Trump’s Carbon Capture Tax Break: Mechanical and Biological Paths

Yves here. I wish I could be more optimistic about ways to combat climate change and species loss. But I;m as guilty as anyone. Even though I don’t drive a car and live in an apartment, which reduces my carbon footprint, and mainly eat low on the food chain (but I’m not a vegan), I fly on airplanes, which pretty much offsets the rest of my good behavior. That’s a long-winded way of saying we need massive lifestyle changes now in advanced economies, as well and quite a few in emerging economies too, and that just isn’t happening. Idea like the one below are helpful but can’t go far enough fast enough.

By Roy Morrison, whose latest book is Sustainability Sutra. He works on solar farms and dual-cropping for farmers to produce both food and renewable energy

Our recent business friendly Trump tax cut extravaganza now makes capturing carbon emissions from fossil fuels probably economic by paying $30 dollars a ton for carbon capture and storage. Compared to pollution and ecocide as usual this may be a good idea, as suggested by MIT Technology Review on April 25th.

Financial engineering has finally opened the door for carbon capture and storage. Tax subsidies for carbon capture are now part of our latest corporate friendly tax overhaul. The credit under U.S. Code 45Q Credit for Carbon Sequestration would provide $30 a ton benefit for the first 75 million metric tons of sequestered carbon or $2.25 billion. This could be the start of something big. A $30 dollar a ton tax credit subsidy for carbon dioxide capture and storage (CSS) means the cash registers are ringing. Wall Street is mobilized.

Fossil fuel plants generate huge amounts of carbon dioxide by weight because one atom of carbon combines with two atoms of oxygen. This means an average of 1.2 pounds of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour of fossil fuel electricity. A thousand megawatt fossil fuel plant at 70% capacity factor would produce 3.7 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.

At $30 a ton this means $111 million dollars in tax equity a year. Every year. Not a one time thing like the solar ITC. For solar, tax equity investors take advantage of the 30% solar energy investment tax credit (ITC) are typically cash rich insurance companies or family offices, the quaint term for the administrators of the wealth of the very rich,who want to avoid taxes and make even more money without lifting a finger. Power plant owners may have requisite tax appetite to take advantage of carbon capture tax credits themselves so the tax credit is a direct benefit to these companies and their stockholders.

Allegedly this tax subsidy subsidy will lead to decreasing costs and will phase out. Allegedly. But history suggests otherwise in particular in regard to fossil fuel subsidies, and with this one supported by coal miners and environmentalists alike. And both Wall Street and Technology Review believes that scouring carbon from the air is inevitably to follow if we are to save ourselves.

It is certainly better paying polluters not to poison as much to avoid ecological catastrophe,mass extinction and an end to what we call advanced “civilization”.

Dodging the Threat of Stranded Assets by Fighting Climate Change

Globally coal plants are being shut down because they are simply not competitive with renewables and natural gas. The greatest threat to the fossil fuel imperium is the increasing inability to compete with zero fuel cost renewables combined with limitations on unabated carbon dioxide pollution to save us from ecological catastrophe.

We should understand that by adding carbon capture subsidies to keep fossil fuels economic and ecologically tolerable is also very much about preserving the trillions of dollars in anticipated value of coal and oil in the ground by subsidizing zero or low enough emitting fossil fuel combustion. This is guaranteed to warm the hearts of the Koch Brothers, Exxon Mobile, Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, and OPEC. It also preserves the value of millions of dollars of fossil fuel generation and heating plants that are becoming stranded assets in face of renewable competition.

Utility plant is still the largest global agglomeration of machine capital all of which is likely to be abandoned in the face of increasingly cheap wind, solar and storage batteries. Hawaii for example, committed to 100% renewable power, has just passed a law mandating a completely new utility rate structure based not on power sales and plant investment , but on efficiency and making the system favorable for renewable development. Hawaii electric is getting out of the fossil fuel business and will make money as coordinator and facilitator if the renewable energy grid. Efficiency and distributed renewables are no longer threats to the utility bottomline, but the basis of profit. This is a crucial transformation that must be followed nationally and globally for real market incentives for a renewable energy future.

