To wit; the company behind the paper in question, Carbon Engineering, is noted by Wikipedia as having "oil sands financier N. Murray Edwards" as one of it's principal backers. And the article's "outside expert's opinion" quote comes from Stephen Pacal, co-director of the Carbon Mitigation Initiative at Princeton- which has an "extended partnership with BP" worth a great deal of money . The financial conflicts behind this research are staggering.
1. the big oil companies and the massive political machine that supports them drops the whole "global warming isn't real" line, no more snowballs being taken in to congress and all that. Because now they can just say they'll suck it out of the air and they can continue to think they can keep burning all the coal and oil they want (which of course they should not). Once everyone is on the same page that global warming is real, they can't go back on that. If the approach here proves to be insufficient (which it probably is), a lot of political points have been scored in any case.
2. the machinery to suck out the CO2 is another big "green" industry, like solar or wind, but doesn't compete with oil/coal! it's meant to mitigate the damage they do. So as you've noted, way more money and attention might end up going here, increasing the chance of its viability.
3. No matter what happens with the rate of burning oil/coal, we need this anyway. There's consensus that we're pretty much over the point of no return with warming due to all the ice that has melted, and if the permafrost goes that might be catastrophic.
Because no matter how much the price for direct air capture (DAC) falls in the future, it's still going to be massive. The submitted paper estimates a current cost of between $94 and $232 per ton. That's a big drop from a decade ago on a per ton basis, but it's still massive overall. At the low end you're looking at a minimum of ~$1.34 trillion annually if we were able to capture 100% of the 32.5 GtC of emissions accumulated in the atmosphere in 2017 alone. That's also completely ignoring the total ~230 GtC of the same since 1870 as well as emissions absorbed by the land and oceans (which has its own negative effects).
Nobody expects to remove all of it, or even all of what we'll continue to emit via DAC. Just keeping the expected increase to under the 2°C degree upper limit agreed to in the Paris Agreement is going to be challenging in itself even with cheaper, more efficient DAC methods. Actually reversing the temperature changes would be the "dream" for climate engineering. Something like that--which would involve every type of carbon dioxide removal methods along with atmospheric and space-based solar radiation management--would be a herculean project on a scale the human race has never before attempted. It'd make the Apollo program look like a five year old with a lemonade stand. And eventually, we'll have to figure out a way to make real progress on that front.
Basically, the hope that climate engineering will allow us to fix it later--or better yet, the dream that we can reverse it altogether--is both appealing and potentially dangerous. Why sacrifice today when we'll figure it out tomorrow? Just look at US infrastructure spending for an example of that kind of thinking.
Just $1.34 trillion for the recycling of carbon of an entire year like 2017 is crazy cheap. Once installed, the machines can recycle every year for much less money. One has to wonder why it has not been done alreday.
Annual global fossil fuel subsidies amounting to $5.3 trillion in 2015 (6.5% of global GDP):
Dr. Mark Skidmore – $21 Trillion Missing from US Federal Budget:
Psychology, I think. We’re not, as a species, good with numbers like that. Brexit was fought over a much smaller sum, both gross and as a percentage of the economy.
Corrupt in the sense of personal profit (including lucrative talks and positions in companies and donations by companies) and profit for established national companies.
This way, you can bet on DAC becoming cheap, or you can invest in renewables.
I'm not sure those two phrases belong in the same paragraph, for the same exact reasons stated by the gp.
We need to move to a net negative carbon economy (not carbon free, net negative), or find ways to reduce input heat (reflecting sunlight basically).
This is without taking into account the CO2 that is emitted to extract the oil from the ground.
For those who like more exact calculation: one molecule of C8H18 (octane) weights approx 8 * 12+18=114 masses of H, only that one molecule will produce when burnt 8 CO2 molecules, which weight 8 * 12+2 * 8 * 16=352, and 352/114 ~ 2.98 ~ 3
A sphere with a diameter of 10M.
That's an insane volume when you think about it.
A false sense of future security already exists, but on the opposite side! I'm sick of hearing people complaining about pollution and how we should switch to greener energy, without ever specifying which such magic green source of energy we may use!
I hear a lot about electric cars, but it's not clear to me what is an acceptable way to refill those batteries: burning oil in big thermal stations instead of private engines? Nuclear? New dams for hydroelectric?
When will people swallow the fact that our current lifestyle depends on the availability of cheap energy and that such energy has to be taken somewhere? Please, let's stop saying stupidly just "no". Let's rather look for alternatives and we'll all be happier!
They dropped that a few years ago
Gas can help with all three of the UK’s energy objectives – providing affordable, secure and low carbon energy.
Gas is none of those things. It’s not cheap, it’s going to run out, and it isn’t low carbon.
Since natural gas's energy efficiency is much higher than that of coal or oil, the amount of carbon dioxide released is the same for a greater amount of energy. Furthermore, it requires less carbon input to retrieve the natural gas.
"Secure" doesn't mean "is never going to run out", but rather that we don't have to rely on other countries from it. The UK can meet some of its natural gas needs with local fracking, reducing the need to import gas.
(And other commenters have addressed the low carbon thing)
Climate Change Has Run Its Course
But frankly, it's not worth it.
TLDR: Climate change is past its peak as a cause because it's being co-mingled with other social justice concerns and because of concern fatigue.
They say they dropped it, or they stopped funding conservative think tanks and pols?
I'm not sure that's true, at least in the US. The extent to which "post-truth" has become a meaningful phrase since 2016 is disheartening.
And of course, the cynical would say that it doesn't matter. If carbon-pollution lobbyists can go from "it isn't real" to "it isn't a problem" then they will have achieved their goal. This is true whether or not these technologies are technically or economically feasible.
Getting excited about an imagined giant CO2-fixing industry is the broken windows fallacy on a planetary scale: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_broken_window
This has no chance of ever being viable. Reducing energy usage is way more efficient than 'mitigating' carbon. And if you wanted to mitigate carbon, it costs $0.03 cents per ton just to reduce deforestation, whereas this costs $94 per ton.
It doesn't matter about the estimated costs of something (feel free to share sources also) if people aren't going to actually do the thing. Even the most extreme and fully impossible reduction of carbon emissions, like banning all cars on Earth (which would also have immense social and economic costs in itself) will not reverse the problem now. All strategies must be employed at once.
I don't know if any modeling has been done on this (or if modeling it is even possible), but I'd be very worried about unintended side effects with the large scale, intensive application of this sort of technology.
'As you can see, in either scenario, global emissions must peak and begin declining immediately. For a medium chance to avoid 1.5 degrees, the world has to zero out net carbon emissions by 2050 or so — for a good chance of avoiding 2 degrees, by around 2065.
After that, emissions have to go negative. Humanity has to start burying a lot more carbon than it throws up into the atmosphere. There are several ways to sequester greenhouse gases, from reforestation to soil enrichment to cow backpacks, but the backbone of the envisioned negative emissions is BECCS, or bioenergy with carbon capture and sequestration.
BECCS — raising, harvesting, and burning biomass for energy, while capturing and burying the carbon emissions — is unproven at scale. Thus far, most demonstration plants of any size attaching CCS to fossil fuel facilities have been over-budget disasters. What if we can’t rely on it? What if it never pans out?
"If we want to avoid depending on unproven technology becoming available," the authors say, "emissions would need to be reduced even more rapidly."'
"It is a matter of profound disappointment to me that science and economics have taken on some strange political ownership"
"Climate change is science. Hardcore science."
"It makes sense to consume things sensibly. Common sense is not a big part of the conversation that normally goes on on this thing."
