Activism Discussion: Climate: Doubts Raised About "CO2 Storage" Easy-way-out

Climate: Doubts Raised About "CO2 Storage" Easy-way-out
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I*@economicdemocracy.org
2006-07-31 12:57:02 EST
So much for "have your cake and eat it too" easy way out where
political
misleaders try to tell the public we only need to make minor changes in

our massive fossil fuel emissions because 'techology will save us'
Think again.

Study raises new doubts about carbon storage


In Short:

The capture and storage of CO2 deep underground may prove an
environmentally risky solution to global warming, a US government
experiment revealed.



Brief News:

US researchers who injected carbon dioxide in a depleted oil field in
Texas found it caused the minerals underground to dissolve, raising
fresh doubts about carbon capture and storage technology as a viable
solution to global warming.

Yousif Kharaka, the geochemist who led the experiment, said the 1,600
tonnes of liquid CO2 injected underground changed the acidity of the
minerals, causing them to dissolve. This, she said, has environmental
implications as the liquid CO2 could then leak into ground water or
find its way back into the atmosphere and aggravate the greenhouse
effect. The results of the study, performed in October 2004, were
published in the July 2006 edition of journal Geology.

Experimental carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects are currently
being implemented around the globe. The technology is [being touted as
holding] the promise of a future where fossil fuels such as oil and
coal can become clean of CO2 emissions, the most [dangerous] gas held
responsible for global warming.

In Europe, the largest project involves the injection of liquid CO2 to
force more oil out of a field in the North Sea. The project, which is
supported by the governments of Norway and Great Britain, is due to be
phased in by 2010 by companies Shell and Statoil.

The EU Commission is due to present a policy paper on carbon capture
and storage at the end of 2006 that will address the use of the
technology to reduce emissions from all fossil fuels, especially in the
coal sector.

http://www.euractiv.com/en/sustainability/study-raises-new-doubts-carbon-storage/article-157057

Carbon dioxide's great underground escape in doubt

* 18 July 2006

LOCKING carbon dioxide underground sounds like a neat way of getting
rid of it - but not if it eventually leaks out again.

In October 2004 experimental CO2 injection began at the Frio formation,
an old brine-filled oil reservoir on the Texas Gulf Coast. Yousif
Kharaka from the US Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California, and
colleagues collected fluid and gas samples before injection began, and
at regular intervals afterwards. More recent samples suggest that
minerals in the rock walls, including carbonate, are being dissolved by
the mixture of CO2 and saltwater in the reservoir.

If enough carbonate is dissolved this could create tunnels in the rock
through which the CO2 gas may seep out into the atmosphere again
(Geology, vol 34, p 577).

While this hasn't happened yet at Frio, Kharaka says that it could be a
problem at other sites, particularly where existing cracks in the rocks
are filled with carbonate-rich minerals. If organic compounds and trace
metals dissolved in the brine also leak out, they could contaminate
groundwater, Kharaka says.

http://www.newscientist.com/channel/earth/mg19125605.300-carbon-dioxides-great-underground-escape-in-doubt.html

More background on climate change:

http://www.newscientist.com/channel/earth/climate-change

And especially http://www.newscientist.com/guide/climate-change/archive

=============

DON'T MOURN, ACT! WEBSITES FOR ACTION:

http://www.earthshare.org/get_involved/involved.html
http://www.greenhousenet.org/
http://www.solarcatalyst.com/
http://www.campaignearth.org/buy_green_nativeenergy.asp

Overview and local actions you can take: http://www.PostCarbon.org
=============

= = = =
STILL FEELING LIKE THE MAINSTREAM U.S. CORPORATE MEDIA
IS GIVING A FULL HONEST PICTURE OF WHAT'S GOING ON?
= = = =
Daily online radio show, news reporting: www.DemocracyNow.org
More news: UseNet's misc.activism.progressive (moderated)
= = = =
Sorry, we cannot read/reply to most usenet posts but welcome email
For more information: http://EconomicDemocracy.org/wtc/ (peace)
And http://EconomicDemocracy.org/ (general)

** ANTI-SPAM EMAIL NOTE: For email "info" and "map" DON'T work. Email
instead
** to m-a-i-l-m-a-i-l (without the dashes) at economicdemocracy.org


John Fernbach
2006-07-31 13:57:13 EST
Economic Democracy - thanks for the disturbing post. Is there any more
research you can cite on this important topic?

Because clearly a good number of politicians and corporate executives
who've signed on to the notion of tackling global climate change -- I'm
thinking of the corporate signers of the Pew Climate Center's
statements on global climate, for example -- are counting on carbon
dioxide sequestration to make continued use of fossil fuels possible.

Although I don't like the fossil fuel industry, I hope the picture for
carbon sequestration is actually more positive than this post suggests.
Because it's going to be hard enough to halt the progress of Western
society toward climate disaster, even if carbon sequestration works.
If it doesn't work, the political and economic task will be all the
harder.