Right now the DOE is attempting to provide subsidies without pollution mitigation in the name of “grid reliability”and “grid security” and subsidize coal and nuke plants that cannot compete with renewables and with natural gas.That is the old time religion and has less than overwhelming support since it benefits only a very few at the expense financially and ecologically of the many,, and at the same time, severely damaging exiting competitive electricity markets in an exercise of lemon socialism. Ratepayers are supposed to pay more and be rewarded with nothing. These plants if non-economic are certainly for sale. To keep them open (which I oppose completely) they should be sold for pennies on the dollar to a willing buyer or shut down. Not one quarter more of fossil fuel subsidies.

Fossil fuels will not be able to compete with zero fuel cost renewables absent ever rising subsidies such as paying companies with tax credits or other emoluments for not polluting. This is all about maintaining the value of oil and coal assets in the ground by subsidy for ever.

The essential market problem is driven by the nature of renewables and ecologically unsustainability of fossil fuels.

Sun, wind, water fuel cost is zero. And renewable capital cost continues to drop and efficacy continues to increase.This creates a problem in that to afford the costs of the fossil fuel chain and remain competitive, fossil fuel burners must receive an ever increasing amount of subsidy.

The notion advanced in Technology Review that an alleged incapacity of renewables in northern climates (“wind too strong” “not enough sun”) is a fanciful, not data driven assertion. And one that’s used to justify an endless subsidy regime for fossil fuels.

Industrial Nostalgia

A coal museum now has solar panels. This is where the storied history of fossil fuels belongs, in a solar powered museum of the history of fossil fuel powered industrialism. The story of coal miners, of wildcatter, and roughnecks on oil rigs, of the Big Aliss turbine on the Hudson (for Aliss-Chambers) powering N.Y. City. It’s “16 tons what do you get, another day older and deeper in debt…”

I once passed a course and became a certified steam boiler operator to improve my skills as institutional energy auditor. At the time, I was fascinated by the big machines with their maze of water tubes and explosion doors on the top to release pressure in case something went wrong. We burned sludgy No 6, bunker oil plant that needed to be heated in order to be pumped into the combustion nozzles at the University of New Hampshire boiler plant.

Now the jobs are being created in the hundreds of thousands by solar and wind. The roughnecks can work on building and maintaining wind farms from prairie to the deep ocean.Every large wind farm is supported by a machine shop.

Scrubbing Carbon Dioxide from Atmosphere

MIT jumps from the glories of subsidizing carbon capture to suggest that mechanically removing carbon from the atmosphere will be almost certain to be needed next step. This is a motor head solution as opposed to using carbon sequestration from land and ocean biomass and soil. To choose the path to follow to reduce atmospheric carbon, to remove gigatons of carbon dioxide from the ,atmosphere we should turn first to the power inherent in the biosphere to restore a favorable ecological balance.

It’s important to understand the Eocene Thermal Maximum (ETM) period of 55 millions years ago millions years ago. Driven by carbon dioxide and methane from volcanism, global temperatures soared on an ice free planet. The ETM extreme temperatures and carbon dioxide led eventually, in the open Arctic ocean, to enormous plant blooms in the ocean that feasted on gigatons of CO-2 on an overheated planet and helped establish the current carbon balance and de-acidify the oceans.

The deliberate growth and cultivation of sea plants such as kelp and duckweed and micro-algae forests is a key pathway to sequestered the gigatons of carbon to help reverse climate change and clash ocean acidity before it is too late. Huge and rapidly growing biomass can provide not just carbon sequestration but food and and energy through bio-methane potentially sufficient to replace all fossil fuels.

