25 April 2013

The Importance of Carbon Capture to the Climate Debate

UPDATE: The journal Climatic Change has a special issue on this subject just out, it is open access and can be found here.

Dan Sarewitz and I have a piece just out in The Atlantic on the importance of carbon capture to the debate over climate change. Here is how the short piece starts out:
Today, more than 85 percent of the world’s energy still comes from fossil fuels. Despite centuries of growing use, these fuels remain abundant. Powerful economic and political interests are organized around the fossil-energy system, as are complex social arrangements (consider, for example, the dependence of rapidly expanding cities on conventional electrical grids).

These realities have made a mockery of the 20-plus years of international efforts to wean the world off oil, coal, and natural gas. That doesn’t mean we should stop trying; when it comes to climate-change mitigation, a shift to carbon-free energy remains the Platonic ideal. Yet it is past time to acknowledge that on any given day, “Drill, baby, drill!” is in fact a highly effective strategy for continuing to deliver the many benefits of cheap energy.

As a result, it’s also past time to explore more seriously a parallel path to reducing greenhouse gases—one focused not on moving off fossil fuels, but on capturing the carbon that these fuels emit.
Head over to The Atlantic to read the whole thing.

Dan and I last conspired on a piece in The Atlantic on climate change back in 2000 (Al Gore was on the cover, with fangs;-). Here is that oldie-but-goodie as well.

We'd welcome your comments. Thanks!