I think the strategy is changing from denial...
Current anthropomorphic climate change models suggest we might see 2-3 degree changes in 100 years. I believe the science is likely accurate here. I support moving towards renewables and just about anything else generally supported by the climate change crowd. However, I think the panic button has been pushed a little too hard on this issue. I think things like overfishing the ocean and even plastics in the ocean are going to be bigger problems in the short run than human caused climate change.
Generally speaking this kind of nuance isn't allowed. The kind of response that says "If water rises a few feet, move a few feet inland, you've got a century of notice. If you have to farm over there instead of over here, then farm over there instead." is sacrilegious. To many, I would be considered a "climate denier."
Other nations are already experiencing famine due to permanent desertification. This has already exacerbated political and military conditions; drought is a major factor in the Syrian and other war zones.
To compare this to the range of human history is not meaningful. "They had it worse" isn't helpful for now. What matters is our response to the conditions that we are expected to experience.
Around the 120,000 BCE time, there was a "great filter" event that caused the mass death of most of humanity, causing a massive reduction in human genetic diversity. Yes, we may have it "easier," but today's problems are still real and must be dealt with.
I think it's useful to frame the climate change process solely in terms of human impact, and specifically economic, political, and security terms to governments.
I wouldn't consider you a denier, and it's important to share your perspective. I hope you consider mine.
It isn't obvious that the cost being in the trillions is cause to blanch - at the scale we are talking, the cost of mitigating with more expensive energy is also likely to be in the trillions.
You might benefit from being more specific about how many trillions.
This is a political debate, not a scientific debate. And the political debates mean stating the most extreme position that's within the realm of plausibility. Or having others say even more extreme things to move the window of plausibility.
On the other hand processes like glaciation and desertification can happen with alarming rapidity. Supposedly the former can occur in less than a year http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1227990/Ice-A.... Those are two kinds of climate change that I consider cause for concern. The dust bowl was a big deal. And then there are things like super volcano eruptions.
Plus, if they successfully develop the technology, they get to run two complementary businesses instead of just one, kind of like owning a bar with a pay toilet.
That said, fooling people is a well-established business of its own. It started with the tobacco companies, but it sure hasn't ended there.  So they might be sticking with the tried and true playbook here.
 E.g., this excellent blog on wireless charging companies: https://liesandstartuppr.blogspot.com/
If people with such ties are untrustworthy, that means no experts can be trusted, and all you're left with is the uninformed and various angry activists.
I'll take my chances with well informed experts who are possibly not perfectly impartial.
For that matter, the choice isn't between oil-industry experts and complete novices. Carbon capture is chemistry; there are plenty of chemical engineers with independently-funded academic positions, or involved in non-oil-industry funded companies. If some of them published a review of the plausibility of carbon capture, I'd listen to it.
I think this is exactly the effect that fossil fuel companies hope the FUD will produce.
It ignores the atmospheric CO2 that is no longer abosrbed by the greenhouse plants by feeding them this CO2: in this sense its $100 dollar per tonne CO2 more expensive than letting the greenhouse plants extract it themselves!
It's just a good news show, now nature.com is doing it too!
Renewables on the other hand are fractured. Do they go for Wind, Solar, Batteries, Bio fuels, or what? It's not that hard to keep Exxon alive through this transition, but you also need to keep it huge and profitable which is very tricky.
IMO, they might be better off going into chemistry or engineering because being an energy company sounds fine there is little connection between renewables and oil. But again how do you keep that kind of scale?
Not only that but a very large number of people want to believe results like this are true. People are really scared to downgrade their lives and will resist at any cost. Clinging to delusional beliefs is one of the oldest tricks in the book.
That is a complete joke.
I agree that lay readers should be skeptical of experts with a vested interest in an outcome. But that doesn't mean we should be unduly pessimistic about research that has only positive evaluations (and is in Nature) as of yet — even if all of the experts who've weighed in have financial or other relationships on one side of the issue.
Sure, they'll still be doing massive ecological harm with oil spills, disruptive drilling, fracking-related earthquakes/water reservoir contamination, and so on, but at least we won't bake ourselves to death, there's that ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
But, I'm still skeptical because these sorts of breakthroughs are always overhyped. If it's real, the proof is in the pudding.
Please, let me play the role of the devil's advocate for a moment: fossil fuel use is fine! It MUST be fine!
Fossil fuel gives people cheap energy that used to come from muscles (human and animal) and, in particular, comfortable ways to move around, where you want, when you want.
People switched to fossil fuel as soon as possible because life got immediately enormously more joyful.
Global warming is two more Celsius degrees for average atmosphere temperature. Give me two degrees less each day and I'll give you back my car... just to ask it back the following day, and maybe I'll propose you to give a couple more degrees each day in exchange for no more whining about good old days' cars (nowadays labelled as "polluting" cars).
I wish them all the best. At the end of the day Shell has come forward and indicated that renewable energy is best, despite their namesake. I'd own an EV if I could, but I can't: the next best is a hybrid. The two times I fill up a month I actively seek out Shell because of their stance. There are PR implications.
Imagine a world where fossil fuels are fine (not fossil really, but carbon). I have great and frankly revolutionary ideas surrounding easy and fast EV refills, but they are simply horrific in the face of turning electricity from renewables and atmospheric carbon into fuel.
My physics Spidey senses are tingling and this sounds too good to be true, but if it isn't: god speed.
Shouldn’t all studies be held with skepticism?
If the results were the opposite, people with ideological intent would be trumpeting this study as further confirmation of their own bias.
Basically it sounds like you are saying, “be skeptical of anything that goes against my deeply held beliefs because my cause is just while the other side is evil.”
Selective skepticism is a bad way to do science. Scientists should be skeptical of everything that doesn’t have repeatable experimental evidence.
Am I understanding your point correctly?
All studies should be held with skepticism, but (assuming skepticism is a "resource" that can be exhausted), we should likely focus more of our skepticism on studies that clearly benefit from the result of the topic being discussed.
The oil giants have helped suppress research, pervert justice and many other things to prevent this day.
It is here because the inevitability of reality makes it so.
I’m glad we are here, but we needed this 30 years ago.
1) If the messenger has not invested their own money into efforts to reduce emissions, say "they won't put their money where their mouth is."
2) If the messenger has invested their own money into efforts to reduce emissions, say "they're just scaring people about climate to profit from their investments."
Considering 1100 Gtons in the atmosphere and $200 per ton would be roughly $220 trillions.
The current world's GDP is $78 trillions.
Even if the world invested $10 trillions every year it would still take 20 years to remove all the carbon emitted between 1850 and today.
Of course we would keep pumping about 37 Gtons per year (and growing).
Project Drawdown ranks every approach in terms of tonnage of CO2 and cost. http://www.drawdown.org/solutions-summary-by-rank
These approaches get amplified by a price on carbon. If you are interested in convincing your Member of Congress to price carbon, take a look at the most effective organization doing this work: http://www.citizensclimatelobby.org
I was surprised to find that, of all things, "Refrigerant Management" is the single thing that holds the greatest potential to reduce carbon emissions . It makes a lot of sense, but it would definitely not be what I would have guessed.
They are probably the two easiest ways regular folks can learn about and get involved in climate policy (and I mean real impacts, not just clicktivism).
Please get involved – it takes no money and very little time!
Why would they have to bring feminism into that? I mean sure, it's a good thing to educate everyone. But why mix it?
How can I trust all the other points on the list now? What if they are also just pushing some other political agenda?