A chemical engineering study by Antoine de Ramon N‘Yeurta “Negative Carbon via Ocean Afforestation” estimated that ocean plants can solve our global climate, energy, and food problems. Micro-algae forest covering 9% of ocean could produce enough bio-methane to replace all fossil fuels while removing 53 gigatons per year of carbon from the atmosphere and restoring preindustrial levels of carbon. The enormous growth of ocean biomass would also increase sustainable fish production sufficient to provide 440 pounds of protein per year for 10 billion people. There are related and enormously promising proposals for fast growing ocean plants like kelp and duckweed.

This would be an enormous undertaking, but it is driven by the use of the natural processes of plants in the ocean feeding on carbon dioxide and using photosynthesis to create enormous amount of biomass. It should be a matter of immediate attention before we decide the only choice is building millions of machines to attempt to scrub carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Let nature do it instead. The biosphere is a co-evolutionary system designed to restore a sustainable balance in the interest of life. Human choices to choose to employ the power of ocean biomass as opposed to legions of machines is another manifestation of sustainability.

The co-evolutionary forces of sustainability, the ecosphere responding to all influences in a fashion that reshapes the planet to support life in all its diversity will likely, as it has in the past, enable survival after the mass extinction of the Anthropocene. But it’s preferable for us acting quickly enough to avoid mass extinction.

Yes we need a plan, in my view, 8 four year plans from 2018 to 2050 to get to a global carbon dioxide equivalent emissions of 21 gigatons per year (3 tons of carbon per person per year(or less) as global standard for each us everywhere) combined with aggressive steps for carbon sequestration on land and sea in multi-gigatons per year level. Agriculture,forestry, aquaculture should be paid for carbon removal instead of subsidizing continued use of fossil fuels. At the very least, natural sequestration of carbon should be paid similar amounts as mechanical carbon capture.

Better to pay the devil some now and save the ourselves from ecological catastrophe. The economics of renewables will provide clear global answers for climate change soon enough.


Fact check:

Daunting Math of Climate Change May Need Carbon Capture
Technology Review April 25, 2018
U.S. Code 45Q

Tax Benefits for Carbon Capture

Negative carbon via Ocean Afforestation

Ocean Afforestation, more precisely Ocean Macroalgal Afforestation (OMA), has the potential to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations through expanding natural populations of macroalgae, which absorb carbon dioxide,then are harvested to produce biomethane and biocarbon dioxide via anaerobic digestion. The plant nutrients remaining after digestion are recycled to expand the algal forest and increase fish populations. A mass balance has been calculated from known data and applied to produce a life cycle assessment and economic analysis. This analysis shows the potential of Ocean Afforestation to produce 12 billion tons per year of biomethane while storing 19 billion tons of CO2 per year directly from biogas production, plus up to 34 billion tons per year from carbon capture of the biomethane combustion exhaust. These rates are based on macro-algae forests covering 9% of the world’s ocean surface, which could produce sufficient biomethane to replace all of today’s needs in fossil fuel energy,while removing 53 billion tons of CO2 per year from the atmosphere, restoring pre-industrial levels. This amount of biomass could also increase sustainable fish production to potentially provide 200 kg/yr/person for 10 billion people. Additional benefits are reduction in ocean acidification and increased ocean primary productivity and biodiversity.

Antoine de Ramon N‘Yeurta, David P. Chynowethb, Mark E. Capronc,∗,
Jim R. Stewartd, Mohammed A. Hasanc
© 2012 The Institution of Chemical Engineers. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Reversing climate change

Duck weed and ETM

Another significant discovery came in layers from 49 million years ago, where conditions suddenly fostered the summertime growth of vast mats of an ancient cousin of the Azolla duckweed that now cloaks suburban ponds. The researchers propose that this occurred when straits closed between the Arctic Ocean and the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

The flow of water from precipitation and rivers created a great pool of fresh water, but about 800,000 years after the blossoming of duckweed began, it ended with a sudden warming of a few additional degrees. The researchers suggest that this signaled when shifting land formations reconnected the Arctic with the Atlantic, allowing salty, warmer water to flow in, killing off the weed.

