Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Carbon storage and a watermelon litmus test

There's been very little media coverage about the International Panel on Climate Change's recent report, regarding the role of carbon dioxide capture and storage as a way to reduce climate change. The idea is to capture carbon dioxide as it's produced by power plants, and then store it someplace where most of it is unlikely to leak out for hundreds of years or longer. The "someplace" is either underground, which seems relatively safe, or in the deep ocean, which raises other concerns but is still less dangerous than spewing CO2 into the sky.

The lack of media is surprising because the IPCC says this method alone can account for 15-55% of all the needed mitigation to stabilize CO2 levels - at the high end, it can do more to stop global warming than all other methods combined. It appears to increase energy costs by 20 to 50 percent, not chicken feed but also not bankrupting us.

This brings up a litmus test. Conservative wingnuts refer to us enviro-whackos as "watermelons," because underneath the superficial green rind, what we supposedly really care about is our red socialist agenda. If that allegation is true, you should expect enviros to reject carbon storage without making any serious analysis, as it will do nothing to transform society or take down corporations.

The litmus test also applies to conservatives - with carbon storage, they don't have to abandon capitalism and live on communes, and the cost will be less than the cost of the recent runup in oil prices. They can take carbon storage seriously, or they can abandon remaining shreds of credibility.

So let's watch.

key: science, global warming

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