Could you address this topic more, please?
---------------

i*o@economicdemocracy.org wrote:
> So much for "have your cake and eat it too" easy way out where
> political
> misleaders try to tell the public we only need to make minor changes in
>
> our massive fossil fuel emissions because 'techology will save us'
> Think again.
>
> Study raises new doubts about carbon storage
>
>
> In Short:
>
> The capture and storage of CO2 deep underground may prove an
> environmentally risky solution to global warming, a US government
> experiment revealed.
>
>
>
> Brief News:
>
> US researchers who injected carbon dioxide in a depleted oil field in
> Texas found it caused the minerals underground to dissolve, raising
> fresh doubts about carbon capture and storage technology as a viable
> solution to global warming.
>
> Yousif Kharaka, the geochemist who led the experiment, said the 1,600
> tonnes of liquid CO2 injected underground changed the acidity of the
> minerals, causing them to dissolve. This, she said, has environmental
> implications as the liquid CO2 could then leak into ground water or
> find its way back into the atmosphere and aggravate the greenhouse
> effect. The results of the study, performed in October 2004, were
> published in the July 2006 edition of journal Geology.
>
> Experimental carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects are currently
> being implemented around the globe. The technology is [being touted as
> holding] the promise of a future where fossil fuels such as oil and
> coal can become clean of CO2 emissions, the most [dangerous] gas held
> responsible for global warming.
>
> In Europe, the largest project involves the injection of liquid CO2 to
> force more oil out of a field in the North Sea. The project, which is
> supported by the governments of Norway and Great Britain, is due to be
> phased in by 2010 by companies Shell and Statoil.
>
> The EU Commission is due to present a policy paper on carbon capture
> and storage at the end of 2006 that will address the use of the
> technology to reduce emissions from all fossil fuels, especially in the
> coal sector.
>
> http://www.euractiv.com/en/sustainability/study-raises-new-doubts-carbon-storage/article-157057
>
> Carbon dioxide's great underground escape in doubt
>
> * 18 July 2006
>
> LOCKING carbon dioxide underground sounds like a neat way of getting
> rid of it - but not if it eventually leaks out again.
>
> In October 2004 experimental CO2 injection began at the Frio formation,
> an old brine-filled oil reservoir on the Texas Gulf Coast. Yousif
> Kharaka from the US Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California, and
> colleagues collected fluid and gas samples before injection began, and
> at regular intervals afterwards. More recent samples suggest that
> minerals in the rock walls, including carbonate, are being dissolved by
> the mixture of CO2 and saltwater in the reservoir.
>
> If enough carbonate is dissolved this could create tunnels in the rock
> through which the CO2 gas may seep out into the atmosphere again
> (Geology, vol 34, p 577).
>
> While this hasn't happened yet at Frio, Kharaka says that it could be a
> problem at other sites, particularly where existing cracks in the rocks
> are filled with carbonate-rich minerals. If organic compounds and trace
> metals dissolved in the brine also leak out, they could contaminate
> groundwater, Kharaka says.
>
> http://www.newscientist.com/channel/earth/mg19125605.300-carbon-dioxides-great-underground-escape-in-doubt.html
>
> More background on climate change:
>
> http://www.newscientist.com/channel/earth/climate-change
>
> And especially http://www.newscientist.com/guide/climate-change/archive
>
> =============
>
> DON'T MOURN, ACT! WEBSITES FOR ACTION:
>
> http://www.earthshare.org/get_involved/involved.html
> http://www.greenhousenet.org/
> http://www.solarcatalyst.com/
> http://www.campaignearth.org/buy_green_nativeenergy.asp
>
> Overview and local actions you can take: http://www.PostCarbon.org
> =============
>
> = = = =
> STILL FEELING LIKE THE MAINSTREAM U.S. CORPORATE MEDIA
> IS GIVING A FULL HONEST PICTURE OF WHAT'S GOING ON?
> = = = =
> Daily online radio show, news reporting: www.DemocracyNow.org
> More news: UseNet's misc.activism.progressive (moderated)
> = = = =
> Sorry, we cannot read/reply to most usenet posts but welcome email
> For more information: http://EconomicDemocracy.org/wtc/ (peace)
> And http://EconomicDemocracy.org/ (general)
>
> ** ANTI-SPAM EMAIL NOTE: For email "info" and "map" DON'T work. Email
> instead
> ** to m-a-i-l-m-a-i-l (without the dashes) at economicdemocracy.org


Raylopez99
2006-07-31 16:13:20 EST
john fernbach wrote:
> Economic Democracy - thanks for the disturbing post. Is there any more
> research you can cite on this important topic?

Disturbing post from a disturbed poster.

>
> Because clearly a good number of politicians and corporate executives
> who've signed on to the notion of tackling global climate change -- I'm
> thinking of the corporate signers of the Pew Climate Center's
> statements on global climate, for example -- are counting on carbon
> dioxide sequestration to make continued use of fossil fuels possible.
>

Exactly. I'll bet with people betting with real money over a anonymous
internet (im)poster.


> Although I don't like the fossil fuel industry, I hope the picture for
> carbon sequestration is actually more positive than this post suggests.

And it is.

> Because it's going to be hard enough to halt the progress of Western
> society toward climate disaster, even if carbon sequestration works.
> If it doesn't work, the political and economic task will be all the
> harder.

Or maybe not.

>
> Could you address this topic more, please?

He can't: he simply cross posts what he reads on the internet.
Nothing original comes out of his mouth, unlike mine.

The human Google, what these people are, but less useful than the real
Google.

Zombies like Roger says (himself a human Google).

RL


John Fernbach
2006-07-31 20:11:05 EST
Ray - like all of your personal attacks, this one is intellectually
worthless and adds nothing to the discussion of the topic at hand --
carbon sequestration.

As for Economic Democracy's knowledge of the subject -- well, he's
citing the journal Geology, which I assume is peer-reviewed. And the
article being cited raises serious questions about this partcular
technological fix for greenhouse-inducing CO2 emissions.

Do you have any counter-citation you can make to indicate the safety
and worth of this new technology, Ray?

Because the gist of what the article in Geology suggests is that there
are grave flaws with this approach to solving the CO2 emissions
problem.

Indicating that yes, human civilization probably does have to make deep
and indeed slashing cuts in our consumption of fossil fuels.

If you have good reasons to suppose that the concerns expressed in the
Geology article are misplaced, Ray, please share them with the studio
audience. They could be important.

But voicing personal insults about Econ Democracy, or Roger Coppock, or
anyone else in here is not addressing the key issue of whether carbon
sequestration will work.

Will it? If so, why?