The researchers said the sediments held hints that Earth’s long slide to colder conditions, and the recent cycle of ice ages and brief thaws, began quite soon after the hothouse conditions 50 million years ago. A centerpiece of their argument is a single pebble, about the size of a chickpea, found in a layer created 45 million years ago.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. drumlin woodchuckles

    It is good to see the possibility of plant-driven carbon-suckdown and bio-sequestration being featured in a posted article. This means the concept is moving from the fringes of awareness as expressed in random lonely comments . . . to the center of awareness as expressed in a hosted post itself. This will open various pathways of permission to think further about carbon sequestration in farmland and pasture-and-range soil systems, CHAB ( Combined Heat And Biochar) Units for some energy yield and some carbon bio-capture, etc.

    A minor quibble . . .Azolla is a fern rather than being a “higher plant”. It is a freshwater plant. It fixes nitrogen as well as capturing carbon. That means that whatever nitrogen is biologically fixed by deliberately grown Azolla can displace nitrogen artificially fixed by the Haber-Bosch process, thereby displacing all the fossil fuel not burned anymore to not produce the Haber-Bosch nitrogen fertilizer anymore that Azolla has been grown to bio-fix instead. Here is a link to Azolla.

    Duckweeds are also a group of freshwater plants. They are “higher plants” ( in their case, monocots). They could also be grown en masse for harvest by skimming off the surface of the water and then composted or fed to animals or whatever. I have read somewhere that duckweeds harbor nitrogen-fixing bacteria living on their roots. If that is correct, they also fix nitrogen as well as capturing carbon, potentially leading to even MORE displacement of Haber-Bosch nitrogen . . . leading to even MORE shutdown of fossil fuel burning to not produce the Haber-Bosch nitrogen anymore which the duckweeds would be producing instead. Here is a link about duckweed.

    Of course the Trump carbon-capture tax subsidy is designed to Make Coal Profitable Again. It would take a movement of a hundred million people or more to reconquer the government and shut down such Coal Based Initiatives as this so-called “carbon capture tax subsidy”. And the only way to have a movement of a hundred million people or more is to begin with a few people Living Their Witness in terms of reducing their fossil carbon usage and especially their electricity usage most of all, because electricity is the most fuel-intensive form of applied energy there is. If a few people Living Their Witness can expand to a few thousand and then a few hundred thousand and then a few million and then more millions up to that necessary hundred million, that movement-load of people would be strangling and choking off the revenue streams reaching Big Koch and Coal to begin with, making the Merchants of Carbon weaker enough to begin the Civil Cold War task of reconquering their government away from them and making it OUR government to use aGAINST them. And aGAINST their sales of fossil carbon for fuel.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I see that Paul Hawken is using the word “drawdown” where I have been using “suckdown”. “Drawdown” may be a better word, so I will start using it some of the time.

        “Draining the skycarbon” might be a good phrase. Or maybe not.

        We can really get creative in how we think. It might help us get creative in how we do stuff and what stuff we choose to do. For example, it occurred to me to describe all the little pores in every leaf on every plant in the world ( called ‘stomata’) as two-way holes. They are oxygen blowholes and carbon suckholes at the same time. Every plant is full of little drain holes into which the skycarbon is slowly draining.

    1. Michael McKaskle

      The figure I have seen thrown about is 3.5% of a population is all that is needed to foster revolution. That would be about 12 million US Americans, much easier than 100 million. If the US can be reformed we will stop sabotaging the global process and change can happen. My simple global solution, grow Hemp for biomass to turn to charcoal and sequester in the soil, eat the seed protein (or feed to animals) and make diesel from the oil.

  2. JimTan

    Its a shame that we haven’t yet figured out how to properly manipulate the carbon dioxide building up in our environment, because it is valuable and definitely not a waste material.

