It will always be cheaper to prevent creation of CO2 (burning fossil fuels) than to catch CO2 back from the atmosphere.
So, the first thing we need to do is to move to completely carbon emission free technology of energy production. Then we can perhaps produce more than we need (e.g. in the peaks) and can start thinking about catching some CO2 back from the atmosphere to reverse the climate changes.
Unfortunately, there is not even global consensus on getting to zero emissions. In this situation, I can't imagine how there can be a consensus on doing something (like utilizing this technology) on the mass scale that helps to save the environment for free.
If this technology really does get down to $94/ton, then a $100/ton price on carbon emissions is likely to give it a role. People can reduce emissions whenever it costs less than $94/ton to do so, and if it costs more, they could pay for absorption instead.
$100/ton CO2 would raise the price of gasoline by a dollar a gallon, which doesn't seem all that unattainable, especially if the collected funds are redistributed as a dividend.
Even at $100 a ton, you're talking a few hundred of dollars of price increases to offset damages. This probably reduces the number of people flying which of course raise the per capita damage and therefore cost even more.
Airlines are only profitable if they fly at high load factors. If price increases reduce the number of passengers flying, the airlines will try to fly fewer planes that are just as full as today. Thus the per passenger cost is the same.
(... based on a consulting project I did 20 years ago on airline network economics/route capacity optimization)
I need to check that number... according to https://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/co2-emission-fuels-d_1085..., there is 9.20 kg CO2 released per gallon gasoline. So a dollar per gallon would be $100 per 920 kgCO2, close enough to a metric ton. OK :-)
Some of that would be mitigated, but it’s probably closer to 1.30$ vs 1$ a gallon.
I am not sure if you want to capture carbon or just CO2. If you want just to capture CO2, that's a different consideration but there is AFAIK no scalable technology that can store CO2 reliably.
So what you need to do is to actually break the C-O bonds in CO2, which is very energy expensive.
In theory you could burn methane (natural gas) or other hydrocarbon in system (airplane) A, producing more energy than needed by system (factory) B, which would recapture carbon from the air and convert it to pure carbon. That way, you would produce net energy by burning hydrogen into water (methane and carbon, respectively, are the most efficient choices for this).
Somebody can calculate it precisely based on the enthalpy, I am sure, but it seems to me that the both systems together would have to be at least 40% efficient (that is the product of their energy efficiencies would have to be that) for this to be energy positive. I don't think anybody has demonstrated this level of efficiency yet, and it might well be impossible (if we also consider the dispersal of CO2 in the atmosphere, as somebody else has noted).
Assuming this is possible (unlikely), in practice this would also require the operator of the system A to pay (at least) the cost of energy used by the operator of system B for the recaptured carbon. And this can be a practical problem, because people cheat in various ways and they would probably lobby to pay less at the expense of the environment. It seems much more transparent solution is just to forbid drilling for hydrocarbons outright.
That's why one should be careful about using dollars for these calculations. All externalities are rarely counted in costs. It is easy to fool yourself or other humans this way, however, the nature cannot be fooled.
(24 metric tons * $550/metric ton) / 12 months = $1,110 per month.
That's $1,100 for raw CO2. Once you factor in CO2 => fuel, then transport, delivery, etc. your cost is dramatically higher.
Suppose scale could help and the entire process were $1,110 per month. For for most of us, that's still much more than we pay each month in electricity + gas.
Can we all agree that 16.5 tons per person is an absurdly large amount of CO2?
I’m a 90 minute walk from the nearest bus station, I work from home luckily (and have no license either) but my wife has to drive literally everywhere. We bought a used 2006 Prius now almost four years ago, so we’ve reduced our emissions as much as is feasible for now - but we still use roughly 300 gallons of fuel a year at 40MPG average.
We should be doing both in parallel. The article talks about this:
"Last year’s I.P.C.C. report noted that it may be impossible to limit warming to 1.5 degrees by 2100 through only a rapid switch to clean energy, electric cars and the like. To preserve a livable environment we may also need to extract CO₂ from the atmosphere. As Wurzbacher put it, “if you take all these numbers from the I.P.C.C., you end up with something like eight to 10 billion tons — gigatons — of CO₂ that need to be removed from the air every year, if we are serious about 1.5 or 2 degrees.” "
It is only given that carbon industry got us to ignore the dangers for more than thirty years that we now are so desperate to keep inside the carbon budget that even very inefficient solutions like carbon capture are seriously being considered.
