Monday, March 10, 2008

It Also Doesn't Work

David Keith and Thomas Homer-Dixon argue in last weekend's Globe Essay that environmentalists oppose carbon sequestration schemes because:

1) Environmentalists are gambling that we can make the huge cuts in CO2 emissions we need simply by improving our energy efficiency and using renewables like solar and wind power.

2) They possess a deep suspicion of big business and big industry that's a residue of the leftism of the original environmental movement.

They don't mention a third reason, which is that carbon sequestration is an expensive, iffy technology that may never work. I've written briefly about some of the challenges faced by Mr. Keith's preferred CCs project here, and many other writers have pointed out the technical issues that make any such project a questionable investment.

However, what I think is most significant are the doubts expressed re carbon sequestration by those within the power generation industry itself.

For example, in his day job, Richard S. Courtney, a well known climate change denier, was once Senior Material Scientist for British Coal. That's actually a PR position, but they gave him a fancy name. Now he edits CoalTrans International (journal of the international coal trading industry. His opinion of carbon sequestration:

Firstly, the value of carbon sequestration is political: n.b. it is not technological or economic.

There is opposition to power generation systems that emit CO2 as waste (this is similar to opposition to nuclear power systems that emit radioactive waste). A response to the opposition is needed until the AGW scare is ended. And claims of carbon sequestration (cs) provide that needed response although eveybody knows cs would be too expensive for it to be used.

When one of Big Coal's premier representatives calls CCs a crock meant to give the industry a thin green sheen, you have to wonder if some of that residue of distrust isn't warranted, and whether Mr. Homer-Dixon and Mr. Keith are not being a little bit naive.

12 comments:

Ti-Guy said...

Is the link you provide to Richard Courtney's statement on carbon sequestration correct?

Anyway, I'm glad to see some of them talking about ending the AGW scare. Perhaps they're starting to think about sending their hysterical and/or delusional denial-buddies into therapy or something.

In today's Globe: Alberta produces 39% of Canada's greenhouse gases. Why-oh-why didn't the Liberals do something about this for 13 years?

bigcitylib said...

The Courtney link is to an earlier post of mine. His comment is from the Climate skeptic mailing list, a private group that I have "infiltrated". You have to join to see the message archives.

But yeah he said it.

Mark Francis said...

CS is expensive, and its long-term viability is unclear. For it to even dent the rate of increase of our ever-increasing CO2 output, let alone reduce it, would require every new CO2-producing power plant to be placed in a location suitable for CS. As a technological answer, it lacks needed flexibility, even if it works.

This is assuming that CS can even work. It is a lot to ask for geological formations to reliably hold CO2 at bay for the needed timespan.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

"environmentalists oppose carbon sequestration schemes because:"

It doesn't fit in with their agenda, which is to reduce First world fuel consumption to allow freer access by Third world countries, thereby changing the entire economic paradigm.

Ti-Guy said...

It doesn't fit in with their agenda, which is to reduce First world fuel consumption to allow freer access by Third world countries, thereby changing the entire economic paradigm.

What economic paradigm? The one that ensures that the majority of people in North America don't get any wealthier and/or happier, despite increased productivity, technological sophistication and net wealth?

Some paradigm...one that has its own destruction built right into it.

Anonymous said...

"They don't mention a third reason, which is that carbon sequestration is an expensive, iffy technology that may never work."

Who cares if carbon sequestration is expensive? If the technology is ever proven and a price put on carbon emissions, we'll quickly get an idea of how expensive it really is. If it's too expensive, then other technologies will win and expand their market share.

Ti-Guy said...

Death to laissez faire losers!

Anonymous said...

"Death to laissez faire losers!"

LOL. You want to kill everyone who supports carbon pricing mechanisms like carbon taxes and cap-and-trade? That's pretty much the entire environmental movement.

Ti-Guy said...

You want to kill everyone who supports carbon pricing mechanisms like carbon taxes and cap-and-trade?

It took the laissez faire losers long enough to stop (have they stopped?) arguing against those.

That's what I mean by losers...the laissez faire's, bless their hearts, are very slow learners.

Maybe wishing them death is a little harsh, though. I'd settle for internment.

Anonymous said...

You'd think that since the greenies are also advocating the elimination of factory-produced nitrogen (which uses fuel to create) and thus lowering plant's ability to produce food for the world, that an increase in CO2 (plant food!) and temperature would be considered a welcome offset. Well, that would be, if their agenda didn't include reducing the world's population, so that they can 'save the environment'. For whom, they won't say.

Holly Stick said...

Hey, I just came up with a solution to the nuclear waste problem! Declare that nuclear waste is plant food and all the rightwing idiots will clamor to have nuclear waste dumps in their back yards.