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Friday, March 16, 2007

They're Blinding Us With Science

Stop the presses! A new report has just come in from MIT, that bastion of scientific knowledge:

"My calculations are complete!"

Their report is called "The Future of Coal" and discusses the subject that has everyone buzzing at cocktail parties and backyard barbeques: carbon capture and storage. For those who haven't been making the social rounds, CCS is a fancy name for grabbing carbon dioxide on its way up the smokestack and somehow shoving it into a hole in the ground. The conclusion of the bright minds at MIT: Massive coal use in the future is inevitable, but it won't be bad for climate change if the US government gets on board, invents real CCS technology, and makes everybody use it.

Thanks for that, learned ones! It sounds great, except for a few missing bits of the big picture: a) coal is bad for the environment on every level, from mining to pollutants to global warming, regardless of CCS; b) resources that go into developing CCS won't go into developing a future free of fossil fuels; c) CCS is at least decades away, and may never work; d) the US government isn't anywhere near to requiring it, to put it mildly; e) it isn't clear where we would get the money or resources to build the massive nation-wide system for moving liquid CO2 from wherever it's captured to wherever it's buried; f) it'll mostly be used to push more oil out of existing oil fields, making global warming worse; and g) adoption by the US wouldn't guarantee buy-in by China, India, or any of the other big coal-users. Other than that, we're saved!

Will the last scientist to submerge under rising sea levels, still arguing about the latest technological fantasy that will solve all our problems, please turn out the lights? No skin off my little green nose -- I'll be floating on a lily pad.