So here I am taking a bit of a break and watching the Discovery Channel about Project Earth and this whole concept of trapping frozen carbon by shooting a torpedo down into the sea floor and hence “trap” the carbon dioxide. The more I’m watching this the angrier I’m getting as there are some very fundamental problems here that the carelessness of these types of approaches are just not addressing. In fact the more I think about it, a large number of the “solutions” to carbon capture is to a) take carbon out of the atmosphere, and b) bury it into what amounts to a landfill.
Where I have a problem with this is that pollution by any other name is still pollution. As much as we are so concerned about global warming due to greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, what people still seem incapable of getting through their heads is that the whole reason why carbon is building up in the atmosphere is that the oceans are already saturated with the stuff. Hence the reason why our oceans are dying though acidification.
Basic chemistry lesson: if you take a liquid which is already saturated with CO2 and equalize the proportions of CO2 in the air above it with the liquid you get what is called an equilibrium. Now, remove CO2 from the air above the liquid and the liquid will start to aspirate CO2 in order to maintain that balance. Since water can retain fifty (50) times the amount of CO2 that air does the natural process is for carbon to leach back into the atmosphere and negate any effect CO2 removal from the atmosphere may have had. To get a true reduction you would have to remove billions of tons of CO2 so that the combined CO2 diluted in both the air and the oceans comes down in equal proportions.
Now – here is the rub – where do these supposed very smart people want to put all this CO2? At the bottom of the ocean or in / near the ocean floor where the CO2 has the very real potential of leaching back into the oceans and starting the whole mess all over again. And to top this off, the acidification of the oceans through excessive CO2 is destroying the one natural process the earth has of regulating CO2 rises and falls in the first place. That being the plankton and other ocean going photosynthetic organisms which naturally remove carbon in the first place.
What I don’t get – and maybe its just a bad me day today – but really – how much of a nob does one have to be to not understand that the way to calm runaway CO2 is to trap it in the natural processes which we as the human race have been systematically destroying for thousands of years? We have thousands of square miles of barren deserts that use to harbour forests and grasses. Just look at what the Israelis did to Sharm el-Sheikh and that whole area of the Sinai Peninsula. Barren – wasted – and now one of the most thriving tourist areas in the Middle East under Egyptian management.
We have technology that would allow us to bring water to deserts, transform barren regions into profitable farmland, re-establish ecosystems where none exist, and make productive use of the carbon we choose to capture. Instead, programs such as this continue to promote a love affair with landfills for toxic wastes that simply ship the problem out of our own backyards and leave the mess for someone else to find and clean up.
What we need to do is find a way to break down the CO2 into usable production components rather than pushing the problem off on someone else, even if that someone else isn’t going to be aware of the problem until 2 or 3 thousand years from now.
Its one thing to be forced to use landfills and other environmentally insensitive disposal mechanisms due to the historical infrastructures on which modern society is based. Those will take time to change – and change they will. It is another to go about creating new forms of landfills when the infrastructure supporting those institutions haven’t been built yet.
It is unethical. It is immoral. And it makes me sick to my stomach that our ‘scientific elite’ are the ones that are leading the charge on this. (not that I would have an opinion on the subject or anything).