Or if not, why not?



raylopez99 wrote:
> john fernbach wrote:
> > Economic Democracy - thanks for the disturbing post. Is there any more
> > research you can cite on this important topic?
>
> Disturbing post from a disturbed poster.
>
> >
> > Because clearly a good number of politicians and corporate executives
> > who've signed on to the notion of tackling global climate change -- I'm
> > thinking of the corporate signers of the Pew Climate Center's
> > statements on global climate, for example -- are counting on carbon
> > dioxide sequestration to make continued use of fossil fuels possible.
> >
>
> Exactly. I'll bet with people betting with real money over a anonymous
> internet (im)poster.
>
>
> > Although I don't like the fossil fuel industry, I hope the picture for
> > carbon sequestration is actually more positive than this post suggests.
>
> And it is.
>
> > Because it's going to be hard enough to halt the progress of Western
> > society toward climate disaster, even if carbon sequestration works.
> > If it doesn't work, the political and economic task will be all the
> > harder.
>
> Or maybe not.
>
> >
> > Could you address this topic more, please?
>
> He can't: he simply cross posts what he reads on the internet.
> Nothing original comes out of his mouth, unlike mine.
>
> The human Google, what these people are, but less useful than the real
> Google.
>
> Zombies like Roger says (himself a human Google).
>
> RL


I*@economicdemocracy.org
2006-07-31 20:49:18 EST
john fernbach wrote:
> Economic Democracy - thanks for the disturbing post. Is there any more
> research you can cite on this important topic?

Dear John,

Glad I caught your post, since too oftem am not able to read usenet
often
enough to catch such requests; in general it's best to use email either
for the communication, or use Usenet but CC by email, per the bottom
portion of the signature at the bottom of the posts.

Unsorted, chronological listing of news stories, many of which cite
speciric
peer-reviewed science journal research articles, are here

http://economicdemocracy.org/eco/

however it's unsoreted. There are too many pieces to have a collection
of articles for everything, yet; there's a complication on the
reality, and human-activities basis of dangerous climate change,
and "who says it's true?" here:

http://economicdemocracy.org/eco/climate-summary.html

and the complication has 3 or more articles casting doubt over
the ability of "plant more forests" to bail us out. At this point I
can't have
an easy set of links at fingertips to gather in one place all the
studies
casting doubts on CO2 storage. But, if that's our main focus, we really
will miss the forest for the trees.

Elementary logic (whether we invoke the Precautionary Princple or not)
suggest we should not "Bet the planet" on getting carbon-technology
to work. It's actually worse, it would be betting the future of the
planet
on our hope of "getting carbon-storage technology to work *quickly*
enough and
*extensively* enough" to save our skins.

Surely no sane civilization would make such a bet.

"It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced
society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what
we are now in the process of doing." Elizabeth Kolbert in the New
Yorker, in her series on climate change (more accurately, climate
disruption/distabilization)

..yet that is the bet "we" are making. "We" should be in quotes..see
below..but first:

> Because clearly a good number of politicians and corporate executives
> who've signed on to the notion of tackling global climate change -- I'm
> thinking of the corporate signers of the Pew Climate Center's
> statements on global climate, for example -- are counting on carbon
> dioxide sequestration to make continued use of fossil fuels possible.

It seems to me many of us are misinterpreting the significance
of these choices. The case of the corporations is easy to decipher:
their job
is to make money, and it's a fair bet right now that (putting aside
merely the fact that the prospects for human survival based on this
one single bet are not that good) it's a good bet that such
corporations
will be able to make money for at least some years, by trying to build
such technologies. That's the correct interpretation of the moves by
corporations towards CO2 storage technolgy; not any indication that it
will save the human race, but an indication of their perceptions that
enough politicos in power of enough countries/states will go for
'carbon storage' (which means not having to change the status quo
very much) to make them money.

The case of scientists is more complex. In some cases, you really
to have scientists who are so engrossed with the "techn-fix" mentality
that they are unable to see that "Techno-fix" will not always bail us
out and that changes in how society is organized (in particular
switching from a 'perpetual growth forever and ever' economic
system to a '[thriving but] steady state' economy)...

..a second group of scientists might be thinking to themselves, "true,
a techno-fix
won't do it, but what can I individually do? I can write my
represntative, but most of my time is as a scientists, I don't
have much time for activism..and who will pay attention to my
activist letters to change away from our fossil fuel and Big Energy
based system, to another, anyway? My credentials are in science,
so at least someone will listen to me if I work to think of some
ways, however small, in which science/technology *might* help us"
Some scientists say this explicitly: a recent story has a prominent
scientist say we can use sulfur to cool down the earth, etc, but if you
keep reading, they quote him saying, "we *really* should be cutting
down radically and very sharply our level of fossil fuel emissions..and
nothing in this proposal should be used by anyone to argue against
such massive cuts..but if that doesn't happen enough due to lack
of spine on the part of our politicians, then here's one technical idea
that could help" I'm paraphrasing but that's the gist of it, almost
posted that article..There are plenty of scientists in this second
group in any case..and we should not misinterpret their press releases
and ideas as meaning "there is a safe way out with
techno-fix" rather it means what the paraphrase indicates.

A broad picture of the problem so we don't lose the forest for
the trees involves the fact that if we continue on our present
course that we'd have to win not one but MANY bets to survive;
there already are many other dangers inclucing ocean acidification,
among others, and ominous positive feedback loop dangers like
frozen methane, peat bogs, etc, releasing more GHG as the planet
gets warmer and warmer;what we're seeing now is largely the result
of emissions until 1955...who knows what today's emissions already
have locked into place even without positive feedback, for the next
few decades..it would be foolish to just hope that we can continue
emitting at todays levels (much less, to emit at ever higher levels)
and avoid catastrophe.

