Look, no carbon

Let’s get right down to it-carbon sequestration is the process of extracting carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas (GHG) from the air or from the exhaust of an industrial process, and putting it in the ground where it can’t do any more damage.

There are lots of places in the ground to put it—the ground is, after all, much bigger on the inside than on the outside. You pressurize the CO2 to a liquid and pump it into an empty oil field or some other “container” in the Earth and – just like that! – no more global warming.

Note: James Lovelock has started to refer to global warming as “Global Heating” as he thinks the word “warming” is just too fucking cosy. And I agree—warming sounds like a nice night on the sofa with a wooly blanket and an Irish whiskey. So global heating it is!

So anyway…hurrah for carbon sequestration! We can all live as normal and keep on using up too much stuff and throwing the rest away and leaving our lights on and flying Ryanair and jacking up the air conditioning and all our sins will be tucked away underground.

But, seriously, carbon sequestration is not such a bad idea—the technology exists and many companies (and politicians) are already talking about it. For example, Vattenfall in Sweden has a pilot plant churing away in Germany.  And as a quick-fix to the immediate dangers from global heating, the technology is very promising and is always discussed as a “realistic” solution to this (possibly) dire problem.

However…the reason that you are hearing so much about carbon sequestration is because pumping pressurised gas into the ground is something that has been going on for ages. It is something that has been developed for completely different reasons. You see, when oil fields start to lose pressure, the oil does not some out any more. And then you have to push something in to force the rest of the oil out. Pressurised gas is ideal for this, and carbon dioxide is freqently used, in an effort to maximise output from the oil fields, and the oil company profits.

So let us summarise: we pay the oil companies to shove back in the ground the CO2 that they have made, and they use this to pump up more oil, which they sell to us, and when we turn that into yet more CO2 then we pay them to get rid of that also.

Looks like a win-win situation…except, wait a minue, what do we win? Oh yeah, the world remains habitable and all our animals and friends don’t die.

Well that’s a sort of a win, I suppose…

/ paddy

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