    Plants through photosynthesis convert Water ( H2O ), and Carbon Dioxide ( CO2 ) from the air, into many useful organic materials composed of different configurations of Carbon Hydrogen and Oxygen molecules. These useful Carbon-Hydrogen-Oxygen containing materials include all sugars, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and dietary fibers derived from plants. They also include wood, cotton, hemp, flax, rubber, and resin. Animals consume these edible materials, and convert them into useful Carbon-Hydrogen-Oxygen content materials like meat, wool, leather, and silk.

    The origin of all these vital materials begins with Water ( H2O ), and Carbon Dioxide ( CO2 ).

    1. RepubAnon

      Yes, plants can pull CO2 out of the atmosphere – assuming we stop cutting down things such as the Amazon rain forests.

      As to ocean farming, carbon dioxide in the water makes it acid. This helps seaweed growth, but dissolves calcium carbonate – harming coral, shellfish, certain species of plankton, etc. Remember the acid rain issues from the last millennium?

      Lastly, “carbon capture” is shaping up as the next big scam. How will it be monitored? How will it be sequestered – and what if (when) those storage sites leak? It sounds ripe for abuse – and there’s no appetite in Washington these days to stop such abuse.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        People for truth in agronomy would have to figure out how to do real data discovery and real analysis in a way that is resistant to scamming and abuse. I think some of them may be equal to the task.

        Carbon-bearing bio-matter in the soil ( “organic matter”) is always within some range of percentages of carbon. If one can figure out “how much” organic matter is in a certain bunch of soil, one can figure out roughly “how much” carbon is in that soil. If agreed-upon ways can be found to find those two things out in a way which satisfies the need for truth-and-accuracy on the part of all agronomic observers, then agronomy can roughly measure the rise or fall of soil-based carbon by figuring out the rise or fall of soil-based organic matter in that particular bunch of soil.

        And if we can figure out how to do that, then we are able to measure how soil carbon levels respond to different agro-management systems and approaches. And the ones which consistently raise soil-carbon levels can be rolled out over more and more agricultural land.

        1. Oregoncharles

          They actually do that all the time, for research, fertility analysis, and so on. It’s just a matter of picking the most appropriate measure – and how to insure that it’s done accurately.

          The simplest is something anyone can do: put a sample of soil (from below the surface, so as not to cheat) in a jar or test tube with enough water to liquefy it, shake thoroughly, then let settle. You’ll see layers. What proportion is black?

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Well then, we even have a way to develop crude but effective measures for how much carbon is building up in any soil-owners soil. Perhaps we just need a way for truth-in-testing verified measurements of soil carbon conducted by third- party soil-carbon measurement-makers.

            If that could be done to the IRS’s satisfaction, then soil-carbon buildup could be tax code farmed even under Trashy Trump’s stupid crummy carbon-capture tax-subsidy concept.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Thanks – I was going to bring up soil storage of carbon, the gist of your link.

      Morrison’s proposal has one big advantage: there’s a whole lot more ocean than soil, and no restrictions on water supply. OTOH, the growth has to be pulled out of the water and processed in order to be useful, as he proposes, where soil storage is a byproduct of regenerative agriculture – with a double payoff, since it increases fertility.

      Confusingly (and building on DW’s comment, above), azolla and duckweed both depend on fresh water – lakes – and therefore have a much more limited application. (The article describes the Arctic Ocean being turned into a freshwater lake, apparently by tectonic movements). Azolla, especially, could have its uses, but marine algae would have a vastly larger application.

      The chief problem with biological CO2 storage for tax or financial purposes is that it’s a lot harder to measure. I can just imagine trying to convince the IRS of how much carbon you’ve pumped, invisibly, into your dirt. But it’s the only approach that could economically operate on a sufficient scale.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Of course, if we adopted the James Hansen feetax-and-dividend system against every fossil fuel at the mine mouth or the well head, then we could begin punishing the use of fossil fuels throughout the economy. And the dividend paid out to every legal resident of the US . . . . raised by charging these anti-fossil-carbon fees at the mine mouth and well head . . . . could be used by every one of those legal residents getting their carbon feebate-taxbate dividend and spending it on whatever they wish to buy.

