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Elizabeth Swann - Jules Verne - World Hydrogen Challenge



RACE AGAINST TIME: The reliance on, and burning of fossil fuels, it is a man-made problem today that even the master storyteller would have had trouble predicting. Despite our scientists telling us the global warming is at a crucial tipping point, world leaders are allowing the use of fossil fuels to superheat the planet with dire consequences, all stemming from the greenhouse gases such combustion creates. Hydrogen is clean burning, and renewable. We do not need to burn coal or oil derived fuels.


Since the start of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-18th century, human activities have greatly increased the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Consequently, measured atmospheric concentrations of CO2 are many times higher than pre-industrial levels. 







‘Greenhouse gases’ are crucial to keeping our planet at a suitable temperature for life. Without the natural greenhouse effect, the heat emitted by Planet Earth would simply pass outwards from the Earth’s surface into space and the Earth would have an average temperature of about -20°C. Not good, unless you are an Eskimo. A much to be admired race.

A greenhouse gas is called that because it absorbs infrared radiation from the Sun in the form of heat, which is circulated in the atmosphere and eventually lost to space. Greenhouse gases also increase the rate at which the atmosphere can absorb short-wave radiation from the Sun, but this has a much weaker effect on global temperatures.

The CO2 released from the burning of fossil fuels is accumulating as an insulating blanket around the Earth, trapping more of the Sun’s heat in our atmosphere. Actions carried out by humans are called anthropogenic actions; the anthropogenic release of CO2 contributes to the current enhanced greenhouse effect.


The contribution that a greenhouse gas makes to the greenhouse effect depends on how much heat it absorbs, how much it re-radiates and how much of it is in the atmosphere. It is a delicate balancing act, that we have tipped over to super heating of the planet. We need to tip the scale back with the use of clean burning fuels, and greater efficiency of operations. Especially, since there are more humans each year to cater for, as our population increases.

In descending order, the gases that contribute most to the Earth’s greenhouse effect are:

water vapour (H2O)
carbon dioxide (CO2)
nitrous oxide (N2O)
methane (CH4)
ozone (O3)

In terms of the amount of heat these gases can absorb and re-radiate (known as their global warming potential or GWP), CH4 is 23 times more effective and N2O is 296 times more effective than CO2. However, there is much more CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere than there is CH4 or N2O.

Not all the greenhouse gas that we emit to the atmosphere remains there indefinitely. For example, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and the amount of CO2 dissolved in surface waters of the oceans stay in equilibrium, because the air and water mix well at the sea surface. When we add more CO2 to the atmosphere, a proportion of it dissolves into the oceans.



Greenhouse gases constitute a group of gases contributing to global warming and climate change.

The Kyoto Protocol, an environmental agreement adopted by many of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1997 to curb global warming, nowadays covers seven greenhouse gases:

the non-fluorinated gases:


- carbon dioxide (CO2)
- methane (CH4)
- nitrous oxide (N2O)

the fluorinated gases:


- hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
- perfluorocarbons (PFCs)
- sulphur hexafluoride (SF6)
- nitrogen trifluoride (NF3)

Converting them to carbon dioxide (or CO2) equivalents makes it possible to compare them and to determine their individual and total contributions to global warming of the planet


Quite amazingly, there are subsidies for fossil fuels, but not the same incentives for renewable energy or sustainable fuels.


It is a situation that reminds us of the Red Flag Acts, designed to slow the progression of motor vehicles over horse drawn carriages. The same thing happened before that with the Board of Longitude, doing their best to frustrate the efforts of John Harrison's marine chronometer, as a solution, they did not like, even though it solved the navigation problem for the British Admiralty.


Greenhouse gases produce harmful pollutants and carcinogenic particulates, a cause of lung cancer. In the words of John McEnroe: "You cannot be serious."






The father of sceince fiction, Jules Verne



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