Archive for December, 2006

People are reading my thesis?

Thanks to Aurora for pointing me to this article by green design heavyweight Brad Allenby, which references my thesis heavily. He pulls out what I think is a rather good quote and takes it as support for a “fundamental shift in the climate change debate”. The technology for capturing CO2 from ambient air that I describe, as well as other geoengineering schemes, he writes, allow us to separate climate change mitigation from fossil fuel use.

He goes on to argue that this shift allows us to disentangle the need to mitigate climate change with the desire of “many environmentalists and climate change scientists” to change US-style consumption patterns, a conclusion that I don’t agree with. At least, I don’t think anything in my assessment of ambient carbon capture technology indicates drastic changes in developed-world consumption are not needed. I suppose you may draw your own conclusions about the viability of current consumption patterns, but I think ambient carbon capture at the kinds of costs I calculated only makes sense as a complement to extensive restructuring of the economy to be more energy-efficient and driven by carbon-neutral energy sources. I suppose I always knew that a danger of promoting ambient carbon capture is that it can be used as an excuse to avoid or put off doing the more obvious stuff to reduce CO2 emissions.

Of course, I don’t believe that Allenby is trying to delay action on climate change. He seems to be looking at a change in the debate as a way to catalyze more aggressive mitigation measures. He also makes in interesting point about input from a broader range of actors being needed now that we have the freedom to choose any level of atmospheric CO2.

In other news, I got an email out of the blue from a man in Arizona who wants to build one or more pilot plants modeled on the prototype CO2 capture system I built for my research. He claims to be willing to put down a couple hundred thousand dollars of personal financing to get it started, and that he “may do something unusual (and legal) to raise some short term cash”. I have not yet determined his seriousness, but I guess it’s good that he’s keeping it legal.

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