        Hansen’s theory is that things grown or made with “less” fossil carbon input will cost less than things grown or made with “more” fossil carbon input, because every bit of fossil carbon input will be charged for by the merchants of fossil carbon passing the cost of the feetaxes on to the consumers of their fossil carbon product. In Hansen’s plan, the level of the anti-fossil-carbon feetax will begin at the inconvenient level and be raised every year or so from inconvenient to uncomfortable to painful to excruciatingly torturous. If oil costed a thousand dollars a barrel, people would use less of it. If coal costed a thousand dollars a ton, people would use less of it.

        Under such a punitive-pricing Hansen feetax regime, we wouldn’t have to try convincing the IRS of anything. Restoring bio-carbon reserves and functions to the soil would allow the soil system to provide agricultural services which currently de-carbonized soil requires purchased fossil-carbon-based inputs to perform. For example, if your bio-rich soil is full on nitrogen fixation organisms of many kinds, you won’t need to buy any fossil natural-gas-based Haber-Bosch nitrogen fertilizer. You will be rewarded by escaping fossil carbon costs instead of by farming the tax code.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Two different programs here. The carbon tax, rebated or not, serves to penalize release of carbon dioxide in the first place, hopefully reducing the input side.

          Carbon sequestration is actively taking carbon out of the atmosphere once it’s there. Agriculture, in various forms, is probably the most effective way to do that. After all, plants are solar powered. The various high-tech ways that have been proposed are likely to use more carbon than they pull out.

          Unfortunately, we’re past the point where we can do one of the other; we have to do both.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Yes. Each approach deserves to be taken on its own merits. And until millions of people believe in forcing both approaches at once, people will divide over their favorite approach. If enough millions of people support their favorite approach, they can try advancing that approach through society without interfering with the other group’s pushing their favorite approach.

            Lets hope people of the two TAGs ( Theory Action Groups) can avoid poaching members from eachother out of the bitter jealousy which so often motivates people in TAGS. Let every TAG and all its members respectfully leave all the other TAGs alone, and let every TAG do its own thing and we will see what works best and most over time.

  3. JE

    I like the author’s emphasis on bio versus tech approaches to capturing carbon, just wish the article had been proofread. The number of obvious and jarring grammatical errors in this piece made it a struggle to get through for me. A distressingly common result of the economic squeeze placed on content creators I suppose. Even the closing punchline is garbled, watering down the impact of the whole piece.

    However, as Ian Welsh opines and I tend to agree, we’re pretty much past the point of such political solutions:

    Oh, and stay off my (unsustainable) lawn!!

    1. Oregoncharles

      Properly managed grassland sequesters carbon at quite a rate. The timing is important, and having a variety of plants in your lawn. Basically, you need to let it get fairly long before “grazing” it – then either leave the clippings, or use them as fertilizer somewhere else. Assuming you don’t keep grazing animals. The original lawns were sheep pastures.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I was at a talk given by Gabe Brown once. It was an all day talk. In offhand-passing , he mentioned that some researchers in North Dakota determined that grass plants respond differently to being raggedly torn-cut off with a twisting motion as against being smoothly cut off by a blade. The grass plants which were raggedly torn-cut off with a twisting motion grew back faster than grass plants cut smoothly off with a blade.

        And who naturally cuts off grass blades with a raggedly rough-edged twisting motion? Livestock. And also the wild grazers, with whom grass plants have been co-evolving ever since the emergence of grasses and grazing animals in the Oligocene Age.

        1. Oregoncharles

          An argument for using a very dull lawn mower. Any excuse for being lazy is welcome!.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Interesting. Someone should do the research on grass regrowth after dull-bladed lawnmowing as against after sharp-bladed lawnmowing.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Our challenge is to prove Ian Welsh wrong, if we can at this the eleventh hour. And if we did, I think that he, too, would be happy in the long run.

