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07/12/2013

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James

That’s like a human metastatic cancer trying to support the homeostasis of a body that it is in the process of killing. Eventually the negative externalities cause a paraneoplastic syndrome that cannot be reversed. That is, any effort to reverse the failing homeostasis of the body (ecosystem) by neoplastic metabolic activity only results in an accelerated deterioration and death. The cancer is widely disseminated, stage IV and apparently unstoppable as most every human on the planet strives to convert the natural world into a fixed stock of wealth and/or ephemeral experience of pleasure. Any ecosystem radiation or chemotherapy would likely be ineffective at this point as each cell (business) competes for maximal growth and has metastasized into all tissues of the ecosystem.

Oliver

And on and on it goes - the same money-driven "solutions" proposed to ameliorate the fucking mess we've made of the biosphere, by the same money-fixated humans responsible for fucking everything up.

I read another BBC piece about ocean devastation today that's ripe for your incisive deconstruction:

Greece jellyfish warning for UK tourists
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23243759

The last line says it all. "Therefore the creatures should be viewed as a resource rather than a pest."

The very crazy mantra is, if it doesn't kill us first, let's make a buck off it.

The End of Days approacheth, but may your weekend be full of [ insert as appropriate ].

Frosty

Sadly we humans are ok at making small changes IF we can be made to believe that our lives depend on it AND the activity either becomes socially unacceptable -- smoking for example -- or we see that "everyone is doing it" -- like using sunscreen. The change has to be in our personal, immediate best interest, as well as easy to understand. That is why we are fucked when it comes to stopping large scale disaster. Most of us cannot connect with the reality of the situation.

I've learned so much here. I wish you were in a position to hire a publicist to position your blog effectively, get those quotes and links "out there", buy twitter followers, etc.

Jim

This is a long comment - sorry - and its conclusion is the same as yours, ha ha.

I took some time to study this. The first thing I wanted to find out was what sort of tech Eisenberger's company uses. It's an amine-based solution, most likely monoethanolamine (MEA), created by BASF:
http://www.greenpeace.org/eastasia/news/stories/toxics/2009/BASF-factory-China/

Also (Zero CO2's website sponsored by Statoil):
http://www.zeroco2.no/capture/capture-technology/post-combustion/removing-co2-using-amines

MEA itself is toxic in larges doses, but it's relatively non-toxic when compared to a lot of the other stuff that is out there.

Panels are coated in MEA, which absorb CO2. That CO2 is released from the amines using steam (another water consumer to add to the ever-growing list) and power. Eisenberger's company plans to use mostly 'waste heat' for power - extra unused energy that already exists at power plants.

This is a for-profit venture, so the next big question is where are they going to use this extracted CO2? Sequestration is pretty much out - there's no money in that.

The greatest potential is in enhanced oil recovery (EOR). CO2 gets pumped into existing wells to bring a bit more oil to the surface. Most of the CO2 stays underground, but of course the extra oil recovered just creates more CO2 in the atmosphere.

One of Eisenberger's company's (Global Thermostat) press releases mentions that execs of the tar sands are looking into the tech to increase their recovery. And eventually the plan is to tie the tech in with cap-and-trade systems - companies can continue emitting as long as they 'remove' those emissions.

Other sources would be algae production for fuel (again, the CO2 just gets released at a later point), plastics, and cement (another huge greenhouse gas producer). They also hope to make methanol and high-octane gasoline from it (again - you get the drill).

All of this information was found on Global Thermostat's website under 'About GT'.

In short, this tech is just sleight of hand. It looks 'green', it looks 'clean', but its end result is just to add an extra processing step into CO2 release. It'll also provide a bit of greenwashing to the tar sands and the oil industry.

This is all being pitched to maintain economic growth, and its main architect is an economist (Chichilnisky). These folks actually think they're providing a solution, when it's just a coat of paint:
http://www.animated-gifs.eu/time-cuckoo-clocks/0004.gif

John D

Come on, Dave. This article about a monolith sucking up carbon- it's an Onion spoof, right?

Alexander Ač

Great article as always, Dave!!

People are so bat-shit crazy that they can not possibly see it. Never ever. Seem that Doug Tompkins is your good friend!