I agree we should have moved earlier, and we should be moving faster though.
Exxon's senior scientist, 1978.
"Victory will be achieved when: (a)Average citizens "understand" (recognize) uncertainties in climate science; recognition of uncertainties becomes part of the "conventional wisdom" ... (e) Those promoting the Kyoto treaty on the basis of extant science appear out of touch with reality" (American Petroleum Institute memo, 1998)
“Doubt is our product, since it is the best means
of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the minds of the general public” (B&W tobacco company 1969).
The parent was talking about the precautionary principle. Im not really old enough to remember the 1980s global warming debate, so not agreeing or disagreeing with the factuality of that statement. Yes your first quote is damning, are you saying the science was more settled?
The NYT published a good history of how settled the science was, but I'm going to link to a response to it: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/08/nyt-mag-...
This is a problem with how the media reports science, not science itself. It's why so many people believe that scientists thought we were going to have an ice age 30 years ago: awful reporting.
And back then, the upheaval wouldn't have been nearly as massive. There was less 'wealth' (read as 'carbon usage') and fewer people. It's a real pity.
If a study does show a link then you repeat it, get more data, work out the extent of the problem. Then you have the info to make decent public policy.
And banning smoking something that's fairly easy to do, that isn't spending billions of $s of public funds, telling people they can't fly,drive,eat meat. And we still havent banned smoking.
Hint: We're not.
The Americans are expecting +4C https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/trump...
There's no point in extracting 1 ton of CO2 and putting 2 tons of CO2 back up there.
It is important that we think about lowering emissions first and foremost. Thinking "ah well, let's continue as usual, we'll fix it sometime later with <insert unproven technology>" is hella dangerous and most likely won't work:
We're fucking with a planetary climate system powered by the sun after all. The forces and scales at work there easily escape one's imagination...
When you capture CO2, what you can make? Some liquid like oil or gas that can be burn. Some solid like coal that can be burn. Some rock like limestone or marble that is more expensive than the natural one. You can't sell the products.
A big chunk of the man made CO2 is in power plants. It's not a good idea to burn oil to produce energy and CO2, and then use a bigger amount of energy to transform the CO2 into something that is easy to store like oil.
Perhaps you can use less energy to transform the CO2 into something like coal instead of oil, but in this case it would more efficient to make a new type of power plant that transform oil into a coal like product.
(Essentially burn the Hydrogen in the oil and keep the Carbons alone. I'm not sure if this is thermodynamically posible, but IIRC the C-H bound has more energy that the C-C bound. And even if this is possible, there are the technological problems.)
Carbon Capture - like every single other measure - won't save the climate alone but it can be a useful element in those situations where there is so much solar/wind in the grid that you need some extra consumers to not waste it. Research in that area definitely is useful, in the end it will come down to the actual prices they can achieve in reality.
This is scientific fact BTW.
I’ll go further than that: If we erased humanity and all we have built from planet earth on Monday —Captain Kirk beams everything into space and we all die— it would still be 50,000 to 75,000 years before CO2 levels drop by 100 ppm.
Again, scientific facts. No doubt at all that what I just said is true. Irrefutable.
In this very real context the only solutions will be found in technology that can consume CO2 in large quantities and hold on to it for as long as possible.
Here’s another scientific truth: We already have this technology. It is easy to deploy world-wide and we know it to be effective.
Even with that, this is a problem that will require generations to resolve; with a time scale in the thousands of years being likely.
This is an issue that has been politicized so far —on both ends of the belief scale— that most everyone is focusing on nonsense politically-driven non-solutions rather than having true science-based conversations.
Taking this as to be my factual basis it is very easy to see what the planet has done and will do without humanity being around to muck things up. In rough strokes, atmospheric CO2 accumulates at a rate of about 100 ppm per 25,000 years and is reduced at a rate of, again, roughly, 100 ppm per 50,000 to 75,000 years.