I can't. They just compromised the list's integrity by that.
Why not also establish a one-child policy in western countries? Or start actively killing sick people? /s
All the other reasons were basically how it makes lifes better for those women. Which is surely a good thing, but doesn't matter in that context.
This needs to come down in cost 20x to be a viable solution to our problem. And that’s just going by cost, not looking at the logistical aspects. For example the plant pictured captures 1 million tonnes annually. So we would require 37,000 of those giant plants to capture our annual emissions. We haven’t explored how much energy would be required to do that and where we would get it from. The plant shown uses gas, a polluting power source oddly, and a very cheap energy cost figure in its calculations. Presumably we’d want to use solar. And thus half the efficiency of that plant. So double the number required to 74 thousand.
Everyone getting excited that this is a solutions has gotten ahead of the science and logistics. We’re far from being there.
And it's likely that our global energy usage will skyrocket in the future for a variety of reasons. The first level is that many places are still undeveloped and have not yet hit their 'China' phase. But beyond that we can also just do some really cool sci-fi soundings things if we massively ramped up our energy production. Fossil fuels, and fuels in general, were never really fit for these sort of ideas - but solar certainly is.
This  article goes into detail on the remaining nuclear material. Keep in mind that this is at current consumption rates. Energy usage rates are going to increase in the future, and right now only 4% of global energy production is nuclear. In other words, you can shave orders of magnitudes off the numbers they give in that article to give a ballpark for how long nuclear would last. It's just not a great fit for the longterm future.
 - https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-long-will-glo...
 - http://www.nuclearfaq.ca/cnf_sectionG.htm#uranium_supply
 - http://energyfromthorium.com/cubic-meter/
The second link is junk. The average distribution of elements in the Earth's crust does not mean each every and every chunk of earth contains exactly that distribution. And while many types of rocks do contain trace amounts of uranium, it's nowhere near 13 ppm. Though so far as I can see even that site didn't state that.
That's the point, it's not technically accurate. A breeder makes more fissile material than it consumes. Fissile material is the fuel in light water reactors, but breeders use a different, more abundant fuel. I know that, you know that, and we both know that we both know that. But inaccuracies like this lead to the likes of Helen Caldicott dismissing the whole technology with a sneer such as "a breeder that magically makes more fuel than it consumes".
> trace amounts of uranium, it's nowhere near 13 ppm
It's about 13ppm uranium and thorium, in fact about 10ppm thorium and 2-4ppm uranium. And while energyfromthorium doesn't state these numbers explicitly, it clearly uses them in the energy density calculations.
> does not mean each every and every chunk of earth contains exactly that distribution
So "burning the rocks" will never work, because there are a few rocks that don't burn? It works even better, because some rocks burn better, e.g. Conway Granites at 56ppm thorium.
Extracting uranium from the oceans is about 5x more expensive than mining it. Since fuel is a small component of nuclear cost, that's not a big deal; we don't do it right now because mining covers our needs. With fast reactors, it wouldn't be a problem at all, and would cover our needs for many millions of years, even at much higher consumption rates.
Storage adds quite a bit of cost to solar (other than hydro, which is geographically limited). If we get storage technology that makes storage+solar cheaper than nuclear, then sure, that might be better.
However, we're already nearing a planetary limit on land usage, after which we seriously impact biodiversity. The vast solar arrays this would require wouldn't exactly help.
I'm not sure where you're getting he millions of years for breeders. The article mentions the value I've seen pretty much everywhere which saltwater extraction could theoretically provide enough material for about 60k years of nuclear operation. And breeders could ideally reduce consumption to a bit less than 1% of current usage. So that'd be 6 million years, but that's at current consumption rates. If we replaced our energy with nuclear that'd be a 25 fold increase in usage so we're down to 240k years at current rates. And that's in the scenario where we're extracting all the material we can from ocean water, using every single resource we have on the planet, and doing it all with perfectly functioning breeder reactors.
Just seems we should be targeting something that isn't a numbers game, though granted you can probably make some argument that cobalt will be a limiter on solar but solar also comes with many other perks - decentralization, minimal danger from failure, much cheaper, practically infinite energy availability, and so on. The only issue is storing energy, but this can be done affordably in numerous ways even with present day tech - and decentralization can also remove lots of the burden here.
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economics_of_nuclear_power_pla...
However, uranium in seawater is actually in an equilibrium, so the more we extract, the more gets dissolved from rocks. Effectively it's a renewable resource:
Whether breeders would be more expensive depends on their design. One that looks quite economical, according to independent engineers who evaluated it, is Moltex:
Cleaning up 150 years of emissions in 20 or 40 or even 60 years seems like a miracle on par with the moon landing or eradicating smallpox.
In front of me right now I have the June issue of the IEEE Spectrum special report, titled "Blueprints for a Miracle: 10 Technologies for a More Livable Planet". Its highlights include carbon-eating fuel cells; turbines driven by super-critical CO2 (nearly "free" carbon capture, courtesy the Allam cycle); a plant in Iceland producing methanol fuel from renewable (geothermal) energy and waste CO2; a pure-electric airplane; plant-based and in-vitro meats; and a sodium-cooled travelling-wave nuclear reactor with decent performance.... It seems to me like we're coming to the fight awfully late, but we may also have more weapons than we'd realized.
Also, let's not forget that our emissions are still significant (and growing) and that feedbacks will keep on warming the planet regardless of what we do.
The cost of doing something is not the same as an economic loss from doing it.
I think it's a lot more practical to reduce our emissions to close to zero, hard as that is.
This isn't my field, but so many human endeavors go like that. Just buy a little time so we can figure out how to do better, which then buys time to figure out how to do even better.
If you start reversing acidification, the ocean is just going to start pulling in more CO2 from the atmosphere.
1) Nobody really knows how much is that. 350ppm? 300ppm? 250ppm?
2) Don't forget about feedbacks which have already been triggered and will keep adding warming regardless of what humans do.
It is a grave mistake to believe that CO2 as such is bad and must be removed from the atmosphere. It is an essential fertilizer for both phytoplankton and land-based plants (at current levels these plants are in effect starved for CO2, because they evolved during geological time periods with much higher CO2 levels).
At what CO2 level in the atmosphere would land-based vegetation go extinct? should one take this into account when designing or advocating massive mechanisms to remove CO2 from the atmosphere? once you've admitted that some CO2 level is good for the planet, why and how do you determine an ideal/target level?
"From 1870 to 2014, cumulative carbon emissions totaled about 545 GtC. Emissions were partitioned among the atmosphere (approx. 230 GtC or 42%), ocean (approx. 155 GtC or 28%) and the land (approx. 160 GtC or 29%)."  (And 230 GtC is 843 GtCO2, so that doesn't match either.)
Your asserted number appears closer to an estimate of total GtC in the atmosphere, not merely the modern addition via human CO2 emissions. Where did that 1,100 number come from?
"A temperature rise of 2 ̊C is consistent with combustion and release of around 1 trillion tonnes of carbon (1000 Gt C). The 2013 IPCC Working Group 1 report calculates the remaining global carbon budget from 2011 onwards consistent with the political goal of limiting global temperature rise to less than 2 ̊C to be 300 Gt C, equivalent to emission of 1100 Gt CO2. Current known and exploitable fossil fuel reserves are equivalent to 3100 Gt CO2, three times greater than this cumulative emissions budget. A conservative estimate of the additional fossil carbon resource that could be extracted is 30-50 times greater (~45000 Gt CO2)." 