"We" is in quotes since our dysfunctional political-economic systems in
place do not adequately weigh in long-term survival -- most of the
weight is on short term
experiency (political sphere) or profit (economic sphere) and even
well intentioned corporate or political types have a very limited
ability
to change course within the framework of a "nice guys finish last"
system
which punishes good behavior as future generations and the environment
do not "vote" in the market nor help with next quarter's numbers. Yes,
we must pressure the government do..but we the people must also
do what those "leaders" inside the system cannot do, which is start
changing the system. In particular, perpectual growth
forever is not just a mathematical and physical impossibility
on our planet, it's also mode of economics and 'development' (quite
often 'destruction' in reality, already today) that is on a path which
from a purely factual, non-emotive view, is a suicidal path.

Some thoughts in the two-part essay on the broad forest
rather than the trees, including plenty of science and footnotes, after
the
more poetic beginning http://www.economicdemocracy.org/longtermview/

> Could you address this topic more, please?

See above essay...but most importantly, our task is made
much simpler by the lucky fact that without knowing exactly,
precisely, how the complex issues play out, sanity and survival,
and the precautionary principle, and not betting the planet on one
solution, and avoiding climate catastrophe, and averting
disasters with fish stocks collapsing, with water supplies, with peak
oil,
inter alia, all point to the same general direction: sharply cutting
down use of and phasing in elimination of fossil fuels; decentralized
energy instead of centralized Big Energy, local solutions and working
towards a steady-state rather than perpetual-growth economic
system.... so we know which general direction is the right way to walk,
regaredless of how the specifics play out on whether A turns out to be
a small disastesr or a large one,
whether feedback loop B turns out to be amenable (or not) to techno-fix
on
time, regardless of whether C is what we really will end up worrying
most
about, etc...the above directions (and much more...google for
permaculture
and "relocalization" are good places to start) are the ones we know
are the ones to try walking towards. There is no guarantee that by
doing so
we will avert disaster or even ensure human life will continue; given
however
that staying the course with perpetual-growth and fossil fuels *does*
guarantee
a nasty, non-linearly sharply worsening future at some point, and
probably
not a very distant point, the only way forward is clear, a sort of
Pascal's Wager: given option one leads to certain disaster, and option
two leads not to certain, but to
possible survival, the latter is the only one a sane and moral person
would choose..

ED/hb

= = = =
Sorry, we cannot read/reply to most usenet posts but welcome email
FOR MORE INFORMATION: http://EconomicDemocracy.org/wtc/ (peace)
http://economicdemocracy.org/eco/climate-summary.html (Climate)
And http://EconomicDemocracy.org/ (general)

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** m-a-i-l-m-a-i-l (without the dashes)at economicdemocracy.org instead


Raylopez99
2006-08-01 09:46:00 EST
i*o@economicdemocracy.org wrote:
> john fernbach wrote:

Both you guys talk too much.

THis passage is interesting:

==
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2003/12/18/MNGNV3PH9D1.DTL&type=science

What CNN may not tell you, even Christy, one of the so called
"skeptics" admits this in the above article: "[Even Christy] is
convinced that human activities are the major cause of the global
warming that has been measured," and that "It is scientifically
inconceivable that after changing forests into cities, turning millions
of acres into farmland, putting massive quantities of soot and dust
into the atmosphere and sending quantities of greenhouse gases into the
air, that the natural course of climate change hasn't been increased in
the past century.''"
==

So, should we be paying attention more to Christy?

==
Yet he is quoted out of context as a "skeptic" in mainstream media
(with Straw Men about 'let's not claim the world will end tomorrow"
(which no one does) and the public still thinks there is a "debate"
about whether climate change is real and furthermore, is mostly (see
"the major cause" above and other similar quotes elsewhere) is mostly
human caused
==

Do you agree with this statement "with Straw Men about 'let's not claim
the world will end tomorrow" (which no one does)"?

Then how do you reconcile it with your other statements about "runaway
greenhouse gas warming" and "releasing methane (runway warming"?

If you are not claiming the world will end tommorow then logically you
should be in favor of a gradual carbon tax and long-term studying of
the problem, with a "wait and see" attitude.

RL


John Fernbach
2006-08-01 11:27:43 EST
Economic Democracy -- Thanks for the long and thoughtful post. Which
I'm going to have to spend some time pondering to get it completely ==
wow, when you get going you can be even more long-winded than I am!

But it's all good stuff, and I want to look at it more. Also want to
look at your links to additional studies on the risks of different
carbon sequestration technologies.

I agree with the thrust of what you've written, I think -- (a) the
impossibility of perpetual economic growth on a finitely limited
planet, (b) the urgent importance of not gambling on an untried
technology to avert or slow global climate change, (c) the striking
desirability, on political and social grounds, of having a *
decentralized * rather than a *centralized * system for generating and
distributing energy.

[ in part because a more centralized energy production system is a good
springboard for political authoritarianism, or in a worst case
scenario, for tyranny.]

I think environmentalists have to honestly admit, however, that moving
from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and from centralized energy
production to decentralized energy production, and -- most importantly!
-- from a "growthmania" economy to a no-growth or steady state economy.
are NOT "easy," "simple," modest objectives.

Some of them -- especially the creation of a no-growth economy --
represent an intellectual and conceptual revolution, at least, compared
with our present ways of doing things.

And for capitalist industrial societies -- or for China's supposedly
"Communist" but increasingly market-based economy -- to abandon fossil
fuels would be a HUGE transition to a new way of doing things, even if
it isn't "revolutionary."

I think environmentalists also have to recognize that most people, for
very good reason, are rarely revolutionary, by choice. Most people,
including most environmentalists, and in fact including me, are
conservatives by temperament. And so I think it's understandable that
there's going to be enormous resistance, some of it morally
understandable and not merely self-interested, to making the changes in
coal and oil use that are needed to head off further disastrous climate
change.