      Reduce the carbon and nitrogen skydumping and raise the skycarbon and sky nitrogen drawdowning ( skydraining) at the same time.

      Maybe we can make the two curves meet and cross in the middle. If it is not too late.

  4. Synoia

    A coal museum now has solar panels. This is where the storied history of fossil fuels belongs, in a solar powered museum of the history of fossil fuel powered industrialism.

    The story of Coal starts with the industrial revolution in the UK. The reason for mining coal (mining was considered a demonic practice) was to provide fuel after the forests were cut down and wood was running out.

  5. charles 2

    For those who don’t want to pay Elsevier to access the paper, you can find all the material at <a
    It is a fun read, but not really a fun life that they describe. The authors consider without batting an eyelid that 100% of “closed seas” like the Mediterranean will be dedicated to algae farming (I am not sure that there will be much CO2 left in it if it is the case). Exit the “big blue”, welcome the “big greenish” (!) : Picture (all figures pulled from the paper) hundred of thousand of small flotillas of 5 small (1 ton) sailboats, operating around 100 tons support barge, working 10 hours a day harvesting 75% of a 1000 km2 surface per year by batches of 0.4 km2 every 5 days … Oh, wait ! It doesn’t add up in a 365 days year ! I guess we’ll need bigger boats…

    However, there is some merit in considering to remove CO2 from the ocean and not from the air, because CO2 in the air is much more diluted. A good approach IMHO is the one developed by the Navy as a byproduct of hydrogen production by electrolysis. Such hydrogen can be used in fuel cells, clean combustion, or ammonia synthesis. The CO2 is extracted with practically no additional energy cost. Of course, it has to be compressed and stored somewhere, and, for this to work, electricity must come from your preferred carbon free electricity source.

  6. Luke

    The Earth’s atmosphere is what, 21% Oxygen, and 0.04% Carbon Dioxide. So, we have 525 times as much O2 as we do CO2. There is clearly a huge amount of excess capacity by photosynthetic plants to metabolize CO2 into O2, apparently a major limiting factor to their growth. (Plants are currently basically being starved for CO2.) If the CO2 were in fact to go up, the plants would love it, and with higher metabolisms from the higher CO2, predictably would jump on the CO2 and bring it back down to the point they can barely survive (where we are now). It would be Le Chatelier’s Principle on a large scale. So, what’s the problem with humans temporarily returning some of the sedimentary Carbon (that plants in most cases put there in the first place) back to the air?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The problem is that we are returning so much of it so fast all at once that it is de-stabilizing climate to the point where plants over millions of acres are being droughted or insected to death and are rendered unable to eat up any carbon at all whatsoever.

      The heat building up in the oceans is causing thousands of square miles of carbon reefs to expel the CO2-eating algae from out of the coral-animal bodies (coral bleaching). Once expelled, I believe those algae stop photosynthing. I could be wrong about that.

      But those are a couple of examples of where man-made carbon skydumping is outrunning the ability of plants to drawdown the carbon back to an equilibrium.

    2. charles 2

      As mentioned above, the problem is speed. When change is sufficiently slow, evolutionary processes can work out things rather smoothly. Except for the most fragiles, species don’t disappear, but a selection of individuals fitter to the new conditions just emerge. When the change is fast (such as a meteorite or a mega eruption, most species don’t have time to select the fittest individual, they just disappear. This is what is happening now. Even the strongest species don’t come unscathed, their population drops dramatically. Humans are a strong species, so is likely to survive as such, but extreme release of CO2 will change the environment so much that there will be very unpleasant drop in global population, and don’t believe that only poor countries will be affected.

      One could argue that a significant drop in global population is due anyway because of resource depletion, but there is a big difference between a controlled drop where we keep our institutions and our technical knowledge or a collapse that brings us back to the middle ages : As we will have consumed the fossil fuels that are really the “match” to jumpstart a technological civilisation, we may never be able to do it again.