Their reference for that amount is "IPCC. Fifth Assessment Report Summary for Policymakers, Working Group 1: the physical science basis (2013)".  However when I read and search that document that particular number is absent. A search of the full 1,552 page report  also comes up empty.
 Scott. V., Haszeldine, R.S.H., Tett, S.F.B., Oschlies, A., Fossil fuels in a trillion tonne world, Nature Climate Change 5, 419–423, 2015. (https://www.nature.com/articles/nclimate2578)
The author ‘post-print’ PDF version is available through Edinburgh Research Explorer: https://www.research.ed.ac.uk/portal/files/19407404/Fossil_f...
Oh, the old argument trotted out again. What do you mean, plants "evolved" in the past and then what? Stopped evolving?
If plants were starved of CO2 now they would go extinct, which they aren't. To prove my point, I present exhibit A: The Amazon rainforest.
This is a proven fact and has been amply demonstrated in scientific experiments; it is related to well-understood biological processes in photosynthesis. It is the reason greenhouses deliberately increase CO2 ppm.  And yes, the plant kingdom has evolved just a few pathways for photosynthesis that worked well at much higher CO2 levels (10-15x current) when they originated; and these pathways are not magically "evolving" to function with diminishing CO2 levels, they've merely become suboptimal given the atmospheric conditions in the last million years, and would stop working below specific levels.
Your ignorant dismissals are moronic denials of facts and science. Surely you don't pretend that there is no lower limit to the viable amount of CO2 in the air for Earth vegetation to survive?
I thought the parent here had made a off-by-orders of magnitude error - how can a liter of petrol (which itself is only a kg) produce 2.31kg of CO2 ... i mean work it out, all the carbon would have to attach to 2x oxygen ... ok that might just ... err ...
see this reference for a walk through of the calculation -
Every time I pour petrol into my tank I am basically pouring twice that weight of CO2 into the atmosphere.
I may be very dumb but I never thought if it like that before. I always assumed CO2 was a minor byproduct ... but like breathing.
When you eat 1kg of peanut butter, if I've done my math right, you'll breathe out about 2.3kg of CO2. Dry cereal would be about 1.5kg. Most foods have a lot of water in them, though.
Carbon Atomic Mass: 12.0107 amu
Oxygen, about 16
so carbon itself is really just 27% of CO2 12 / (32 + 12)
so you're not pouring "twice the weight of CO2" of petro, that would be wrong. Its taking 73% of the weight from the air, and putting it back, plus a little more.
it was just a human way to look at it
Carbon dioxide sequestration or transformation is the next step. Getting the first step to be economical is also nice.
But does this take into account catalytic converters or other emissions controls? Cats take the CO from the combustion process and turn it into CO2, the gas you're referencing. I'd just like to clarify because this is a big revelation in my way of thinking about pollution. Are we really releasing that much CO2 post emissions controls?
2C8H18 + 2502 -> 16CO2 + 18H2O
So yes, burning a liter of octane (6 moles) will use ~1600 liters of oxygen and emit ~1000 liters of carbon dioxide, or a little over two kilograms. In pure carbon terms, it produces (drumroll) the exact same amount as the input: 49 moles at 12 g/mol or 590 grams.
Source: Am registered-voter citizen of the United States.
You’re also assuming that capturing everything scales linearly from capturing something.
All I did was bring up some concerns. I did not state any facts, merely point out details that need to be addressed.
Seriously, this stuff won't work, and it's pointless as long as fossil fuels are burned somewhere on Earth. It's bloody obvious what to do instead: (1) stop burning coal for electricity, (2) stop burning methane ("natural" gas) for electricity, (3) stop burning methane for process heat, (4) stop using methane to make fertilizer, (5) use electrified railways instead of trucks for most transportation.
Then it makes sense to talk about synthetic fuels, CO2 capture, electrifying the remaining transportation, etc, but not before.
Another distraction. They don't matter as long as coal is being burned.
> renewables are over-generating
Even then, trying to capture a trace gas is the dumbest thing anyone could attempt. Especially if the process involves calcining lime---what a ridiculous waste of energy. Just make ammonia instead.
Sure, let's kill off basically the only way to get things and people across the world. I'm sure that'll end up lovely.
Capturing it at its source in industry would be a big start, then we just need to focus on forest clearing which is also a political issue
Spending time and resources on things that won't work (economically) does no one any good.
-- Carl Sagan (paraphrased from memory)
The interesting thing to me is that this is presumably something ideal to do with excess solar power (e.g. it's a much better deal than paying other states to use it, which is what California is currently doing).
Another question is how does this compare, price-wise, to using solar power to create fuel (e.g. hydrogen) and truck it around the way we do with gas.
This is basic thermodynamics: if you can burn fossil fuels to get energy/electricity, then putting the CO2 byproduct back into an inert form will cost exactly as much (or more; courtesy of the second law) as it would have to get that energy from a different source in the first place.
There is no technology - now or ever - that will make "scrubbing" CO2 more economical than simply leaving the oil in the ground, and using renewable energy sources.
The costs you are referring to are in energy. It's entirely possible that the $ cost to put it back into the ground are cheaper than to get it out.
Except here we can put it into storage in a more convenient place.
The real problem is that we do not have enough energy to run this yet. A bunch of nuclear plants would solve it but these come with political baggage. Unfortunately CO2 recovery is very local.
> There is no technology - now or ever - that will make "scrubbing" CO2 more economical than simply leaving the oil in the ground, and using renewable energy sources.
This is not true.
There is no thermodynamic reason that the energy of splitting C(n)H(2n+2) + 2O(2) into water and carbon dioxide should have any connection to the energy of moving molecules of CO2 from location A to location B. If you were talking about carbon sequestration by turning it back into a hydrocarbon fuel, then yes. For carbon capture and storage, this line of thinking is wrong. Most of the CO2 sequestration strategies either rely on pressurization/containerization (PV energy is paltry compared to bond energy) or the formation of some carbonic acid ion (ionic bond energies are paltry compared to covalent bond energies).
Now, there is an issue that CO2 is severely diluted by putting it into the atmosphere. The entropic effects of dilution have to be overcome to concentrate CO2. A back-of-the-envelope estimate puts the entropy of mixing CO2 (400 ppm) into air at around 0.62 J/K, so roughly 20.4 kJ/mole CO2 are required, at least, to return it to a pure state (just taking about 3820 moles of air + CO2 and turning it into 3819 moles of air + 1 mole of pure CO2). Burning a mole of methane will produce approximately 810 kJ of energy and 1 mole of CO2 (and 2 moles of water).
So the energy produced by creating CO2 will be approximately 800,000 J/mole, while the energy required to separate CO2 at 400 ppm from the atmosphere will be approximately 20,000 J/mole. You could have a natural gas-fired CO2 concentrator (the Carbon Engineering process requires heat to regenerate their chemical absorbers, so you could get pretty high utilization of the heat of combustion) and it wouldn't be an issue. Again, this is because there's a huge difference in collecting CO2 versus breaking and forming chemical bonds. That implies that 1 mole of methane can be used to sequester less than 39 moles of CO2 from the air. Now, we assumed that we could direct energy 100% to CO2 capture (maybe not a bad assumption for a chemical "free energy" process like LiOH scrubbing), but I think it's safe to say at least that 1 mole of methane could power a plant that sequesters all of the CO2 it produces (1 mole) plus some extra.
