…. about a year ago I heard about this guy who built a machine that could literally suck CO2 right from the air. His name is Klaus Lackner, a physicist at Columbia University. I didn’t take Professor Lackner’s machine too seriously at the time because his prototype is really small – it only captures about ten pounds a day.

But last night I saw an article in the LA Times about Lackner’s little machine and they had some numbers: “sucking up the current stream of emissions would require about 67 million boxcar-sized filters at a cost of trillions of dollars a year.”

Now, if you are like me, you’re probably thinking, SIXTY SEVEN MILLION? Trillions of dollars a year? We’re all going to die.

But I had a different take yesterday. