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RE: [cdn-nucl-l] [Fwd: Global Warming, Not Just Heat Wave]
Michael English wrote:
From: email@example.com.McMaster.CA on behalf of English, Michael
Sent: Mon 7/24/2006 6:12 AM
Subject: RE: [cdn-nucl-l] [Fwd: Global Warming, Not Just Heat Wave]
On a related note, I've been thinking about global warming and how to slow/stop/reverse it. Seems to me that science is suggesting the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is the culprit. The way I see it, the only way to stop that concentration from increasing is to stop burning fossil fuels altogether. I doubt this is feasible in the short or even near term.
People talk about planting trees, but trees are carbon neutral, meaning they absorb CO2 for their lifetime, but give it up again after they die, unless they're buried at some depth sufficient to effectively sequester the CO2 (kind of like how our fossil fuels came to be). Is (total) carbon sequestration the answer to all, or even most, of our current problems? And by this I mean the answer besides switching to a full-scale nuclear-generated electric society :) Can we build enromous great CO2 "scrubbing" plants (think big versions of what are used on submarines, for example) to take the CO2 out of the atmosphere? What am I missing?
A couple of things you may be missing.
There are potential technologies for capturing and sequestering CO2 generated by point sources like coal- or gas-fired power plants that are being researched, with support from DOE and, I believe, also electrical utilities.
Growing trees and other plants is carbon neutral BUT some of the CO2 that was removed from the atmosphere as the plant grew and returns to the atmosphere when it is burned or decays will be capture in ocean biomass and a fraction of that will sink to the ocean floor as biological detritus. That is atmospheric CO2 that has been effectively sequestered.
As far as "scrubbing" the atmosphere, the economics is daunting.
My personal feeling is that sequestration of CO2 will not be as important as switching to biomass, nuclear, wind, solar, wave/tidal power, and conservation.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
These comments are mine and have ot been reviewed and/or approved by my management or by the U.S. Department of Energy.