Now, I don't work in CO2 capture, but I work with membranes and liquid separation processes, which experience similar issues when you're trying to concentrate a dilute product. I expect that it's not the energy of the separation that's an issue, but rather the capital expense required to scale a CO2 capture plant to the desired CO2 capture rate (I would guess it'd have to be tonnes per day or higher) and maintaining sufficient air flow (about 2500 tonnes of air at average global CO2 concentration are required to produce 1 tonne of CO2, or about 2.1 million m^3 of air -- 1 tonne/day => 24.6 m^3/second/(tonne/day), which is quite a lot) to the capture media that makes the process expensive. There are plenty of chemical processes (maybe fifty trillion different amine scrubber chemistries/processes, hydroxides, zeolites, base-functional polymers and membranes) to work with. For reference, a 1 tonne/day plant would be equivalent to about negative 61 cars per year.
So, it would be far more efficient to capture CO2 at the power plant than free-floating in air (this is what, e.g., chemical looping combustion attempts to achieve). That I'm aware, the two ways you could achieve this are by removing nitrogen on the inlet (N2-O2 separation, or O2 adsorption/desorption onto a selective adsorber), or removing nitrogen on the outlet (N2-CO2 separation).
So while there are practical issues in CO2 capture which might be hard to overcome, the thermodynamics of CO2 capture does at least pass the "sniff test".
The problem here is cultural, not scientific.
Real science about climate change is not politically palatable, NETs represent an easy way out.
Most people wait until they have a significant event (heart attack, they can't get up the stairs without being out of breath, etc) until they change.
I always figured it would take some sort of big event for people to change, and then when that happened, we would start working on retroactive fixes ( like sucking co2 out of the air ), rather than preventative fixes.
I think of this like a battery. Use wind power or tides even solar to create this gas. Then you have easy to transport energy that is carbon neutral as you've added no new CO2 to the air. That is the excitement, not the cost per unit of energy.
Using $418/ton of oil: $418 * (1-0.72) = $117, in striking range of the $100 target. Where renewables match or exceed hydrocarbon fuel, $100 would appear to be a reasonable price.
Alternatively, if your emission-free energy cost is same as oil, you tax oil-based energy 100% and now you reach carbon-neutral?
I don't see why it has to be 4x cheaper, clarification would be helpful.
I'm curious why you wouldn't just bury the calcium carbonate pellets at this point (or sell them, since they have value).
Pumping CO2 underground isn't a cheap or reliable process yet as far as I can tell.
> the company is planning instead to use the gas to make synthetic, low-carbon fuels.
I suppose the answer is that the synthetic natural gas is more valuable than the calcium carbonate. Seems like adding more steps than strictly necessary though.
> In the United States, Carbon Engineering is eyeing a recently expanded subsidy for carbon capture and sequestration, which could provide a tax credit of $35 per tonne for atmospheric CO2 that is converted into fuels.
Missed this bit in the article. Regulatory arbitrage, which is a very good reason to add another step in your process, even if it's not strictly optimal.
Or the Midwest farmers could bale their corn waste bury it instead of burning it.
Arizona could pipe in seawater and grow seaweed by the ton.
Potassium hydroxide absorbs carbon dioxide:
2 KOH + CO2 >> K2CO3 + H2O
Calcium oxide regenerates potassium hydroxide:
CaO + K2CO3 + H2O >> CaCO3 + 2 KOH
Calcium oxide is recovered by heating:
CaCO3 + heat >> CaO + CO2
It just feels like the carbon dioxide released would be a substantial offset to that captured. Ultimately, it would still be viable if the net outcome is a reduction in atmospheric carbon dioxide; but I’m not convinced, at least with the approach in question, that humanity’s interest is at the top of the list.
It would be absolutely fantastic and very much appreciated if someone who knows about the actual “accounting” of carbon dioxide in this type of carbon sequestration technology can comment.
And google says we currently pump 40 billion tons per year.
average 5 billion per year for 100 years.
500 billion excess tons.
50 trillion dollars to remove what we've already polluted.
+ 4 trillion per year to offset what we're at already.
Yeah, nothing about that is "cheap". Maybe... slightly less astronomically expensive.
And a lot of cheap carbon capture is "pump it into the ground", which, while I'm not a geologist, but I'm guessing the petroleum folks aren't looking to hard for leaks back into the atmosphere.
But given those numbers, greening the sahara seems like a much better approach than any industrial approach.
However to achieve that in practice we would need to build enough CO2 capture plants to capture the CO2 released by all human activity, and we've been building machines that release CO2 for decades. The effort to catch up is immense. The similar company Climeworks, cited in the article, has an example of such a plant here : http://www.climeworks.com/our-products/. The DAC-18 variant, which looks like the prototype that they actually built, it is a complex 3 stories high structure with 90m^2 of ground area, and according to the product page it can capture 2460 kg per day, although that is probably under ideal conditions and in practice it could be considerably less. According to a quick search we released around 36.75 Gt of CO2 last year. To capture that, we would need to build 36.75e12/365/2460 = 41 million such plants, at the bare minimum. And that would be only break even, we'd need even more to start capturing the excess CO2 already in the atmosphere. That seems unrealistic.
Or maybe a tree that grows super deep and thick roots.
At this stage you can remove half of the algae each day and they'll regenerate within twenty-four hours. The extracted algae biomass (mostly composed of atoms that used to be air or water) can be "upcycled" by feeding to higher organisms (fish, earthworms, etc.) or processed industrially for e.g. plastics, fuel, foodstuffs, whatever.
Ah, here we go, a few people are doing it already: http://www.iflscience.com/environment/urban-algae-farm-gobbl...
The important thing is it's cheap as heck and doesn't require fancy technology.
 Goldfish eat algae. Few in the tank makes it a simple aquaculture system.
 I looked for images of "tubes of algae in the sun" and most of them were transparent. If you can see through the tube you're doing it wrong.
 If conditions are optimal, otherwise you might have to be happy with 35-40%.
You're talking about engineering an ecosystem, and it is fancy technology. pH, temperature, and salinity all need to be copacetic. There's a reason "everyone" does aquaponics with talapia and vascular plants. Aquaponic systems usually run at pretty abysmal water qualities, but talapia will live in mud and vascular plants don't mind having lots of nutrients in their water. Algae will have a hard time growing at that high density you're imagining if they're being shaded by murky brown water. Of course these systems will have pretty big algae blooms, but usually these are biofilms growing attached to the walls of the system, close to the surface.
If you feed the algae to other organisms, they're going to die and that carbon is going to turn into methane, which is 23 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2.
There's also the matter of growing algae in tubes made of petroleum plastic. How much carbon went into mining & processing the petroleum, manufacturing your tubes, and transporting them out to where your facility is, 100 miles from the nearest Starbucks? How long will it take you to pay off that carbon debt? (If there's a biobased alternative I'd love to hear about it.)
But there are solutions as well as problems. Aquaponic systems don't have to be directly coupled, for instance. And those biofilms are much denser than planktonic growth (ie tubes). My main "research" area (calling me a researcher would be too generous) is attached growth cultivation systems, for a lot of these same reasons. Pyrolysis can be used to turn the carbon into a biochar with very low bioavailability, solving the issue with methane.
Just to clarify, bubbling doesn't maximize growth as much as keep the algae alive. Keeping high-density algae well mixed does ensure that everyone gets their turn to be in the sun. But algae can't survive in an anoxic environment, and without aeration a tall column of water will quickly become anoxic. The algae on the bottom will rot and you're back to converting CO2 into methane (which, in most systems, would come right out of the top of the tube). Additionally, aeration provides CO2; no CO2 would mean no photosynthesis.
