Saturday, January 9, 2010

Carbon Emissions and Sequestration

Gizmodo recently picked up on an article about a Japanese project aiming to use bacteria (genetically modified, possibly?) to convert CO2 into natural gas (well, methane, anyway) and sequestering the (leftover?) carbon. They don't have funding yet and frankly I hope that it doesn't get it. Aside from the fact that we don't really know whether sequestering carbon will work — it might just seep out again — it seems to represent strange priorities. The flub in Gizmodo's write up is illustrative:

Many nations have already built massive carbon sequestration plants that can store carbon dioxide underground, as part of a worldwide effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Obviously, sequestering atmospheric carbon does absolutely nothing to curb greenhouse gas emissions! Now, I'm all for thinking about the climate change problem in terms of a total "budget" of atmospheric carbon compatible with a 2° rise in global temperature averages, but these pie-in-the-sky solutions just don't get to the heart of the problem. Worse, they allow us a sort of vague hope that technology will save the day and allow us to keep on doing what we're doing. When did we forget that technology is ultimately going to be our undoing? Haven't these people watched science fiction movies?!?

Sped-Up Bacteria Could Transform Carbon Dioxide into Natural Gas - methane - Gizmodo

1 comment:

Peter Montague said...

Thank you for acknowledging what others seems to have overlooked in their enthusiasm for carbon sequestration: It might leak back out of the ground with unhappy consequences: