Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Fossil fuels.

I was listening to a podcast by Dr. David Suzuki yesterday where he interviews Dr. M. Scott Taylor, the Canada Research Chair in International, Energy, and Environmental Economics at the University of Calgary.  Dr. Suzuki was interviewing Dr. Taylor about the burying of carbon dioxide emissions, referred to as "carbon capture and storage" or "CCS".  So, I guess this is where we've arrived: we've accepted that we are not wise enough collectively to change our exploitation and destruction of the part of the planet we already inhabit, so we're going to have to aggressively look for other parts to exploit.  There is already a fairly significant amount of space garbage.  I guess this is the opposite.  I would like to note for the record that although the podcast was Dr. Suzuki's podcast, The Bottom Line, which is adapted from his radio show on CBC, he did not appear to be in favour of CCS.  As a matter of fact, I would say he disagreed as strongly as I've ever seen a Canadian disagree with another Canadian (a little joke for the Americans reading this blog).  We are a polite and agreeable bunch North of the border.

I, also being a Canadian, would like to respectfully request that we all get the idea of Carbon Capture and Storage out of our heads as a possible solution.  Right now.  As long as we're touting this sort of strategy, I don't think the public will ever fully mobilize and reduce its collective dependence on fossil fuels.  We don't need a cheap and easy fix on this issue.  What we need is for alternatives to be discovered and put into practice before we've reached the point of no return, wherever that point is going to be.  We need to use less plastic, drive cars that require less or no fossil fuels to operate, and consume far less of everything.  Here is a link to the primary human-related sources of carbon emissions in the U.S.  We need to consider whether the Earth is truly our garbage can, and if it is not, why we treat it like it is.  I personally believe that it is because we are not presented with options that are environmentally-friendly and affordable.  You now understand why I started this blog and gave it the name that I did.

In case you noticed that I did not explain the downfalls of CCS, I will explain further.  Even though the concept of using the Earth's crust as our newest trash heap is probably distasteful to most people just on its own, there are actually significant risks of this method of dumping carbon emissions.  The biggest issue, which to me means that it's just a pointless technology, is that the reservoirs leak.  Some companies developing this technology plan for a fail rate of one episode per year.  So some portion of this carbon dioxide that we are going to spend significant amounts of money pumping underground, is just going to come back into the atmosphere and do its damage anyhow.  This is a problem with band-aid solutions, you get poor results.  Also, the reservoirs will not only leak, but will require permanent monitoring because they will leak. If you would like further information, here is a report presented to the Australian parliament.  If you want to be shocked go to this webpage and click on the "click to enlarge" map on the right to see the aquifers in North America that are being considered as potential reservoirs for the storage of these emissions.

Finally, there is something about the West becoming actively involved in China's CCS projects that just does not sitting well with me.  I can't help but think that the dangers associated with CCS are of sufficient concern that the West is avoiding undertaking projects on their own soil, and instead encouraging other countries to bear the burden of the inevitable enormous fails that will happens as this method of waste storage is developed.

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