I'm on the crackpot spectrum but I'll try not to waste your time. :-)
As I mentioned in a different sub-thread, I started looking at algae as part of a system to reprocess oceanic plastic trash into biomass, so my particular ideas and designs are probably not going to be directly applicable to CO2 sequestration.
> I'm bullish on algae but you may want to adjust your expectations. If you have a photobioreactor, with algae growing too densely to see through, in the sun, with goldfish, you're probably going to cook your goldfish.
In the context of an ocean-going plastic recycling system I hadn't thought of heat pollution before because I assumed I would have the thermal mass of the ocean in which to dissipate excess heat.
To handle it you could: reduce the infrared light reaching the tubes; chill the incoming air with e.g. Ranque-Hilsch vortex tube ; put radiator fins on the shade side; use heat-tolerant fish; hang evaporative coolers in between the tubes; rotate the tube assemblies.
> You're talking about engineering an ecosystem, and it is fancy technology. pH, temperature, and salinity all need to be copacetic. There's a reason "everyone" does aquaponics with talapia and vascular plants. Aquaponic systems usually run at pretty abysmal water qualities, but talapia will live in mud and vascular plants don't mind having lots of nutrients in their water. Algae will have a hard time growing at that high density you're imagining if they're being shaded by murky brown water. Of course these systems will have pretty big algae blooms, but usually these are biofilms growing attached to the walls of the system, close to the surface.
I cheat: I went to a pond and scooped up water and some of the bottom muck. Start with a viable ecosystem; in the tank it wobbles but then stabilizes; my experimental system ran for months with no adjustments.
At scale, I'd adopt a kind of evolutionary attitude, any tube that went bad would be flushed and replaced with a colony from a healthy tube. Combine that with a simple automated feedback system to help keep tubes in the optimal ranges and I think it would be pretty stable overall (depending on the failure rate of the tubes.)
If you have one seawater tank in your living room you're gonna have to paper and baby that thing. If you have thousands of simple robust ecosystems in tubes and some go bad you can just flush 'em. (And if you're worried about contaminates, chemical or biological, you can flush them through the MSO reactor. Those things are used to dispose of ordinance and chemical weapons. They really really break down molecules. Mad cow prions wouldn't make it through. Heck, you could toss the tube in there.)
Biofilms are fascinating! FWIW, in the experiment I ran the fish kept the inner surfaces of the tube pretty clear, I didn't have to do any scrubbing.
> If you feed the algae to other organisms, they're going to die and that carbon is going to turn into methane, which is 23 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2.
I want to experiment with feeding the algae to compost worms. These prefer just-slightly-decayed plant matter so I am thinking they would gobble up the algae as it died. Basically, you'd drain half the water in a tube directly into one end of a worm bed. The bed filters the algae out of water which also picks up nutrients. Some of the outflow would be put back into the tubes directly; the rest would be distilled to make a high grade fertilizer and the excess water condensed and returned to the tubes.
(The worms also eat their own dead. Gruesome, but it speaks to your point about turning into methane.)
> There's also the matter of growing algae in tubes made of petroleum plastic. How much carbon went into mining & processing the petroleum, manufacturing your tubes, and transporting them out to where your facility is, 100 miles from the nearest Starbucks? How long will it take you to pay off that carbon debt? (If there's a biobased alternative I'd love to hear about it.)
Well, bioplastic. I'm also looking at drying out the algae in sheets and using [some kind of] glue to bond them into a membrane, as opposed to going through a chemical process to convert them into plastic. Once you've got sheets and glue you can build your structures out of inflatables. 
> But there are solutions as well as problems. Aquaponic systems don't have to be directly coupled, for instance. And those biofilms are much denser than planktonic growth (ie tubes). My main "research" area (calling me a researcher would be too generous) is attached growth cultivation systems, for a lot of these same reasons. Pyrolysis can be used to turn the carbon into a biochar with very low bioavailability, solving the issue with methane.
I hadn't heard of "attached growth cultivation systems" specifically but they make a lot of sense. Just skimming the wikipedia article I think I can see a lot of low-hanging fruit in terms of efficiency gains.
Are you aware of the "Living Machine" stuff?
> Living Machine is a trademark and brand name for a patented form of ecological sewage treatment designed to mimic the cleansing functions of wetlands. ... the latest generation of the technology is based on fixed-film ecology and the ecological processes of a natural tidal wetland, one of nature’s most productive ecosystems.
To me biochar seems like a very exciting path for CO2 sequestration. Not so much on the ocean for obvious reasons, but if I had any land at all I would be trying it out.
> Just to clarify, bubbling doesn't maximize growth as much as keep the algae alive. Keeping high-density algae well mixed does ensure that everyone gets their turn to be in the sun.
Yeah, you explained it better than I did. Cheers. :-)
> But algae can't survive in an anoxic environment, and without aeration a tall column of water will quickly become anoxic. The algae on the bottom will rot and you're back to converting CO2 into methane (which, in most systems, would come right out of the top of the tube). Additionally, aeration provides CO2; no CO2 would mean no photosynthesis.
Well again, my ideas are developing in the context of a system that would have lots of CO2 already bubbling through a water column anyway.  If the bubbles are failing I've got bigger problems.
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vortex_tube solid state; separates a presurized flow of air nito hot and cold portions. I suspect it has applications in separating gas mixtures.
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molten_salt_oxidation MSO converts plastic to a mixture of H2 and CO; run that through a water column and you get CO + H2O -> CO2 + H2; so now you have a bunch of hydrogen and carbon dioxide. Run that through a vortex tube to separate the gasses, send the H2 to fuel cells and the CO2 to the algae tubes... Where there used to be oceanic plastic trash there is now power and biomass.
Regarding your experiment with the fish, I suspect this is a difference in your environment, as you alluded to. I'm out here in the desert, and it is sunny and it is hot, and if you're maintaining a low evaporation rate there's no where for that heat to go. Algae don't usually mind though. If you deploy a tube out here it'll only be so long until it gets warped and won't accept a pig (basically a plug that moves along a pipeline & cleans the sides), so I'm very interested in this idea of having the fish clean the tube. But I suspect that the same technique would go belly-up for me, pun fully intended.
I completely agree with your evolutionary approach and with using ecosystems that are already functioning. I did the desert equivalent and found my attached growth culture under a rock.
I was not aware of Living Machine but thanks for pointing it out. I think a lot about a similar concept called Algae Turf Scrubbers (http://algalturfscrubber.com/) (also trademarked), which mimic coral reefs.
You clearly have put a lot of thought into this so I hope I'm not rehashing ideas you've already dismissed, but here it goes.
You may want to consider using fungi. They are the matchless experts in breaking down toxic material, and my inkling is that they will be the ones to crack the problem of digesting plastics. Some organisms have started to do this already. Fungi have the ability to learn and adapt as individuals, so they're more friendly to this sort of engineering than most complex lifeforms. Microalgae are of course fantastic because they evolve on human timescales.
Keep in mind that plastics aren't really pure hydrocarbons. It would be very nice if they were. But they'll come with paints and stabilizers and such, and you'll end up with heavy metals and other contamination (I won't pretend to understand the intricacies here). If this ends up in your biomass then it cannot be used for agriculture. Dirty biomass is usually fine for fuel production, however. I'm sure you've thought of this though and that I would see your reasoning if I understood MSO reactors better. What happens to this waste when it leaves your reactor is another big question.
Gas separation is hard. You might consider separating the nitrogen and calling that good. The more conventional approach would be to use a pressure swing absorber but I'm taking the impression you want to use your vortex tube for cooling as well as separation. I've never tried pumping pure CO2 through an algae culture, but I believe it will become toxic at some concentration.
