• Frank H Shu

Articles written in Resonance – Journal of Science Education

• Stopping and Reversing Climate Change: Part I

This article discusses quantitatively how to stop and reverseclimate change. To stop climate change, we must transitionfrom burning fossil fuels to using clean energy resources thatdo not involve the emission of CO$_{2}$. We discuss the advantagesand disadvantages of renewable energy sources, suchas wind, water, and solar, relative to nuclear fission and thecontinued burning of fossil fuels, coupled to CO$_{2}$ capture andsequestration of the flue gas. A plot of the energy per unitmass, $\epsilon$, against the energy per unit volume, e, shows manyorders of magnitude difference between changes in the mechanicalstate of ordinary matter versus chemical reactionsversus nuclear transformations. These differences raise anapparent paradox concerning how the price of electricity canbe roughly competitive for the commercial technologies basedon the very different fuel types. Explicit and implicit subsidiesfor politically favored fuels give a partial explanation, but theturbines that turn flowing fluids into flowing electricity accountfor most of the result.Reversing climate change requires the world to extract CO$_{2}$from the atmosphere. Through the processes of growth andreproduction, evolution has endowed vegetation with theability to convert carbon dioxide pulled from the atmospherewith water drawn from the soil into liquid and solid organiccompounds. In this first part of the article, we recommendthe carbonisation of the global annual waste from farms andranches into an inert soil enhancer called biochar. We show thatburying biochar back into the soil of farms and ranches ofthe world suffices to lower the CO$_{2}$ concentration in the atmosphereto a safe level by 2100 if some combination of renewables, nuclear power, and fossil fuel usage with carbon capturesion of CO$_{2}$ from total global energy consumption in 2050.In the second part of the article, we will discuss how molten saltbreeder reactors can overcome the four usual objectionsraised by anti-nuclear groups to oppose nuclear fission: (1)sustainability of the fuel cycle, (2) superiority of the economics,(3) security against weapons proliferation, and (4) safetyagainst accidental release of massive amounts of radioactivityinto the environment.

• Stopping and Reversing Climate Change: Part II