Thursday October 18, 2018

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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Climate Change Not A Hoax: Trump

President Trump signed a declaration Sunday saying the federal government will, for now, pay for 100 percent of the cleanup in Florida

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Climate Change
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump is backing off his claim that climate change is a hoax.

In an interview broadcast Sunday, Trump told CBS-TV’s 60 Minutes “I think something’s happening. Something’s changing and it’ll change back again…I’m not denying climate change, but it could very well go back. You know, we’re talking about over millions of years.”

Trump has over the years called global warming a hoax and had once called it a Chinese plot aimed at wrecking the U.S. economy.

climate change
People clean up their house that was destro. yed by Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach. VOA

Trump told 60 Minutes he does not know if global waning is manmade, despite the scientific research showing that pollution and human activity is the major contributor. He said he does not want to give “trillions and trillions of dollars” and lose “millions and millions of jobs” to prevent it.

Most scientists link a warming planet with storms that are more intense. Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle last week as the strongest storm to strike the continental United States in nearly 50 years.

Trump said there have been hurricanes that were “far worse” than Michael and said scientists calling for action on climate change have a “very big political agenda.”

Meanwhile, the town of Mexico Beach, Florida was just about wiped off the face of the earth by Hurricane Michael.

“Mexico Beach is devastated,” Florida Governor Rick Scott says. “It’s like a war zone.”

Climate Change
Scenes of devastation in Mexico Beach, Florida in the aftermath for Hurricane Michael. VOA

Michael’s 250 kilometer per hour winds left only a handful of buildings standing. Concrete slabs are left where houses and stores thrived. Only a few trees are left. The main U.S. highway that goes through the town is not drivable.

Mexico Beach police chief Anthony Kelly told VOA’s Spanish Service, “When you come here and see the devastation, it’s hard, it’s emotionally hard.”

“We know each person in the majority of the houses. They know us,” Kelly said. “All these people are close to us. And now we’re going around the neighborhoods making sure that they’re not in any of these houses that are so extremely damaged.”

“Looking in the debris, seeing photos of grandkids, people that we know that have come back here year after year, that’s the emotional side,” he said. “I’ve got officers that this is their first catastrophic event, and it’s hard to explain to them, you know, it’s going to get better, because they’re seeing reality.”

The town’s medical manager, Patricia Cantwell, said, “It’s extremely sad that the devastation has been so rampant throughout the Panhandle” of the state.

“Having lived through Hurricane Andrew in south Florida (in 1992), it’s going to take a while,” she told VOA. “It’s one day at a time. It looks overwhelming to start, but, you know, one day at a time. It’s going to take years to get things back up and running.”

Climate Change
Scenes of devastation in Mexico Beach, Florida in the aftermath for Hurricane Michael.. VOA

Brock Long, the head Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the death toll in Mexico Beach could rise, as rescue workers continue to search the rubble left behind by the storm. It could take another 10 days to compile a damage estimate.

Some physical structures in the town were lifted off their moorings and moved hundreds of meters away by the winds and storm surge from the storm. Other buildings were left in masses of debris, demolished beyond recognition.

Also Read: US First Lady Melania Trump Starts The Final Leg of Her Africa Trip

President Trump signed a declaration Sunday saying the federal government will, for now, pay for 100 percent of the cleanup in Florida, temporarily easing the financial burden from the state. (VOA)