Artificial Trees pft! – More profit for fat cats.
This week there has been much talk suggesting that British scientists support the use of artificial trees to address climate change. The trees would work by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere which would then be liquefied and stored underground using technology which is becoming known as carbon sequestration.
Carbon sequestration trials are currently underway to remove CO2 from the emissions from coal power stations, liquefy the CO2 and then pump it into exhausted oil wells. Many industry professionals are bullish about carbon sequestration – They would be, there are huge potential for profits to be made.
Even if carbon sequestration worked it would be a cop out because it would be passing the buck to the next generation and storing up trouble for the future. Before we consider storing vast amounts of CO2 underground we should recall that the British government still have no plans for the long term storage of nuclear waste!
We should also ask: Who would pay for the machines? Who will operate them? Who will be responsible for leaks from old buried CO2? What incentive will countries who do not operate CO2 sequestration system have to limit CO2 production? How much CO2 will be emitted to develop, build, operate and decommission the equipment? And lastly why spend millions recapturing CO2 rather than stopping emitting it in the first place?
The answer to CO2 build up is not bigger and stupider ideas it is to break the current economic model of over consumption conjoined with the acceptance that the world is humanities dustbin.
If we allocate the problem of over emission of CO2 to businessmen they will produce a profit driven solution. If we allocate the problem to engineers then they will provide engineering solutions such as artificial trees. If we allocate the problem to politicians then they will take an interim decision that gets them past the next election. The last time I heard a British government minister discussing nuclear waste he claimed that the New Labour government did have a policy for the long term storage of waste; the policy was to use short term storage until a policy for long term storage had been devised. – Yes, he actually said that! The arrogance and cynicism which leads a government minister to trot out such bollocks is staggering. Sadly I can’t recall who it was that said it.
Rather than relying on “professionals” to sort out climate change we could always do something ourselves.
We British complain that the Brazilians are cutting down huge amounts of forest every day but we don’t mention that England used to be covered in forest. Why not replant that forest? Sadly the space is now taken up with farm land, housing, shopping malls and Heathrow Airport but we could still plant trees on all the free land? The grass verges in the cities, the wasteland, everywhere, even parts of Heathrow Airport.
The professional statisticians will tell us that this will only absorb a small percentage of the CO2 required but this is a poor argument which we hear every time anyone makes any suggestion about ways to reduce or absorb CO2. It is not enough – of course it is not be enough – There is no one silver bullet.
I was talking to a friend last week and he asked me what I am doing to reduce my CO2 consumption. I lamely mentioned an insulated loft and recycling and he suggested I do more. I dismissed the additional measures as making too small a contribution but he made the point that if we all do everything we can then we will all become far more aware and this awareness will have knock on effects. It will motivate us to take the bigger decisions that are necessary.
When I was at school there was a campaign to save trees: “Plant a Tree in 73” followed by “Plant one more in 74”. A tree absorbs CO2 naturally and turns it into wood. Useful stuff wood, you can make chairs, tables and cricket bats from wood.
Maybe it is worth doing things individually. We may act one at a time but this can have an effect just as the trees in the English forests were cut down one at a time.
………..where’s my spade?