The world’s greatest irony? CO2 capture

So this article is in the newest Scientific American- it isn’t officially on the SciAm website yet, but I thought I’d give you guys the run down beforehand-

Global warming exists in society to some facet, regardless of what you would like to believe. And the chief contributor to this problem is CO2 emissions. It’s not an easy problem to reduce emissions in this modern consumerism era, but perhaps an alternative is to trap CO2, i.e. send it back from whence it came. The big problem, of course, is expenses- the most modern facility costed $6.3 billion, which was $3.9 billion over budget.

The main problem with CO2 trapping is finding a suitable vendor for the excess gas. Some potential customers would be companies making baking soda, dry wall, and even plastics- but again, the high price of buying CO2 turns these potential investors away. So which industry has money and need for CO2? Wait for it… the oil industry.

Yes, the oil industry could be one of the biggest benefactors of using CO2. To extract oil, high pressure steam and particulates are typically pumped well below the surface to form cracks and induce oil flow. CO2 would certainly be useful here to help extract oil. The interesting thing is that roughly 2/3 of the pumped CO2 returns with the oil to the surface- meaning that the other 1/3 remains underground. Yup, we have found a way to force feed the Earth some CO2. This of course, leads to the world’s greatest irony: “the idea that combating climate change depends on a technology that uses CO2 to produce more oil that then gets burned, producing more CO2.” If I were you, I’d laugh. Seemingly that’s all we can do in the face of climate change right now.

CCS Fallacy


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