This forms the basis of my assertion that erasing the entirety of humanity, our buildings and toys would only result in a 100 ppm reduction in 50K to 75K years. In other words, as far as a human scale is concerned, this might as well be forever. We might not even exist in 75,000 years.
The only way this assertion could be refuted is if someone is able to prove there is a way to take a planet-scale system and accelerate it's natural rate of atmospheric CO2 accumulation decay from 100 ppm per 75K years to something fast enough to be of practical significance to humanity.
Well, I suppose the other way to refute it would be to prove that our ice core sample data is fake or flawed in some manner. That will not happen. This quality and veracity of this data is well supported in the literature and accepted to be extremely accurate.
Without even attempting any math at all we can say the amount of energy required to accelerate planetary-scale effects from 100 ppm/75K years to, say, 100 ppm/100 years is likely astronomical in scale. And that much energy is rarely without consequences.
Remember, if we evaporate from this planet nothing changes faster than 100 ppm/50K years at best. In order to prove de-industrializing and crippling entire nations and continents would have any merit at all someone has to prove the physics and chemistry that would deliver the desired 100 ppm change in atmospheric CO2 concentration massively faster than 50K to 75K years.
This is why I am really down on the entire Climate Change business. It's a political football. Deniers are crazy and so are proponents or believers (at least politicians). They things they are talking about doing are utterly pointless and would only serve to damage countries and societies.
I mean, let's say we absolutely erase the United States from the face of the planet. Why just try to go "green", let's completely erase the US from earth. What would that accomplish? Absolutely nothing. Atmospheric CO2 concentration would continue to rise exponentially at about the same rate. It certainly isn't going to go down at all. So, what are these proponents talking about? Well, nonsense, that's what they are talking about. It has become a political tool with religious undertones on both sides.
I also spoke of us already having a technology that could be brought to bear on this issue world wide with relative ease. The questions to ask when looking at ice core atmospheric sample data are:
1- What made CO2 concentration increase?
2- What made it decrease.
The answers are simple:
1- Fires. Massive continent-scale fires. No firemen and water dropping helicopters to stop them.
2- Weather and trees. Water precipitates CO2. So, hurricanes, cyclones, storms, rains are good. They "wash" the atmosphere. And over tens of thousands of years they'd chip away at the problem.
And trees, well, trees take CO2 and turn it into, well, trees! They are a fantastic bit of technology that only requires water and soil to work! And we know how to grow trees at scale!
So, instead of a lot of the nonsense being floated out there what we have to do is:
1- Control or stop deforestation. This is terrible for the planet.
2- Plant trees like our lives depend on it. All of these lawns in front of homes in a city like Los Angeles are almost criminal when you consider they do nothing but waste water and require a guy with a gasoline powered mower and blower to maintain every week. We need to seriously consider changing the culture to plant a couple of trees in front of every home of every city wherever possible. Our cities need to look like forests to the extent possible. And there you go, CO2 sequestration using the very same technology the planet has probably used for millions of years to achieve the same kind of balance.
Anyhow, that's my humble opinion.
Maybe. But the politics could be totally different. Scrubbing would not be perceived as suppressing the activities of an existing industry. Hopefully, therefore, huge sectors of the existing economy would not mobilize against it the way they have against proposals to suppress CO2 output.
Paying people to spread misinformation that maintains controversy and doubt (e.g. https://cei.org/ , who also helped maintain doubt surrounding the link between smoking and cancer) is far cheaper than the reckoning that could eventually result from admitting that carbon is a problem.
I would guess that cost is much higher than they think.
The scale of CO2 emissions are hard to conceive. You see human heath effects in areas with poor ventilation from high CO2 levels, but as CO2 rises what constitutes poor ventilation changes. At current rates even ignoring climate changes old buildings will start to cause headaches from high CO2 levels. Buildings built at 275ppm are generally still fine at 400ppm, but that changes as you keep going.
In developing ones cities are typically wealthiest more -> CO2 emissions due to higher standard of living.
In first-world cities are more efficient.
I'm thinking European levels of rural, where food delivery is possible, don't know if it would be doable at US rural levels though.
Pets do contribute surprisingly a lot of CO2 when you add them up, based on their meat consumption. But it's less than what a human would consume in meat and especially a lot less when you add how much humans transport themselves around.
