Tuesday, June 15, 2010

psychotic carbon cycle

Had this little sticky here, hangin' around, waiting for an appropriate trigger. Well, that trigger is turnin' out to be be the colossal BP bugger-up, what with oil 'n all.

'Cause the sticky was about somethin' struck me weird, finally. Well, not weird, so much as bafflingly stupid.

It took the earth's ecosystem hundreds of millions of years to sequester sufficient quantities of carbon from the atmosphere in order that oxygen breathing life forms could take hold and thrive. Those carbon sinks are usually buried, once imagined to be safely, thousands of feet beneath the surface of the planet. Other sinks are active surface carbon scrubbers, most significantly, oceans and flora. Oil deposits, coal, oil shale, tar sands, peat-lands, vast carbon sinks either buried or soon to be, created over eons and spanning the globe, lay testament to the efficiency of the earth's ecosystem, which itself has created the climate we enjoy.

We have exploited these dense carbon sinks. We have gouged the earth hither and yon, extracted the energy by oxidizing C-H bonds to basically moving shit around, and then we have released the carbon waste back into the atmosphere. Today, we have destroyed, or are in the process of destroying, some of these surface carbon sink scrubbers in order to extract the other, commercially viable, C-H bond lodes.

We humans plunge the depths of land and sea, and with the latest engineering marvels, then suck those sinks dry. We tear off the tops of mountains to sustain our thirst and hunger for all things electric, which is rapidly becoming more and more things. We fight and kill each other for these carbon sinks. Often, we will pretend that that is not what it is about.

And this is what it is all about:

CH4 + 2 O2 CO2 + 2 H2O + E

Well, this and its many hydrocarbon variations. And that big E on the end, well, that is really the whole and only point.

That's it. That's what all the posturing and fighting and drilling and war and paving and moving and mess is all about. Looks pretty simple, right?

Not to us. 'Cause we even fuck that up, and wind up doing shit like this,

CH4 + O2 → CO + H2 + H2O

and worse.

Of course, since we're lazy asses, cheap and greedy, we don't usually attain the pure combustion necessary for the "clean" burn. So we half-ass it, execute terribly incomplete burns, while also leaving in a bunch of other nasty shit, other atmospheric poisons long ago scrubbed, that we should really rather not burn, like sulfur. We know we not should burn sulfur, but we do. Not only will we go to great lengths and expenditures to capture the carbon sinks, when we do get them, and after all that trouble, we poop most of the C-H bond lode right out the rear end, and poison ourselves and everything else with our own incomplete combustion and incredibly inefficient mechanicals. We have been able to do this primarily because, until recently, the carbon sinks have been fairly cheap, and because the once clean earth could absorb a lot of shit before things went wrong. Now that those sinks are not so cheap, abuse of land, sea, air, fish, foul, and flesh in far away places, and right next door, is rampant. And things are going wrong.

We break those precious C-H bonds through explosive, oxidation. We have harnessed explosive oxidation to move a lot of shit around the planet. It's what we do. But we have also weaponized explosive oxidation to move some shit around really fast to kill each other in order to secure more C-H bond oxidation potential, which means securing the carbon sinks. We have employed weaponized explosive oxidation historically to seize and control resources long before the carbon sink became the necessary and sought lode. Those historic squabbles include resource lode fights over, land, water, rubber, tulips, coltan, gold, cattle, palm oil, soybean, on, and on.

We have exploited the carbon sinks through, mostly, explosive oxidation, for a long time, at a geometrically progressing rate, and then the carbon that we have been reintroducing into what other sentient beings might consider a crucial and therefore precious atmosphere -- the very same shit that the beautiful and wondrous flora of planet earth had sucked out of the once fetid and noxious troposphere several hundred million years ago -- is now once again causing a reversion to an earlier, warmer epoch, with high carbon content, and spotty trending toward primordial seas.

Hmm, gotta stop that!

So, whadda we humans come up with, a way to fix it? Why now we are on the verge of developing technology that will reinsert our commercial grade carbon back into the crust of the earth.

In other words, we've worked feverishly and violently to extract the earth's economic carbon sinks -- sinks we know how to use -- burn them up to move shit around and whack each other for more explosive bond oxidation so we can move even more shit around, and then grab the carbon remains, stuff it back into the crust of the earth pie, pull out a plumb, and say what a good boy am I.

* This equation and the many variations of alkanes, cycloalkanes, neoalkanes, ... hydrocarbons in general etc., all share the same common source of energy, the C-H bond.

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