There will be even greater resistance -- again, some of it perfectly
well-intentioned, although not all -- to even contemplating the idea of
a "steady state economy." In the views of many of the classical
economists and neoclassical economists, I think, a steady-state econmy
is incompatible with industrial capitalism as we've known it.

Yes - I believe the establishment of a steady-state economy is urgently
important; I think that from an environmentalist's perspective this is
only common sense -- but it represents a huge economic change, and
naturally a lot of people are going to resist it.

So how do we make progress under those circumstances?

All of this may seem off the point. But I guess I'm hoping that IF - a
huge IF -- IF "techno-fixes" like carbon sequestration underground, or
carbon sequestration
via tree planting, can really work, it may make sense for Greens to
applaud them, and to applaud the capitalist corporations that are
implementing them. As short-term fixes for a developing crisis, even
if they're not what they want in the long term.

Because I think time is running short on whether our civilization will
be able to cut its CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions in time to
avoid a huge climate-driven disaster or series of disasters. And I'm
in favor of avoiding whatever disasters we can, for as long as we can.

Ray Lopez has just weighed in to this string with his usual suggestion
that well, since the science is still uncertain, why don't we just put
more money into research and leave everything as is until we know
better?

And with all respect to Ray, I think that's completely wrong -- for the
same reason that carbon sequestration, IF IT WORKS, would be worth
supporting. To me, the time needed for the human species to fix the
CO2/greenhouse gas/climate problem is rapidly running out.

That means "not doing anything," just continuing on with our present
patterns of fossil fuel use [especially without carbon sequestration] a
good formula for disaster: bigger heat waves, tastier Category 5
hurricanes, the change of disastrous droughts that disrupt global
agriculture, and of course the whole problem with sea-level rise.

But to give some credence to one of Ray's points -- although certainly
not his whole conclusion -- I think it might make sense for someone (US
government? Edison Electric Institute?) to throw big bucks into
researching the promise AND the pitfalls of carbon sequestration.

The idea would be to employ lots of research dollars to learn
everything about carbon sequestration we possibly can, its good and bad
points equally, on the off chance that this "techno-fix" COULD enable
us to keep burning fossil fuels without wrecking the climate. Thus
allowing carbon-based capitalism and Chinese "communism" to continue
charging ahead, with no need for economically and politically wrenching
changes.

While carbon sequestration is being INTENSIVELY studied, though --
clearly it would be folly for the government or the oil and coal
companies or the utility companies to be investing in new coal mines or
new electric power stations that are supposed to use carbon
sequestration to "cure" their CO2 emissions.

When I was a schoolboy in northern Iowa, the teachers hammered into our
heads the maxim: "Look both ways before crossing the street," although
there actually was damned little traffic in our town to worry about.
But the advice is good: the benefits and the costs of carbon
sequestration MUST be intensively studied, must be known to the degree
possible, BEFORE huge capital investments are made in another damned
technology that could come back to bite us in another 20 years or 100
years when we find that it's leaking CO2 instead of containing it.

We need to "look before we leap."

In the meantime, I agree with your point, Economic Democracy, about the
urgent importance of proceeding with (a) energy conservation techniques
of all kinds and (b) investments in non-fossil-based, renewable energy
sources, so that at the least we're not making our CO2 problem worse ..
whether the carbon sequestration methods work or not.

If carbon sequestration is a success, of course -- whee, we get to keep
burning our ample coal supplies for another few centuries, if we choose
to. But in the meantime we haven't put the planet further at risk by
gambling on an iffy new technology that doesn't pan out.

As for moving beyond capitalism to a "steady state" economy, I think
this is a much longer-term project, although absolutely essential. I
think practically the only thing that steady-state advocates can do at
this point is educate people about the logic and the necessity and
viability of such a system. Because there's no way that a tiny
minority of Greens can possibly impose it on the world by force.

People need to see the need for it and the attractions of the economic
steady, or it can't happen. And since I believe it has to happen, we
need to persuade lots of people to give it a look see. Also, we
urgently need to devise ways in which an economic steady state CAN
work, and provide people with decent lives, despite the skepticism of
all the old classical and neoclassical economists. We need to have a
workable product, or at least a plausible product, before we proceed to
sell it. We don't want to have to do a lot of recalls.

I hope I'm not rambling too much here, but I guess these are my gut
reactions to issues you raised in your post. Is any of this making any
sense, Economic Democracy?

Let me shut up now (finally!) and look at your web links on carbon
sequestration and its possible pitfalls.