For many people, pets are family. How do they contribute more co2 than most people, anyway, when they rarely drive?
And they might not drive but a lot of owners like to drive some where to 'walk' their dog. Although considering the levels of obesity, that the exercise might be a net benefit.
Now I don't think dogs or cats cause anything like as much co2 as humans, but it is significant, and given the scale of reductions in co2 required, I think we are probably going to get to a point where large pet ownership is at least questioned.
My dog only sticks around because I feed it. But then that's the same for my partner.
I suppose you could say its some kind of need for companionship? For me and my partner that's evolutionarily good for raising our spawn. But my dog has been genetically bred for 1000s of years for our purposes, maybe for a dog, it's unnatural to love, and a form of genetic enslavement? Maybe they've just learnt they get rewarded when they show 'love'.
Of course theres also the chance that you're anthropomorphising an animal.
There are ways to have a symbiotic relationship with another animal without strict verbal communication. Maybe you just haven't taken the time to learn about your animal and the things that make it unique and worth loving. Because it might already be doing that about you.
I know I wake up every morning to my cat purring on my face and nestling into me and she starts purring the moment I pick her up. She's not sticking around for table scraps.
I used to own rats. If you want to really learn just how emotionally intelligent pets can be, get a pair of those. Some of the most social creatures you'll ever meet.
Why ? Where does this comes from ?
Edit: one barrel of oil produces 0.43 metric tons CO2 and costs about $60. Therefore, if your price of CO2 capture is more than $140/ton, it's cheaper to "capture" the CO2 by buying a barrel of oil and "sequestering" it as you would the CO2. So if carbon capture prices are more than about $150 it would be a viable business to operate a "reverse oilfield" buying oil on the open market and pumping it underground.
It's valid to point out that the value of a barrel of oil is more than its cost and this gives rise to a "consumer surplus", which leads to the carbon tax arguments.
(Although, as Retric points out upthread, there are consequential CO2 side-effects from oil extraction more than just burning it, so maybe those should be counted too?)
So yeah, it's nice to have the technology to take CO2 from the air and create C and O2, however, the catch is, it requires energy. If that energy comes from fossil fuels, you will be better off not to do this thing at all, because you will end up creating a bit more CO2 in the process.
Now, if you've got excess generation for electricity, then at times of good generation, you want to use that electricity for something, as otherwise the electricity price will be negative. Using it to produce synthetic fuels for aviation seems like a really good match, as that electricity would be effectively free.
Except that you don't have to do the exact reverse of the process, you just have to extract it from the atmosphere (or emission point) and contain it somehow, which could be any number of mechanisms that may or may not require significant energy (beyond the cost of distillation).
Edit: Your argument is like saying that garbage collection (in the municipal sense) can never be economical because because it has to cost at least as much as making the products-to-be-disposed.
If you take concentrated oxygen and concentrated carbon (soot), you can burn them in a sealed chamber into pure CO2. If you are very careful about extracting the energy, you might get most of it.
But already the entropy has increased, because now the carbon and oxygen have mixed together. Attempting to reverse the reaction will need extra energy to deal with that.
It gets much worse though, if you open up our chamber and vent the gas into the atmosphere. The entropy goes through the roof as the CO2 concentration drops to a few hundred PPM, and the cost of reversing the reaction goes up even more.
What I do like about it is that it quantifies how much it costs to recover the CO2, which is useful in calculating externalities. For example, there was recently a Canadian court ruling that bankrupt oil firms first need to fund well cleanup before creditors... to which reddit joked how progressive such a concept is. No, a 'progressive' statement is that we need to calculate how much it would cost to pull all the CO2 that was generated by using the oil as fuel and finance that as well, before creditors are paid...
In Europe at least these are things we can do without extra costs by just changing the farm subsidies so they encourage good behaviour. Just as we can do the same my moving fuel subsidies away from fossil to renewables.
That said if you get to make people walk into places to produce carbon sequestration areas/devices instead of burning fuel .. you'd get squared returns
maybe he's right about co2 capture but be dubious
If it gets to (for example) a point where capturing carbon uses less energy than burning the same amount of carbon fuel releases... it's at least theoretically useful. At that point it's about costs.