Rather than feeding it to worms, you might consider an anaerobic digester. You'll still produce fertilizer but you'll also be able to capture methane, which you can blend with your H2 and send to a generator instead of a fuel cell. While they have the same problems with shading as aquaponic systems, AD effluents are a very good fertilization ratio for algae. (I'm remembering a lecture here so I don't have a source to cite & don't recall the ratio, I'm afraid.) Another advantage is that they can accept wet biomass, and harvesting is often the most expensive part of the process. The methane could be blended with hydrogen and fed into an off-the-shelf natural gas generator. But I imagine that you did choose fuel cells for a reason. My personal view is that developing technologies are expensive in terms of liability, and that you can only pick a few of them. So if I were you I wouldn't put fuel cells and a novel approach to gas separation in the same design. Of course methane can be converted to hydrogen through steam reformation, or it can also be used in a fuel cell. Maybe you can even put them in the same fuel cell, I don't understand this technology whatsoever.
I've also got some more open ended questions you might find interesting to think about.
Are you planning to do this on a barge or derrick? How will your process effect the chemistry of the ocean around you? How will that effect the marine life around you?
If you're concentrating metal contamination and taking water in from the ocean, can you recovery dissolved metals? Perhaps you can combine this with desalination?
Is there a way your project can help with ocean acidification?
This talk seems to paper over a lot of problems with this system (its one of those "CO2 to methane" systems), as a TED talk does, but it's an interesting idea & related to your problem space.
You're probably aware but some people are producing hydrogen from algae. Could enhance your yield.
At that price, to offset humanity's annual 36 Gt CO2 emissions (36 billion tons) we'd need to spend about $3.2 trillion. Per year.
Surely the cost of reducing CO2 emissions - the cost of upgrading emissions sources to alternative, lower-carbon technologies - is much less than $94/ton. And that's where we should be focusing our efforts and funding for the foreseeable future.
They could use the money they made from the fuel to speed up R&D on the extraction process.
I'm the YC partner who wrote the RFS and have been pushing this. I also went to the first conference of Negative Emissions in world (I think) in Gothenburg, Sweden last month.
It's clear that much of what is needed for this to work is coming together 1) Research on underground storage is in a great place 2) Climeworks and Carbon engineering + Klaus Lackner are the pioneering companies/researchers working on Direct-Air-capture and they've shown the technology works. 3) California recently/are currently implementing legislation that will allow companies up to $180 per ton carbon removed and sequestered. This should be more than enough to build a business doing this at scale. 4) Perhaps the most important timing question is the fast drop in energy costs driven by solar. Energy is the number once scaling cost-factor if you want to scale this up to have a material impact on the climate. Solar is the obvious choice here since there is barely any scaling costs once installed. California incentives also allows you place your installations anywhere in the world. Mojave desert would be a good place.
What is needed right now is you guys. We need entrepreneurs and founders who want to start companies building both Direct-Air-Capture technology and sequestration technologies. I've met many investors over the last 6 months are looking actively to invest in these projects.
If you are working on these technologies you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Two other great resources here are
I'm convinced that whoever will build the most cost-effective way to remove carbon from the air will both have a shot at a $100B+ market while saving the earth at the same time. What could be more motivating?
I've done some crude experiments and "back-of-the-envelope" calculations and I think there's "something there". FWIW)
We're not picking technologies at this point since no-one really knows. Personally, I'm more excited about Direct-air-capture than I am about bio-energy with carbon capture for a bunch of reasons. Storing carbon in oceans is also interesting. Whatever path we see as a truly scalable way (like, can you 10000x your prototype and get costs benefits for example)
I started looking at algae as a way to convert oceanic plastic garbage to something organic.
You can use Molten Salt Oxidation  to convert plastic to "synthesis gas"  then feed that through a water column to convert CO+H2O to CO2+H2, then recover the hydrogen for power and feed the carbon dioxide to algae tanks.
I was going to try feeding the algae to e.g. eisenia foetida compost worms  to make soil and then grow whatever in that. The basic idea was to turn oceanic plastic into biomass.
But then I learned that you can make plastic out of algae. In order to be able to scale the system (without capital) it should be designed to produce as much of its own structure (like a "reprap" self-replicating machine) as possible. The limiting factors should be CPUs and magnets (for motors.)
But this is predicated on being isolated in the middle of the ocean and not having access to capital. I can't evaluate the optimal way of using this stuff in the context of being close to the rest of the economy and with capital, as there are too many variables and I'm kind of ignorant and stupid. (In other words, in a hypothetical universe where someone gave me a big pile of money to try this, the first thing I would do is recuse myself in favor of someone who actually knew what they were doing.)
 An exothermic reaction https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molten_salt_oxidation
 "fuel gas mixture consisting primarily of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and very often some carbon dioxide" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthesis_gas
I mean it's great if it works and all. I just feel like the real solution doesn't look like this.
Taking Oxygen from our atmosphere (the gas we need to breathe) and pump it underground after we've combined it with Carbon seems like an atrociously bad idea.
Taking CO2 out is only half the battle. We're going to need that oxygen. Pumping it into greenhouses seems better, but not very cost effective: You need to build these machines, then build the greenhouses, then transport tonnes of CO2 to the greenhouses... Seems much more cost effective to build windmills, solar arrays and the like!
This is about the apparent work of a Finnish researcher to come up with a scalable way to produce fuel from air such that it can be done locally. Think gas stations producing their own gas. Right now this would be relatively expensive because of energy cost but as those drop and the technology is improved, that cost can go down.
Stuff like this not surprising for anyone that has followed news around renewables lately and a very cool side effect of the fact that renewable energy prices have been dropping exponentially for quite some time now combined with the fact that the cost of lots interesting chemical processes are primarily driven by how much energy is required. As energy becomes cheaper, those chemical processes become more feasible and the demand for more energy causes people to invest in making that cheaper further. The same economic dynamic that is causing us to destroy our planet is also producing the solutions for saving it.
For example, producing clean water is a trivial process if you have cheap energy. This is why desalination plants are popping up in lots of places where clean water is scarce and they tend to be paired with wind/solar plants. You can also produce fuels out of water and the resulting fuels, whether it is hydrogen or hydrogen peroxide, are useful ways of storing energy.
Oil is a scarce resource that is hard to procure and therefore relatively expensive. If there's an energy intensive way to produce oil from CO2, that's great news because that means it's just a matter of time before the price of that energy drops enough to make that worthwhile.
Things like this can go from being too expensive to only slightly more expensive to being magnitudes cheaper in the near future.
What I love about this is that climate change can be countered with simple economics rather than idealism. Once we stop pumping new co2 in the atmosphere for cost reasons because we found a more cost effective way to just suck it from the atmosphere, nature will do it's thing and help us revert the effects of the past centuries. We don't actually need to actively clean up the atmosphere, our planet is fully capable of doing that by itself given enough time.
Also worth pointing out that oil is used for more than just fuel. So, stuff like this is relevant even if we switch to electric vehicles. We still need to produce plastics and other materials. All of that can in principle be done with co2 harvested straight from the air as well.
It will result in encouraging more pollution and removing all safeguards(clean coal? we'll clean it up later!)
towards a new industry whose main interest would be preserving pollution forever to profit from cleaning it up.
Like a pharmaceutical industry, the symptoms are more profitable than curing the disease completely.