i*o@economicdemocracy.org wrote:
> john fernbach wrote:
> > Economic Democracy - thanks for the disturbing post. Is there any more
> > research you can cite on this important topic?
>
> Dear John,
>
> Glad I caught your post, since too oftem am not able to read usenet
> often
> enough to catch such requests; in general it's best to use email either
> for the communication, or use Usenet but CC by email, per the bottom
> portion of the signature at the bottom of the posts.
>
> Unsorted, chronological listing of news stories, many of which cite
> speciric
> peer-reviewed science journal research articles, are here
>
> http://economicdemocracy.org/eco/
>
> however it's unsoreted. There are too many pieces to have a collection
> of articles for everything, yet; there's a complication on the
> reality, and human-activities basis of dangerous climate change,
> and "who says it's true?" here:
>
> http://economicdemocracy.org/eco/climate-summary.html
>
> and the complication has 3 or more articles casting doubt over
> the ability of "plant more forests" to bail us out. At this point I
> can't have
> an easy set of links at fingertips to gather in one place all the
> studies
> casting doubts on CO2 storage. But, if that's our main focus, we really
> will miss the forest for the trees.
>
> Elementary logic (whether we invoke the Precautionary Princple or not)
> suggest we should not "Bet the planet" on getting carbon-technology
> to work. It's actually worse, it would be betting the future of the
> planet
> on our hope of "getting carbon-storage technology to work *quickly*
> enough and
> *extensively* enough" to save our skins.
>
> Surely no sane civilization would make such a bet.
>
> "It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced
> society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what
> we are now in the process of doing." Elizabeth Kolbert in the New
> Yorker, in her series on climate change (more accurately, climate
> disruption/distabilization)
>
> ..yet that is the bet "we" are making. "We" should be in quotes..see
> below..but first:
>
> > Because clearly a good number of politicians and corporate executives
> > who've signed on to the notion of tackling global climate change -- I'm
> > thinking of the corporate signers of the Pew Climate Center's
> > statements on global climate, for example -- are counting on carbon
> > dioxide sequestration to make continued use of fossil fuels possible.
>
> It seems to me many of us are misinterpreting the significance
> of these choices. The case of the corporations is easy to decipher:
> their job
> is to make money, and it's a fair bet right now that (putting aside
> merely the fact that the prospects for human survival based on this
> one single bet are not that good) it's a good bet that such
> corporations
> will be able to make money for at least some years, by trying to build
> such technologies. That's the correct interpretation of the moves by
> corporations towards CO2 storage technolgy; not any indication that it
> will save the human race, but an indication of their perceptions that
> enough politicos in power of enough countries/states will go for
> 'carbon storage' (which means not having to change the status quo
> very much) to make them money.
>
> The case of scientists is more complex. In some cases, you really
> to have scientists who are so engrossed with the "techn-fix" mentality
> that they are unable to see that "Techno-fix" will not always bail us
> out and that changes in how society is organized (in particular
> switching from a 'perpetual growth forever and ever' economic
> system to a '[thriving but] steady state' economy)...
>
> ..a second group of scientists might be thinking to themselves, "true,
> a techno-fix
> won't do it, but what can I individually do? I can write my
> represntative, but most of my time is as a scientists, I don't
> have much time for activism..and who will pay attention to my
> activist letters to change away from our fossil fuel and Big Energy
> based system, to another, anyway? My credentials are in science,
> so at least someone will listen to me if I work to think of some
> ways, however small, in which science/technology *might* help us"
> Some scientists say this explicitly: a recent story has a prominent
> scientist say we can use sulfur to cool down the earth, etc, but if you
> keep reading, they quote him saying, "we *really* should be cutting
> down radically and very sharply our level of fossil fuel emissions..and
> nothing in this proposal should be used by anyone to argue against
> such massive cuts..but if that doesn't happen enough due to lack
> of spine on the part of our politicians, then here's one technical idea
> that could help" I'm paraphrasing but that's the gist of it, almost
> posted that article..There are plenty of scientists in this second
> group in any case..and we should not misinterpret their press releases
> and ideas as meaning "there is a safe way out with
> techno-fix" rather it means what the paraphrase indicates.
>
> A broad picture of the problem so we don't lose the forest for
> the trees involves the fact that if we continue on our present
> course that we'd have to win not one but MANY bets to survive;
> there already are many other dangers inclucing ocean acidification,
> among others, and ominous positive feedback loop dangers like
> frozen methane, peat bogs, etc, releasing more GHG as the planet
> gets warmer and warmer;what we're seeing now is largely the result
> of emissions until 1955...who knows what today's emissions already
> have locked into place even without positive feedback, for the next
> few decades..it would be foolish to just hope that we can continue
> emitting at todays levels (much less, to emit at ever higher levels)
> and avoid catastrophe.
>
> "We" is in quotes since our dysfunctional political-economic systems in
> place do not adequately weigh in long-term survival -- most of the
> weight is on short term
> experiency (political sphere) or profit (economic sphere) and even
> well intentioned corporate or political types have a very limited
> ability
> to change course within the framework of a "nice guys finish last"
> system
> which punishes good behavior as future generations and the environment
> do not "vote" in the market nor help with next quarter's numbers. Yes,
> we must pressure the government do..but we the people must also
> do what those "leaders" inside the system cannot do, which is start
> changing the system. In particular, perpectual growth
> forever is not just a mathematical and physical impossibility
> on our planet, it's also mode of economics and 'development' (quite
> often 'destruction' in reality, already today) that is on a path which
> from a purely factual, non-emotive view, is a suicidal path.
>
> Some thoughts in the two-part essay on the broad forest
> rather than the trees, including plenty of science and footnotes, after
> the
> more poetic beginning http://www.economicdemocracy.org/longtermview/
>
> > Could you address this topic more, please?
>
> See above essay...but most importantly, our task is made
> much simpler by the lucky fact that without knowing exactly,
> precisely, how the complex issues play out, sanity and survival,
> and the precautionary principle, and not betting the planet on one
> solution, and avoiding climate catastrophe, and averting
> disasters with fish stocks collapsing, with water supplies, with peak
> oil,
> inter alia, all point to the same general direction: sharply cutting
> down use of and phasing in elimination of fossil fuels; decentralized
> energy instead of centralized Big Energy, local solutions and working
> towards a steady-state rather than perpetual-growth economic
> system.... so we know which general direction is the right way to walk,
> regaredless of how the specifics play out on whether A turns out to be
> a small disastesr or a large one,
> whether feedback loop B turns out to be amenable (or not) to techno-fix
> on
> time, regardless of whether C is what we really will end up worrying
> most
> about, etc...the above directions (and much more...google for
> permaculture
> and "relocalization" are good places to start) are the ones we know
> are the ones to try walking towards. There is no guarantee that by
> doing so
> we will avert disaster or even ensure human life will continue; given
> however
> that staying the course with perpetual-growth and fossil fuels *does*
> guarantee
> a nasty, non-linearly sharply worsening future at some point, and
> probably
> not a very distant point, the only way forward is clear, a sort of
> Pascal's Wager: given option one leads to certain disaster, and option
> two leads not to certain, but to
> possible survival, the latter is the only one a sane and moral person
> would choose..
>
> ED/hb
>
> = = = =
> Sorry, we cannot read/reply to most usenet posts but welcome email
> FOR MORE INFORMATION: http://EconomicDemocracy.org/wtc/ (peace)
> http://economicdemocracy.org/eco/climate-summary.html (Climate)
> And http://EconomicDemocracy.org/ (general)
>
> ** ANTI-SPAM NOTE: For EMAIL "info" and "map" DON'T work. Email to
> ** m-a-i-l-m-a-i-l (without the dashes)at economicdemocracy.org instead


John Fernbach
2006-08-01 11:54:47 EST

raylopez99 wrote his usual nonsense, but with some
admixture of very interesting information embedded in it.