Otherwise... Say we get to 0 emissions by 2035. There will be (is) already a troublesome amount of carbon in the atmosphere. We might have to do some carbon capture even if we're not releasing new carbon.
Not allowed by thermodynamics. Otherwise you could create free energy by continuously burning and recapturing the same carbon.
That doesn't have to be the case; the carbon you capture may not be in a burnable form. E.g. if carbon dioxide were captured, additional energy would be required to split off the oxygen before the carbon could be 'burned' again.
Sorry, that's forbidden by the laws of physics.
The problem is we are literally digging carbon out of the ground and putting it into the atmosphere, thereby increasing the amount of atmospheric carbon over time.
As but one factor, dying plants would release CO2. The total amount of carbon in the atmosphere is (was) at equilibrium.
For a somewhat similar scenario, you can read about the Carboniferous period https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carboniferous . Essentially, the plants invented the wood but nobody know how to eat it, so the dead plants accumulated sequestering a lot of CO2. So the CO2 concentration dropped and the O2 concentration skyrocket. As a side effect, the high O2 concentration allowed bugs to became giant. (It ended when fungus learned how to eat wood.)
 And all the other animal, fungus and even plants. And also bacteria and archaea.
I’m very interested when a statement right off the bat throws out that we should completely and unquestionably stop using hydrocarbons which are the most efficient, portable, easy to use and safe source of energy we have ever seen. Not to mention it’s current absolute requirement in long range transport, making plastics, lubricants and production of composites that make the efficient renewable powered machines possible.
How is it some people get a pass on willfully ignoring reality just because the goal is reducing emissions?
So on the topic, you better hope recovering CO2 is efficient because we won’t stop using oil until it’s gone.
> making plastics, lubricants and production of composites
These don't put CO2 into the atmosphere until they are burned. Also given sufficient energy input they could also be outputs of a capture process...
There's a ton of anecdotal (e.g. ) and some scientific  evidence that elevated CO2 levels has negative mental effects. If you could prove this effect and make office workers 1% more effective that would be worth millions to a company like Google, before you consider the advertising, recruiting, tax credit, etc advantages.
PS. I think this is the most dystopian business idea I've ever had.
 This seems to be a good survey paper. Download button at top right doesn't require a login https://www.researchgate.net/publication/311844520_Carbon_di...
That's what I'm working on! Get people who care to take personal responsibility for their own travel. It is just $2-4 dollars a week - a tiny sum for people who fly frequently. In beta for iOS now if you are interested in giving it a shot: https://www.producthunt.com/upcoming/pledge-balance
An independent app has the benefit of not being stuck with just this Climeworks best case $100/ton direct air capture. Soils and grasslands seem to be a low hanging fruit closer to $10/ton.
The tough part about a problem of massive scale is no solution is good enough. So you sit around debating a global carbon tax for decades while attacking any other effort that is an incremental approach?
And yet still only 2% of the population is vegan.
I don't suppose it will work if we just leave this to the people who care. Most people do care, but enough to sacrifice their comfort.
It is a much smaller ask to opt into paying 5 cents more for a burger to offset. But with travel the connection to emissions is more obvious and wealthy people have a larger share (a rich person doesn't eat 10x more steak than average, but does fly 10x more).
If being a vegan is hard, use condiments! Don't be a vegan, just eat way less meat (especially red) and stuff made with palm oil which would both benefit both the climate and your health. Actually the heck with the planet, heart disease will take your number faster than climate change.
"By 2020, 90% of Ford’s North American sales will consist of larger vehicles with lower fuel economy" Not buying an SUV that never leaves the pavement which rides on GIANT tires might also be something to consider in the personal choices category. If you really need to see above everyone else, install a periscope.
The other negative emissions technologies I've seen are biomass energy plus carbon capture and storage (BECCS). That involves using biomass for some energy purpose, say making ethanol or burning woods chips, and capturing and storing the resulting CO2.
Ricke et alia center their cost-of-carbon estimates at $417: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-018-0282-y . Climeworks is already very close.
"Still, greenhouses and soda bubbles together represent a small global market — perhaps six million metric tons of CO₂ annually."
