"System change is now inevitable. Either because we do something about it, or because we will be hit by climate change. '...

"We need to develop economic models that are fit for purpose. The current economic frameworks, the ones that dominate our governments, these frameworks... the current economic frameworks, the neoclassical, the market frameworks, can deal with small changes. It can tell you the difference, if a sock company puts up the price of socks, what the demand for socks will be. It cannot tell you about the sorts of system level changes we are talking about here. We would not use an understanding of laminar flow in fluid dynamics to understand turbulent flow. So why is it we are using marginal economics, small incremental change economics, to understand system level changes?"

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Good News for a Change

Carbon sequestration looks better and better to me. It's been a long while since I could say anything like that on the global energy picture.

Will CO2 stay buried? My acquaintances closer to the field say yes. They point to the very long lifetimes of underground natural gas deposits, which are after all constited by an even smaller molecule. They insist there are places to put it, too.

Not only can it make coal a break-even proposition on the carbon front. (Economically of course it makes carbon fuels relatively more expensive, but that is by removing the hidden transfer of wealth from future generations, so it is a good thing for anyone other than a very shortsighted coal investor).

It's even more important than that! Sequestration is, so far, the only player that can remove net carbon from the system effectively and at low risk. Consider burning sawgrass and capturing the CO2 and burying it. If we mandate sequestration on biofuels, and we take care not to use crops from food-growing areas, we could actually not be talking about trouble vs crisis vs catastrophe vs armageddon. We could actually be talking about actual stabilization and even return to baseline.

In time to save the West Antarctic? Who knows...

If the cost of admission is playing ball with the coal companies, I say let's go for it. They do not deserve their good luck, but the rest of us do.

Update: Links here, (Susan Hovorka's name is misspelled in the article) here, here, and much more here.


EliRabett said...

Done right it can even push out additional natural gas and oil.

One thing I would point out, the CO2 does not have to stay buried forever, a few hundred years would be a great help.

Tony said...

Where's a good place to find out about C sequestration? Are there some papers that a layperson can read?

Michael Tobis said...

You ask, I Google...

(Susan Hovorka's name is misspelled in the article.)



and much more here