Huffingtonpost: As the realities of global climate change become ever more alarming, advocates of technological approaches to “geoengineer” the planet’s climate are gaining a following.
But the technologies that are promoted — from spraying sulphate particles into the stratosphere, to dumping iron particles into the ocean, to stimulate carbon absorbing plankton, to burning millions of trees and burying the char in soils — are all fraught with clear and obvious risks, and are most likely only going to make matters worse.
Yet zeal for these approaches continues unabated. According to right-wing think tank American Enterprise Institute, geoengineering offers:
“…the marriage of capitalism and climate remediation…What if corporations shoulder more costs and lead the technological charge, all for a huge potential payoff?…Let’s hope we are unleashing enlightened capitalist forces that just might drive the kind of technological innovation necessary to genuinely tackle climate change.”
Forget about cutting emissions: manipulating the atmosphere and biosphere through geoengineering is the only sensible option for business and thus policy makers, they claim.
Notably, on the very same website, American Enterprise Institute claims that opponents of the Keystone Pipeline are exaggerating environmental risks while undermining economic gains and ‘neighborliness’.
The connection between the tar sands industry and geoengineering advocates is perhaps not immediately obvious, but it makes perfect, ugly sense. Tar sands investors and their allies have long realized that geoengineering could provide them an extended lease on life — and a convenient means to avoid the shuttering of their industry, which many consider the single most destructive and climat — damaging form of energy extraction.
Hence, it isn’t surprising that tar sands magnate Murray Edwards, director of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd, actually fact funds a geoengineering company that works on techniques for capturing CO2 from the air called Carbon Engineering.
Carbon Engineering’s president, David Keith, is one of the most vocal and best funded advocates of geoengineering. Carbon Dioxide air capture is often viewed as benign or “soft” geoengineering. After all, what could possibly be wrong with removing carbon dioxide from the overloaded atmosphere?
For starters, air capture of CO2 requires vast amounts of water and, yes, more energy. According to one study, scrubbing all current annual fossil fuel emissions from the air would deprive 53 million people of water. Even capturing CO2 from power station smokestacks, where it is already in a relatively concentrated stream, requires those power plants to burn nearly one third more fuel in order to generate the same amount of energy, plus the additional demand required to power carbon capture.
Author: Rachel SmolkerCo-director, Biofuelwatch
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