I'm not convinced there is a causal relationship between human activity and CO2 levels or average temperatures (ignoring urban heat island and similar effects). Sure there is a correlation, but we all know what that means. The kind of atmospheric engineering that scares me is exactly the tool that would be required to show a causal relationship.
Another point of concern is that none of the doom and gloom predictions are made by any climate model. All a climate model can do is make predictions about, well, climate. It takes an economic or some other sociological model to predict how that change in climate will affect human beings and societies, and what the costs (and benefits!) will be. Even if you trust the climate models 100% you'd be a fool to trust the economic or sociological models. How can one rationally justify an intervention is worth the cost when one can't know the cost of what is being prevented?
Have you considered taking a skeptical approach, and looking at the arguments that you disagree with a prior? I suspect that once you do, you will be more than convinced about, e.g. humans having increased CO2 levels. If you are not convinced of even that basic fact after looking at the evidence, I would suggest that there is not evidence at all that could change your mind. I.e. this is a religious or political conviction rather than an evidence based belief.
The idea that CO2 level rises is not due to human activity is as far out there as saying you've invented a perpetual motion machine. Honestly.
Maybe human activity is responsible for the increase in CO2. I don't deny that. They are correlated. I accept that. But maybe there is a third variable or combination of variables that is driving CO2 levels? Is that really so unreasonable. It seems awfully anthropocentric and, honestly, arrogant, to assume that human activity is the only thing that affects atmospheric composition. Perhaps you should take your own advice?
> The idea that CO2 level rises is not due to human activity is as far out there as saying you've invented a perpetual motion machine. Honestly.
No it isn't. Also, I never positively stated that it isn't.
Go get some equipment and stand behind a car's tailpipe sometime and you'll clear up any confusion that humans are releasing CO2... That's a really bizarre thing to be hung up on. The standard skeptic line is that the CO2 isn't a big deal, not that we're not releasing loads of it.
> Human beings have been releasing CO2 for a lot longer than the Otto cycle has been around
When there were a lot fewer human beings and each individual released far less CO2. Industrialisation has brought leverage to our use of carbon, and the rate of change has become unprecedented.
> The Earth had far higher CO2 concentrations in the past
...and has also had sea levels a hundred feet or more higher than today. Which would do what to our major cities?
Do we wait for our cities to start being lost and the outside air to feel stuffy all the time before we take this remotely seriously? Or perhaps just wait until there's immediate and catastrophic danger? (ie when it's too late to do anything about)
> human behavior is not the only possible cause of net changes in atmospheric composition
I don't believe anyone would seriously claim that, but that humanity has added to the numerous existing sources. There are now enough humans using enough carbon through vehicles, heat, light, consumer goods and all the other things of development that the ecosystem can't simply squelch the results of human activity any more. We're seeing it in a whole range of areas outside of CO2, like loss of habitats and species etc.
On a long enough timeline you're right that there is nothing we can do because among other things the Sun is going to explode, but that's a phenomenally stupid reason to suggest we shouldn't manage greenhouse gasses responsibly. Humans live on a very short timeline, but we're producing effects better fit for a geological scale timeline.
For example, then you wouldn't be saying silly things like you're not sure that CO2 rose is not the direct causal consequence of human activity.
I'm not saying this for my own benefit, I'm saying it for yours. If I encountered a person in real life who said that I would say much harsher things to the persons face than I am now, because I can't see you face to face I want to try to be more reserved in my approbation.
Doubting basic science while not bothering to research the reasons that it's accepted science is exactly like believeing in the invention of perpetual motion machines in that it requires first not doing basic homework then thinking that one is much cleverer than everyone else.
This is not being skeptical, it's being lazy.
That said, I'm also being lazy too, because it's very hard to spoon feed basic science to those who don't want to learn it. I guess I was hoping to motivate you to take an interest in researching scientific subjects that you are willing to express uninformed opinions on, but I will accept that I have failed after your last response.
Climate models are fancy regression fits to low quality data. We know the raw data is low quality because it requires intense amounts of adjustment before the model makers can use it.
You have correctly assessed your ability at persuasion.
I see. It's really inconvenient that all this additional CO2 is just megatons of identical molecules and comes without any discernible label that might tell where it came from......
...except that they actually do! Because photosynthesis favors the lighter C12 atom over C13, all plant material (and hence, all animal material, and all fossil fuel) have slightly lower concentration of C13, compared to other non-biological source of carbon (say, volcanic gas). If the increase in atmospheric CO2 is actually due to fossil fuels, we must witness a drop in the ratio of C13. And that's exactly what we see!
Are you going to write a book called "If I Did It" next? You literally just said "No it isn't"
Edit: also, there aren't scientific claims that the Earth is going to be destroyed. Our current biosphere is going to be royally fucked up, and humans are dependent on that because we are adapted to it. Climate change will lead to massive societal problems from just food production changing in output rapdily as arable areas move and fresh water sources change their locations, not to mention weather events like sea rising over coastal cities and 100 year storms showing up every few years.
Even if we agree with your position that this issue is not man made, why wouldn't we try to stop the change? It's objectively bad for human societies
I believe the "no it isn't" is meant at the comparison, not at the original question.
You can read there reports here: http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/publications_and_da...
The thing is, the more research I did, the more I realised the sheer size of the problem and complexity. There is no quick fix, we need multiple solutions and they should be interdisciplinary (we are lacking interdisciplinary solutions).
Also the more research I did, the more I realised, at this moment, carbon dioxide pollution is THE biggest current threat to the existence of humanity.
I still think we can solve it, for example renewable are well on their way, and I think that we will also solve the energy-storage problem in the next decade.
However we don't have any practical/profitable solutions for carbon storage at scale.
If you have specific questions or you want different sources I'd be happy to help. Also, if you feel like your opinion has changed/or not after research, please enlighten other people in a constructive way. But of course, do your own research :).
Yes I agree Earth, and indeed life will do well on planet earth for a long time despite climate change.
Humans on the other hand...
A thing that blew my mind a few months ago...
Next time you feel you need to open windows in your apartment to get some fresh air in, it means indoor co2 is probably somewhere between 800 and 1200.
If you open all the windows to the max, or go outside, co2 ppm will lower to ~400ppm. You can't go any lower than that, and there are no air cleaners that can push it lower. This is the absolute minimum.
When your parents were young, opening windows meant bringing co2 to 350ppm.
When your grand-grand parents were young, and when old-time poets wrote about fresh air, for them it was 200ppm. Neither you or I experienced it, nor possibly ever will (without attaching ourselves to an oxygen tank).
Even if we manage to right the wrong with the current climate situation before the oceans rise 200 feet we will still, over the millennia, face climate trends we would like to correct for. Climate engineering is in our future regardless.
If you still think that humans are not the cause, well…
What puzzles me is the "climate advocates" pressing for such environmental engineering show little interest in changing their own behavior - say, more concerned about grandiose systems for removing CO2 rather than personally eradicating CO2 production from their own lifestyles (and I mean >90% reduction, not mere virtue-signaling). It takes an interest in personally influencing society & economy, putting their money where their mouth is, creating a demand for alternatives and normalizing society's [non-]production levels.
Compelling vastly impactful & ill-understood (and expensive) schemes, which a lot of smart people disagree with, is dangerous when serving largely as a counter to that which even "advocates" are unwilling to do themselves.
Be the change.
Particularly odd when someone like me is doing more to "save the earth" on a personal level than most "advocates".
Why does that puzzle you? That's pretty common among humans (e.g. I've had multiple smokers trying to convince me not to start smoking). Changing one's habits is hard, even if one is convinced it should be done.