April 26, 2007
The Politics of Air Capture
Posted to Author: Pielke Jr., R. | Climate Change | Energy Policy | Science + Politics | Technology Policy
A while back we prepped our readers to get ready for air capture. This article from a New Jersey newspaper, the Star-Ledger, describes how one air capture technology is progressing and how different interests are already taking political positions on its merits:
Klaus Lackner's invention has been called many things -- a wind scrubber, a synthetic tree, a carbon vacuum, even a giant fly swatter.
Here is one reaction to the technology:
"There's no magic bullet to save us from the problem of global warming," said Kert Davies, an energy expert for Greenpeace USA in Washington, D.C. Removing greenhouse gases so readily will not encourage people to develop alternate, renewable technologies, he said, and strive for energy efficiency.
If reducing fossil fuels is not really about carbon dioxde, as the Greenpeace spokesman suggests but also about many other benefits, then why shouldn't these benefits play a more central role in energy policy debates? And being so quick to abandon the carbon dioxide argument is not an effective strategy for compelling action on carbon dioxide. Greenpeace has come out in favor of wind power and the required acres of windmills across the land. This is hard to square with CO2-removal technologies as eyesores, unless one recognizes that the aesthetics of a technology appear to be a function of its political role.
I have no idea if Professor Lackner's ideas will prove to have technical merit or not. However, I do believe that all options should be on the table, and we should resist efforts to limit choice prematurely.Posted on April 26, 2007 11:07 AM
They had nice CO2 scrubbers on the submarine I was on over 25 years ago. So I am not too impressed. A simpler solution to this "problem" would be to produce a great deal of biomass, render it to charcoal, and sequester the charcoal.
Posted by: Jim Lebeau at April 26, 2007 12:14 PM
Posted by: Roger C at April 26, 2007 02:07 PM
Personally I am in two minds: I hate the overhype, the bandwagon science and the reliance on extremely dubious computer modeling but I'm happy that finally we have been focusing on alternative energies. Developing a CO2 capture solution would just encourage people to continue using gas guzzlers and wasting precious energy resources. Why not capture the water vapour instead? According to all AGW theories it is the additional water vapour that causes the main warming via positive feedback and clean water is what humans will really lack in the coming years. A Win-Win situation perhaps?
For the record, I am an ex nuclear engineer, an ex oil engineer, a CO2-free fuel cell designer, a developer of accurate computer modeling software and an ardent environmentalist so I am all over the place on this issue. Maybe I have more perspective?
Posted by: JamesG at April 27, 2007 04:29 AM
Many people, like yourself, are also furthering their own nuclear power agenda on the back of the global warming scare. I am also pro-nuclear but I accept that a lot of people are even more scared of nuclear proliferation than higher global temperatures. Iran's desperate want of nuclear weapons is enough to worry anyone, as is the recent polonium poisoning in London. Nuclear technology remains the ultimate terrorist weapon. Also Uranium is neither renewable or plentiful and fast breeders using plutonium are a non-starter. Probably the Thorium reactor idea should be hyped up more as, being largely clean and safe, it stands more chance of acceptability, perhaps even one day by Greenpeace.
Posted by: JamesG at April 27, 2007 04:46 AM