It has become something of a mantra within the sustainability movement that innovations in technology can save the world. But rather than liberating us, Doug Tompkins, the cofounder of retail brands The North Face and Esprit, believes technology has enslaved us and is destroying the very health of the planet on which all species depend.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/technology-stopped-evolution-destroying-world

Even if he is wealthy... well well.

Alex

JS

In other words, humans want to continue to consume beyond their means and hope that a magical sky vacuum will clean up after them. Business as usual I see....

Clyde

So, are we now living in the time of peak knowledge, too?
Perhaps!

As for those 'monoliths', it reminds me of this video of a girl expounding her idea of having huge air-conditioning units along all the roads to cool the Earth -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwSoYz7UN9s


Oliver

@Clyde - She's as smart as a merchant banker ;-)

I think there's a follow-up video somewhere. When asked about all the waste heat generated by the huge ACUs, she says this can be kept in giant plastic bags until the wintertime.

NonLinear

American Physical Society assessment of the technology:
June 1st, 2011

"Executive Summary
This report explores direct air capture (DAC) of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere with chemicals. DAC involves a system in which ambient air flows over a chemical sorbent that selectively removes the CO2. The CO2 is then released as a concentrated stream for disposal or reuse, while the sorbent is regenerated and the CO2-depleted air is returned to the atmosphere.

To guide the reader to an understanding of the factors affecting costs, a benchmark system is introduced that could be built today. With optimistic assumptions about some important technical parameters, the cost of this system is estimated to be of the order of $600 or more per metric ton of CO2. Significant uncertainties in the process parameters result in a wide, asymmetric range associated with this estimate, with higher values being more likely than lower ones. Thus, DAC is not currently an economically viable approach to mitigating climate change. Any commercially interesting DAC system would require significantly lower avoided CO2 costs, and thus would likely have a design very different from the benchmark system investigated in this report. This report identifies some of the key issues that need to be addressed in alternative designs.

The physical scale of the air contactor in any DAC system is a formidable challenge. A typical contactor will capture about 20 tons of CO2 per year for each square meter of area through which the air flows. Since a 1000-megawatt coal power plant emits about six million metric tons of CO2 per year, a DAC system consisting of structures 10-meters high that removes CO2 from the atmosphere as fast as this coal plant emits CO2 would require structures whose total length would be about 30 kilometers. Large quantities of construction materials and chemicals would be required. It is likely that the full cost of the benchmark DAC system scaled to capture six million metric tons of CO2 per year would be much higher than alternative strategies providing equivalent decarbonized electricity. As a result, even if costs fall significantly, coherent CO2 mitigation would result in the deployment of DAC only after nearly all significant point sources of fossil CO2 emissions are eliminated, either by substitution of non-fossil alternatives or by capture of nearly all of their CO2 emissions."


http://www.npr.org/2013/06/27/189522647/this-climate-fix-might-be-decades-ahead-of-its-time

"Researchers currently working on carbon dioxide capture technologies say the American Physical Society critique has made it much harder for them to raise money. Klaus Lackner at Columbia University says he was turned down for a government grant. David Keith at Harvard and the University of Calgary says he struggled to get funding for his small company."
Harden the fuck up boys.

Clyde

Oliver, I didn't realise that she'd actually thought it through so much. She just might be onto something, if she could only get some funding?

I do wonder, if this is to be the pinnacle of our species collective intelligence, what our greatest achievement will turn out to have been?

Jim

@Clyde: I would say germ theory, but that reminded me of a silly but intriguing doc I watched:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdwYjFnFoJU

Oliver's very funny joke about Guinness on Thursday's post also has shades of it. There is the possibility that civilization started due to the discovery of beer. There is evidence the beer predates bread, and by millennia:
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/The-Beer-Archaeologist.html

The theory goes that civilization started as a means of growing and producing the grains necessary for the mass production of beer. Later, written languages formed a means of recording inventories:
http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/me/t/tablet,_allocation_of_beer.aspx

Germ theory owes its beginnings to Louis Pasteur trying to discover why beer goes bad over time:
http://biotech.law.lsu.edu/cphl/history/articles/pasteur.htm

And sitting in a bar late at night with a cold glass of beer - really, few things are as pleasant. So, ironically, our best invention may be our very first, and that first invention has led to everything else.

Clyde

I'll drink to that Jim.

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