Reaching For Zero™

To skip this introduction and go straight to the pyrolysis pages, click Pyrolysis or Commercial Scale Pyrolysis"


Actually, the problem is not in a nutshell, the problem is in a molecule. Or, more correctly, in several molecules.

A few years ago when people started to notice that things were changing in the atmosphere, the term "global warming" was coined. For many, this conjured up visions of longer summers and not so harsh winters. What could be bad about that? After all, longer summers would make for longer growing seasons for farmers and extended vacation weather for cottagers.

But weather is affected by a myriad of climate variables. The intricate relationship between these variables has been upset. And this has led to an upward spiral of natural disasters.

We now know that "global warming" = climate change = climate crisis.

The crisis is due to the accumulation of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere. These are molecules that trap heat in the atmosphere and prevent it from escaping into space. Through a variety of processes, GHGs raise the temperature of the planet and thus beget even more GHGs. For our world and all life on it, this is the worst possible manifestation of a vicious circle.

These are the principal GHGs that are creating the climate crisis:

The risk associated with the different GHGs is dependent upon the quantity of the gas, the relative potency of the gas (usually referred to as its "Global Warming Potential"), and its durability or lifespan.

Although water vapour is considered to have the largest effect on warming, it is also the most difficult for humans to manipulate directly.

On the other hand, Carbon Dioxide, the next most important GHG, is created and manipulated by human activity. It is the increase in the amount of this molecule, CO2, that is causing the climate to change so quickly and radically. Paradoxically, this increase, the creation of new CO2 molecules, is directly controlled by governments, companies, and individuals.

The term "creation" is important because it is the accretion of CO2, not the natural existence and balance of the gas, that is the enemy.

CO2 is a naturally occurring gas and it is essential to plants and thereby to all organisms that breathe oxygen. There is a natural CO2 cycle through the atmosphere, water, plants, and animals that is constant (other than for the effects of seasonal changes and some natural events). But we create additional CO2 whenever we use carbon-based fuels like gasoline, methane (natural gas), propane, and even wood, grasses, peat, and other "bio-mass" as fuels.

The burning of carbon fuels breaks the chemical bonds within the molecules, thereby releasing enormous quantities of energy and creating CO2 as a by-product. The CO2 rises up into our atmosphere and is accretive. It is like adding extra water to an already full bathtub. The full bathtub is fine if you do not disturb it, but if you add extra water into the full bathtub it will spill onto the floor. Similarly, every extra molecule of CO2 that is created and released into the atmosphere has a very direct, negative, impact on the CO2 balance.

The extra CO2 is causing the atmosphere to trap more heat, increase the temperature, creating "global warming" = climate change = climate crisis. Bigger and more frequent storms, hotter and longer droughts, larger and more numerous wild fires, warmer and longer summers, etc. The CO2 "bathtub" has started overflowing, which drives more climate change, which drives more CO2 creation, and the cycle keeps getting worse and more out of control. We will not stop or even slow the damage until we reduce and reverse the accretion of CO2.

And that is where "reaching for zero™" comes in.