Hmm... as they point out later on, this only starts to make a difference if they get the whole air-capture-to-hydrocarbons thing working, fuelled by surplus renewable energy, and there's a global moratorium or limitation on oil/gas exploration and drilling.
Secondly I've just become aware of how much e-bikes have come on, to the point that they could feasibly replace more and more journeys in future. Sadly in the UK the legislation lags behind the technology at present in that either you have a 250w/15.5 mph limited bike, or you have to go full blown motor vehicle registration with number plate, insurance, etc., whereas in Europe they recognise a third category between the two. Hoping this gets sorted out in future (no Brexit comments, please..).
In reality it’s fairly easy to deresrict these bikes, the only problem is most car drivers won’t expect you to be going so fast.
Not the only problem - if you get caught there's also possible prosecution, points on your driving license etc. What's doubly annoying is that even if you want to do the right thing and register your 1000w e-bike as a moped there are still barriers in the way, e.g. finding insurance, getting it MOT-d. Still another issue is that once it's registered as a moped it cannot be used on cycle paths etc. It really is ridiculous at present and the law needs updating.
But for mass-consumption, we already have motor-cycles and scooters that are like 2-4x more efficient than cars, but get relatively little use.
What will make ebikes different?
This is the most interesting part. The investors are oil companies. Perhaps they are just funding the story that there is no need for government to curtail or tax their activities, because DAC will be able to "reverse time" for us in the future? The article has already debunked this quite well, like the quote from Hal Harvey. But at the same time, these technologies are still pencilled in by the I.P.C.C. and of course, Chevron when they say they will abide by the Paris agreement but still increase their year-on-year output of fossil fuels.
Carbon Engineering does seem to get outsize coverage in the news. Hope sells better than despair, or the idea that we would actually need to change our lifestyles (fly much less, eat less meat, etc) to combat climate change.
Carbon Engineering is also based in Calgary, home to a lot of the O&G industry, but are not working on the thermodynamically easier problem - extracting CO2 from the pollution output of power plants, where it's 25% of the output instead of 0.04%.
I find it hard to believe that there is some sinister plot to do damage as long as possible to make the most money. Surely these people realize we are all doomed no matter the amount of money you have in the end? Or perhaps that's it... perhaps they know we are doomed and just want to live out their lives in the most comfort possible and buy whatever comfort money may afford for their children?
They got their start when they had figured out that PG&E (California's electric company) could meet their projected demand while saving money and reducing pollution by improving efficiency of existing infrastructure instead of building new power plants. They couldn't convince management to even look at the numbers. They had to sue them to get them to do something obvious that was in their own best interests. That's how gung ho the executives were to "build, baby build". It wasn't a conspiracy, it was just systemic cultural dumbness.
Consider coal, the poster child. Blaming the coal producing states might feel good, but it's not very effective. Personally, I prefer to have a shared global responsibility mindset because I too consume goods that are made in China, where ~50% of the coal is burned. How do I sleep at night? Quite well because I'm often exhausted from startup life + BJJ + kids :-)
As a citizen in a democratic country, if you want to affect change, policy seems to be the way to go. As far as environmental problems go in the US, the boundary between federal and state is not well defined and most recently the federal government seem content with letting the states take more of the burden. A few (humble) thought starters for US citizens would include:
A. Learn how much your state is burning and what your governor is doing about it
B. Find out about organizations and lobbying groups that align with your ideals
C. Vote with your money, and vote in the election
That said, there are some groups that are working on addressing scaling reforestation right now (and we are hiring engineers).
It’s also worth mentioning that rangeland vegetation can have a critical role to play. It doesn’t seems as obvious/flashy, but they tend to have an enormous root structure and can prevent state changes (e.g., desertification).
But meanwhile not far away from this site, all around Europe, power stations are burning mountains of coal. Surely its easier to stop that than scrubbing it.
That's leaving aside the fact that we won't, of course, but it's not physically or economically impossible.
If cheap, easy commercially viable fusion power was unveiled tomorrow I'd have hope that we could stop climate change in 10 years.
A real, cheap commercial way to remove carbon from the atmosphere in massive amounts could also stop it. I can't say that this company feels like they have that.