      Contrary to what some “greens” think, this is not a good thing. One fundamental piece of knowledge we acquired in the XXth century is that planet Earth has a shelf date : In about a billion year or so, there won’t be a single molecule of DNA left on the planet. There is only one species that has a chance to escape : it is humans with a lot of “mechanical” technology. Let’s not spoil our current opportunity.

  7. Luke

    As noted in Peter Huber’s book “Hard Green”, despite the U.S.’s substantial use of fossil fuels, air entering the U.S. from the NW actually contains more CO2 than when it leaves to the SE. Yes, the U.S. is a net REDUCER of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere, unlike India, China, or Europe. This is due to our reforestation programs (more of the U.S. is forested now than was in 1900) and our massive landfilling of cellulose (paper, cardboard, wood, etc.), which is a way to sequester Carbon. So, the rest of the world may need and deserve the Kyoto Treaty, being part of the (possible) problem. The U.S. does not deserve it, not being part of the problem.

    Further, the fraud among grant-accepting Earth/climate scientists (the only proposals that get funded are ones that claim humans cause GW) is so extreme, it approaches Lysenkoism. Just look up the East Anglia email scandal to see just how rampant, even routine, that is.

    Anyway, the energies required long-term affect climate on an entire planet are just too enormous, relative to human powers at this time.

    Environmentalists in my experience commonly want almost everyone else to die off, but figure they have ironclad reservations for first-class ark staterooms, despite rarely having any critical or often even useful skills.

    So, humans causing GW is one worry you can skip. Demographics, now, that’s where you should look, if you want to forsee real doom coming down the pike. For example, if the average IQ continues to drop, eventually we don’t just nearly stop producing the geniuses (nearly all male) who are the origin for virtually all major advances. We won’t even be able to keep the lights on and the water running. Check out Caracas (the technically educated were the first to flee that socialist Hades) and Cape Town as current examples.

  8. drumlin woodchuckles

    As I remember, the East Anglia emails amounted to a million words or so. I would have to read them all to know what they all really add up to meaning. I know that various interested people cherry picked little bits out of them to weaponise and disseminate to advance particular agendas. So I don’t think I could trust the little weaponised bits to tell me what the whole mass of them amount to meaning.

    As to mankind causing the global warming through the mechanism of carbon and nitrogen-oxides skydumping, I remember reading predictions of what such carbon skydumping would lead to several decades ago. I have since seen some of things happen, just as predicted. So the manmade global warming model seems to have some predictive powers, and therefore seems a good working theory to me.

    Based on that, I think comments like yours are just velcro-decoy tarbabies, designed to get our attention and waste our time and energy. Comments like yours are better regarded as damage, to be routed around.

  9. Luke

    Hi, Drumlin. The East Anglia emails showed a consistent, extremely widespread pattern of blatant, Stalinist/North Korean/Baghdad Bob level of complete falsification of data. This was a clearinghouse for climate research, so was not just a local event. You really ought to look into it. (Hint: any website that you KNOW 90% of the people behind it support Democratic Party candidates, like Snopes or CNN, you can skip as untrustworthy and a waste of time.)

    Second, I have multiple hard-science degrees fully relevant to discussions about how the Earth works. If you email me, I will tell you my full name, colleges, and years I graduated, so you can look that up for yourself on the schools’ websites. Not to be rude, but on track here, what sort of education or other background do you bring to the discussion? (Any degrees that didn’t require Calculus, please don’t bother bringing up.)

  10. drumlin woodchuckles

    Dear Mr. Luke,

    Thank you for your interest in my comment. I am always happy to hear from you. Please let me know if you have any other concerns.

  11. Luke

    Drumlin? I don’t begin to understand your last comment. Was that a mod replacing a harsh comment you made with something innocuous, irony on your part, or what?

Comments are closed.