I'll leave in the bulk of the interesting discussion and
skip down to the end, where I reply to Ray's corporate
PR bullshit.

Don't get me wrong, Ray. I love ya, man, and
I don't take your "flame bait" posts personally.

And I thank you for the information about Christy.
But the conclusion you draw from it is absurd, as
usual. More on this below. - John Fernbach.
>
>
> What CNN may not tell you, even Christy, one of the so called
> "skeptics" admits this in the above article: "[Even Christy] is
> convinced that human activities are the major cause of the global
> warming that has been measured," and that "It is scientifically
> inconceivable that after changing forests into cities, turning millions
> of acres into farmland, putting massive quantities of soot and dust
> into the atmosphere and sending quantities of greenhouse gases into the
> air, that the natural course of climate change hasn't been increased in
> the past century.''"
> ==
>
> So, should we be paying attention more to Christy?
>
> ==
> Yet he is quoted out of context as a "skeptic" in mainstream media
> (with Straw Men about 'let's not claim the world will end tomorrow"
> (which no one does) and the public still thinks there is a "debate"
> about whether climate change is real and furthermore, is mostly (see
> "the major cause" above and other similar quotes elsewhere) is mostly
> human caused
> ==
>
> Do you agree with this statement "with Straw Men about 'let's not claim
> the world will end tomorrow" (which no one does)"?
>
> Then how do you reconcile it with your other statements about "runaway
> greenhouse gas warming" and "releasing methane (runway warming"?

It's one thing to say "the world will end tomorrow" or "global warming
threatens the continued existence of the human race!" Those statements
both are wrong.

It's another thing entirely to say that we're on the verge of stumbling
into a "runaway greenhouse gas warming" situation that could cause
IMMENSE disasters, even if those disasters didn't cause the end of the
world.

This year's California heat wave has killed 141 people, the last I
looked,
and reduced the output of California agribusiness in the Central Valley
by
something like 15-20%.

That's "NOT THE END OF THE WORLD," and
any environmentalist who says it is is a damned idiot. But it's pretty
damned gruesome for the families of the 141 people who died, and it's
pretty horrible for the farmers, and it may drive up food prices for
the rest of us.

If Global Climate Change brings us more heat waves like this one, will
this be the "Left Behind" series, the end of the world with the
Antichrist
appearing and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse riding across the
sky?

No. But if global climate change brings us more disasters like the
California heat wave -- or like the Indian heat wave of a year or so
ago
that killed hundreds of people -- or like the damage that Hurricane
Katrina did to New Orleans in 2005 -- then "runaway carbon dioxide
warming" will be BAD ENOUGH.

> If you are not claiming the world will end tommorow then logically you
> should be in favor of a gradual carbon tax and long-term studying of
> the problem, with a "wait and see" attitude.

Ray - :-) You're a very clever and sometimes funny man, and I'm sure
you recognize this
statement for the logical BS that it is.

Your "IF" and your "THEN" in this statement don't connect with each
other.
Also, you've constructed your "IF" to represent one logical extreme,
with no
gray shading to it, no qualifications, and then you've constructed your
"THEN" to be equally extreme and nonsensical.

So although your sentence is fine grammatically, its implication is
absurd.

"If you are not claiming the world will end tomorrow" -- well, let's
pause here.

we might be claiming that although the world won't end, ongoing
global climate change is STILL giving us get more huge and
powerful hurricanes, more deadly heat waves, more Western wildlfires,
and more agriculturally destructive droughts.

Should we all sit back and adopt a "wait and see" attitude while
these lesser human disasters are occurring -- because hey, at least
it's not the end of the world?

"I don't care if I have termites in
my house, just so long as the sucker's not on fire"?

No, obviously not.

The world doesn't have to be ending in the Battle of Armageddon for it
to
be a good idea for people to fix some problem. And the only response
to a certain amount of uncertainty doesn't have to be taking a "wait
and see attitude."

Also, taking a "wait and see" attitude on global climate change is
likely to be
particularly costly because of the immense inertia built into the
world's
fossil-based energy economy.

There are billions if not trillions of dollars
of capital investment sunk in the planet's existing oil fields, coal
mines,
electric power plants, automobile plants, etc. There are tens of
thousands
of working people who depend on these industries for jobs, and large
numbers of capitalist investors [boo! hiss! in my view] who get
incomes
from investments in these industries.

The LAST thing we should be doing about a problem that may force us
to phase out these industries, then, is "take a wait and see attitude."
Because
if we wait and see until it looks like the problem is inescapable, and
we have
to get rid of the planet's oil, coal and automobile industries ALL AT
ONCE,
this is a recipe for total chaos.

It's like steering an ocean liner; if you want the thing to turn, you
have to
start moving the wheel and the rudder a mile or two miles or even more
before you get to the turning point. You can't turn an ocean liner on
a dime; if you try, you'll run the Titanic into the damned iceberg.

Similarly, we need to start turning the world energy economy NOW,
bit by bit, if we want to reduce its CO2 emissions 50 years from now.
If we wait until global climate change is so huge that we HAVE to
change immediately - we risk global economic disaster.