Thanks, I'm stealing that line. :)
So from that perceptive, it's nice to see that somebody is in fact working on inventing this technology. But it's not going to 'stop' climate change.
A more honest headline but less-catchy headline would be "Unproven technology might help us avoid our current path to worst-case climate scenarios"
> 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.
You should know however, that people who are 20-40 now will just about be hitting their senior years when things start to get really bad. If you're in that age range, do you think your retirement savings will be able to handle the increased costs of nearly everything - food, fuel, housing, medical care?
From what I understood, the troublesome area for CO2 in our atmosphere is in a level way above where we live and work, so we need scrubbing up there, not down here closer to the ocean.
We have deserts (California) with acre-feet of water pumped in to water almond trees, while we destroy freshwater aquifers. We burn dead dinosaurs and leave the toxic accumulants to hang out in atmo. We inject nasty carcinogens and then blow up the ground to salvage more oil. We dump all sorts of things in the ocean for 'someone else' to deal with.
Sure we individuals can do a few conservative things for ecology. But the bulk is the companies are allowed to leverage natural resources and the tragedy of the commons of the world to make a few more $$$. And these tiny companies with some carbon sequestration makes people feel good, but ultimately means that we buy a few more weeks, months, or perhaps years before we're completely fucked.
I would love the Earth resources to be considered and treated precious by all of us 8 billion humans, but that's clearly not the case. We in Europe have been organizing strikes for months, and we are not being listened. If I think about the USA, where politicians listen to their constituents even less, and the general opinion is just not concerned enough to VOTE for their president, much less get involved politically, I fall in despair. I cry. Then I just try to forget because I want to carry on.
What will you do? Are you getting involved with your local politicians? Are you doing a few conservative things for ecology? I just hope that you are doing more than writing critical comments on the internet.
I live in the US. Indiana. Our last governor was Mike Pence.
Our state is full of Republicans who wholly reject any idea of global warming or climate change. Fracking is cool and a good way to make money. Public institutions are a place to extort more money from students. Our state and national forests are places the Dept. of Natural Resources have deemed OK to sell old growth trees for $3 (2.6 euro - yes, pocket change)/tree. A law was passed 2 years ago banning communities from banning or putting fees on plastic bags.
Where I live cares nothing for ecology or environmentalism. The crony politicians only further their own private business interests. I do try to find city/county local politicians that care, but their hands are tied.
I also live with my wife and practice the 4 R's (Repair, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). But that meager effort only goes so far.
The electoral system we use now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7tWHJfhiyo
We can start introducing these to everyone at the state and local level to build momentum for electoral reform at the federal level.
A good old fashioned general strike until we get what we need from our "representatives".
Argh. Prices can't be cheap, NYT. They can be low.
"What Gebald and Wurzbacher really want to do is to pull vast amounts of CO₂ out of the atmosphere and bury it, forever, deep underground, and sell that service as an offset. Climeworks’s captured CO₂ has already been injected deep into rock formations beneath Iceland..."
Either way - progress that people are looking into these possibilities and that they are getting mainstream attention... let's hope we can as a society keep building on successes.
The carbon reaction goes like this: Carbon + Oxygen = CO2 + energy.
You can reverse it, like you can with any chemical reaction, like this: CO2 + energy = Carbon + Oxygen
This is all high school chemistry stuff. But the long and short is: To sequester carbon from the atmosphere requires at least as much energy as you got by burning the carbon in the first place.
That's why no scheme to unburn the carbon can ever work.
Also, "So far"? If you believe that we're ever going to break the conservation of mass and energy, you literally believe in magic.
You can burn carbon at one location, and unburn it elsewhere. For instance, you could burn it on planes, which benefit directly from fossil fuels' high energy density, and then unburn it in areas with surplus of solar or wind power, taking energy from renewable sources.
Here, no thermodynamics violated, and yet the system allows us to eat our cake (high-density energy storage) and eat it too (net zero carbon emissions).
Why? How does it follow from the previous sentence?
You're implicitly checking if energy is "lost", for some definition of energy loss. But that's not what's discussed here. Nobody's proposing a perpetuum mobile, we're just talking about environment. The question is, is it better to not burn in the first place or burn and then clean up? And the answer, perhaps surprisingly, is not obvious.