Deccan Traps with an estimated holding capacity of more than 50,000 million tonnes of CO2.

The Indian study, proposed by NTPC, was to be carried out in partnership with Hyderabad’s National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) and PNNL. It was one of the 17 initiatives endorsed by the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF), a 23-member voluntary climate initiative of which India was a founding member. But, according to CSLF, the Indian study has remained “inactive”.

“Interest on the Indian side waned after it became clear in 2009 that no binding international emissions agreements were going to happen anytime soon,” Peter McGrail of PNNL told this correspondent in an e-mail. “I am not sure if the Paris agreement will change anything – too soon to tell,” he added. Officials at NTPC did not reply to a query on why the study failed to take off.

While the Indian study got stuck, McGrail said, “there has been some real progress” on small trials of CO2 injection into basalts in Iceland and another in Washington State. “We just finished closing our CO2 injection well here this August after 1,000 tonnes of CO2 was injected in 2013,” he said.

Shrivastava is disappointed that the government is giving “very little attention” to the vast Deccan basalt with huge potential for CO2 storage. “Our experiments suggest Deccan Traps stands better chances (of storing CO2) compared to the Columbia river continental basalt in the US and a basaltic glass of Iceland,” he said.

Not only the Deccan Traps but other basaltic rocks such as Rajmahal Traps, Sylhet Traps, Panjal Traps and many more have to be examined, he said, adding that India would benefit by reviving the stalled study in Deccan Traps.

Former NGRI director VP Dimri agreed.

“There is enough scope for further research in this direction,” Dimri told this correspondent.

“In addition, to Deccan Traps basalts, the underlying sediments and older volcanic (Gujarat and western Indian offshore) can also be studied for geological sequestration of CO2,” added Om Prakash Pandey, another NGRI scientist.

One possible way to revive the Deccan Traps study, said NGRI’s chief scientist G Parthasarathy, is to use the 1-km boreholes already drilled in Koyna for injecting CO2. The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) has, however, ruled this out. “The boreholes were drilled for investigating reservoir-triggered seismicity in the region,” MoES secretary MN Rajeevan said. “They are unsuitable for CO2 injection studies.”(IANS)

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Denis Hayes- Earth Day Founder Predicts 2020 will be Turning Point in Global Climate Change Movement

"I'm confident that the end is in sight. When conditions are right, people are ready to demand change, and America can turn on a dime," Hayes told reporters

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earth day, climate change
FILE - A man walks past a mural the day before Earth Day, in Philadelphia, April 21, 2017. VOA

Denis Hayes, the man credited with founding Earth Day, predicted 2020 will be a turning point in the global climate change movement.

“I’m confident that the end is in sight. When conditions are right, people are ready to demand change, and America can turn on a dime,” Hayes told reporters Monday during a news conference on Earth Day, which he helped established in 1970.

Hayes said people around the world are demanding change, especially the young, and that makes him optimistic.

earth day, google doodle
FILE – An environmental militant shows an orange, painted as a globe, during an event to mark the Earth Overshoot Day on Aug. 1, 2018 in Berlin. It marks the date when we (all of humanity) have used more from nature than our planet can renew in the entire year. VOA

“It recently happened in the United States on gay marriage. It more recently happened in New Zealand on gun control. It happened globally on the ozone hole,” Hayes said.

Tens of thousands of students around the world skipped school for one day last month to protest inaction on climate change. There were protests in South Africa, India, New Zealand and South Korea. In Europe, students packed streets in London, Lisbon, Vienna, Rome and Copenhagen, among other cities.

Mass climate change protests have been taking place in London for the past week. On Monday, police said they have arrested 1,065 people since Extinction Rebellion began, aimed at paralyzing parts of central London to emphasize the need for sharp reductions in carbon use.

earth day, climate change
FILE – Youths demonstrate with a banner reading “the greed for profit destroys our earth!” during the “Fridays For Future” movement on a global day of student protests aiming to spark world leaders into action on climate change, March 15, 2019 in Berlin. VOA

ALSO READ: Google Doodle Celebrates Earth Day with Series of Animations on Six Unique Inhabitants on Earth

“Most social movements are powered by youth,” he told reporters.

Hayes said even though U.S. President Donald Trump has “taken a wrecking ball to international climate treaties, appointed the two worst EPA administrators in history, and pledged to resuscitate the dead coal industry, I’m confident that the end is in sight.” (VOA)