I like your proposal for a "gradual carbon tax," however.

At least that's moving in the direction of pushing the capitalist
market
to tackle the problem, not just waiting for Armageddon to hit.

> RL


Raylopez99
2006-08-01 17:37:55 EST
john fernbach wrote:
> raylopez99 wrote his usual nonsense, but with some
> admixture of very interesting information embedded in it.

john wrote his usual prolix stuff, with a few interesting titbits.


> Similarly, we need to start turning the world energy economy NOW,
> bit by bit, if we want to reduce its CO2 emissions 50 years from now.
> If we wait until global climate change is so huge that we HAVE to
> change immediately - we risk global economic disaster.
>

But JF, haven't you read the reports that say even if we stop all CO2
today, the built in CO2 will still effect temperatures for the next 100
years, and just about as much as if we continue to pollute CO2? I
guess you don't buy these reports, even though they are written by
reputable scientists.

> I like your proposal for a "gradual carbon tax," however.
>

Thanks. I think a carbon tax phased in over 25 years would do the
trick, and not hurt Big Oil too much.


> At least that's moving in the direction of pushing the capitalist
> market
> to tackle the problem, not just waiting for Armageddon to hit.
>

Yes, one of the few things government is good for (though I believe
private corporations and planned communities at the local level could
do a better job) is getting rid of negative externalities and promoting
positive externalities.

RL


John Fernbach
2006-08-01 20:56:46 EST

raylopez99 wrote:
> john fernbach wrote:
> > raylopez99 wrote his usual nonsense, but with some
> > admixture of very interesting information embedded in it.
>
> john wrote his usual prolix stuff, with a few interesting titbits.

Thanks, Ray.
>
> > Similarly, we need to start turning the world energy economy NOW,
> > bit by bit, if we want to reduce its CO2 emissions 50 years from now.
> > If we wait until global climate change is so huge that we HAVE to
> > change immediately - we risk global economic disaster.
> >
>
> But JF, haven't you read the reports that say even if we stop all CO2
> today, the built in CO2 will still effect temperatures for the next 100
> years, and just about as much as if we continue to pollute CO2? I
> guess you don't buy these reports, even though they are written by
> reputable scientists.

Ray - This is another non-sequitur. I haven't bought the reports, but
I've heard of them. But it seems likely to me that they're an added
argument for the wisdom of beinning to act NOW.

If we don't do anything, we won't only lock in global warming for the
next 100 years -- we'll commit ourselves to even more CO2 emissions and
even more climate change, extending well into .. what, the 22nd century
AD / CE?

Your argument reminds me of what my Dad, a dedicated cigarette smoker,
first said when he was diagnosed with emphysema. "I realize that my
smoking caused this,
but now that I've got it, I think it's possible that if I keep smoking,
I'll suppress the symptoms somewhat. Whereas if I quit now, I'm going
to suffer" was the gist of it.

Needless to say, his doctor gently talked him out of this delusional
reasoning,
and he did quit smoking within a month. Which probably gave him some
additional years of life, although he sure didn't live forever.

I say that when you get emphysema, it's time to quit, Ray. It's not
time to screw around and say, "Well, I've already bought myself some
gruesome years ahead, so let's continue." If you continue, you're
going to make your illness worse.

Let's quit, okay?

> > I like your proposal for a "gradual carbon tax," however.
> >
>
> Thanks. I think a carbon tax phased in over 25 years would do the
> trick, and not hurt Big Oil too much.
>
>
> > At least that's moving in the direction of pushing the capitalist
> > market
> > to tackle the problem, not just waiting for Armageddon to hit.
> >
>
> Yes, one of the few things government is good for (though I believe
> private corporations and planned communities at the local level could
> do a better job) is getting rid of negative externalities and promoting
> positive externalities.
>
> RL

As a nervous Green socialist, I mostly disagree on the private
corporations. Although in line with Marx and Engels in "The Communist
Manifesto," I would agree that capitalist corporations excel at one
thing above all -- rapid, even revolutionary innovations in technology.
So if we want to create a "green" energy economy in a hurry, we might
want to pay capitalist corporations to create it.

Although I think we also better fence them in with a hell of a lot of
social oversight and government regulations, because otherwise they'll
use their creation to swindle and oppress a fair number of people --
which is their nature. But as engines for technological change -- at
least, certain KINDS of technological change -- capitalist corporations
can't be beat.

I do think a great deal of careful economic analysis had better go into
just what incentives and disincentives we provide to the corporations,
however. Market failures and externalities are known problems with all
capitalist market economies, just as the perversities of central
economic planning and the "free rider" problem in motivating people to
work are known problems with all Soviet-style socialist economies.

If we're counting on capitalist corporations to do what we want them to
do -- e.g. build a new solar-powered or wind-powered economy -- some
economic genius with a strong business background had better sketch out
ways to insure that the companies have the right incentives to achieve
the objective, and not something completely different.

In terms of "locally planned communities" making decisions rather than
huge government bureaucracies -- that's mostly fine by me.

The anarchists are big on local decision making, and even Marx at times
described the ideal economy of the future as a "cooperative
commonwealth," in which the State as he thought of it would disappear,
or be "smashed."

I think classical Marxists and anarchists are both wildly optimistic
about the chances of completely doing away with the state -- because of
the externalities problem, if for no other reason. I think this just
ain't gonna happen, and that we wouldn't like the results if it did.

But I think the basically libertarian impulse here, and the basic
distrust of careerist politicians and bureaucratic empire builders, is
pretty sound.

The more that a Green society can rely on local community
decision-making, obviously with everyone having a voice in that
decision-making, the better. I don't think most environmentalists
would want the Corps of Engineers, for example, to be in change of
Green economic planning.

Better the Vermont town meeting -- so long as the problem is of a size
that the Vermont town meeting can handle.

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