Friday, July 17th, 2009 | Author:  | 11,792 views - starting Aug 9/09
Quercus virginiana

Quercus virginiana

humans are still trying to develop technologies that imitate natural processes … by far the most effective, efficient, time-tested, and safest carbon capture and storage technology is found in photosynthesizing plants, soil microorganisms, and marine and freshwater ecosystems … however, fancy human technology has joined the race …

what are the pros & cons of artificial CO2 gas capture & storage?

there seem to be relatively few cons to capturing industrial CO2 gas by-product (albeit capturing CO2 gas from the atmosphere is a different issue altogether) …

the greatest concern with the concept of, and geoengineering technology involved in, CO2 capture and storage is the storage … recent studies conducted by geoengineers indicate that CO2 gas can apparently safely and permanently be stored in:

1. gaseous form and pumped or injected deep below the ground, into various geological formations such as saline aquifers, exhausted gas fields, etc.;

CO2 gas injection into a saline aquifer

CO2 gas injection into a saline aquifer

2. liquid form and dissolved into the ocean; and

3. solid form via inducing chemical reactions with metal oxides to produce stable carbonates …

even before you look at the technical aspects of what all of this means, consider this:

* this research has been conducted for only a very short period of time (in the order of decades or less; keep in mind that natural ecological and geological processes take millenia to occur naturally);

* research results are inevitably ambiguous, especially when you are dealing with natural processes that take place on an enormous — and often inaccessible — spatial and temporal scale;

* vested interests very likely define policy development and public information more than accurate data;

* it is difficult to conduct rigorous studies that account for all variables (and
most often, all the possible variables that could affect study design and outcome are not known or well-understood until after the study has been designed and begun);

* we know relatively little about the long-term implications and the breadth of impact of such technologies; and

* hindsight is a better teacher than any experiment or research study … surprises are inevitable and most often, humans learn lessons in the aftermath of an unforseen disaster …

with that last point, i don’t mean that research is futile and should not be conducted … quite the contrary … research is essential (and fun!! i’m a scientist … i love research!) … but i think we need to take a step back and think very deeply and seriously about what it is we’re talking about here …

when i read about these ideas that industry and governments are taking seriously, sirens detonate unabashed in my brain … this is what i think –> “!!!!!!!!” …

after all the biological, ecological, geological, hydrological, and chemical disasters humans have caused, it shatters my logic to realize that we haven’t collectively learned that we do not have the knowledge, security, right, or fall-back crisis-management skills and resources to manipulate Nature to such degrees as we have in the past and continue to do …

perhaps i’m digressing here … i meant to write about the pros and cons of artificial CO2 gas capture and storage (i guess i’ll write about that on monday july 20) … i just think that the technical cons are moot in light of the bigger picture … and i also think that any pros resulting from this technology are superficial, short-term, and offer paltry relief from the greenhouse gas / climate change issue the technology is intended to solve …

hmmm … i hate to end a post with a negative comment and disheartening images … so i’ll revert to the lessons i learned on “essay writing” in my high school english classes … i’ll restate my thesis:

planting trees (plus decreasing global deforestation) and protecting aquatic
ecosystems is key to *safely* increasing CO2 gas capture and storage …

beaver pond

beaver pond

additionally, decreasing CO2 emissions in the 1st place is also essential (eeeps! this point was not in my ‘thesis’!!), which very nicely brings us back to my original topic — capturing coal-derived CO2 gas before it is emitted … i knew i could swing back to my original point … although much to my chagrin, i didn’t answer my original question posed at the start of this post … hmmmm …

for my next post, i’ll discuss what industry and governments do with this gas once it is captured …

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5 Responses

  1. 1

    Great post, very interesting, not sure if us messing with ‘mother natures’ ways are good but if it help us progress to a better planet its got to be good.

  2. 2


  3. 3
    Lea Seto 

    Wow, I had no idea. Amazing information and great work on your blog.

  4. 4
    Justin Lanzak 

    I’m not sure I understand this. It’s complicated, but I think you did a good job of explaining it.

  5. 5

    This design is steller! You most certainly know how to maintain a reader entertained. Between your wit and your amazing information, I was almost moved to start my own weblog (well, almost HaHa!). But seriously, Great job. I really love what you have written on this blog, and especially how you have presented it. Amazing!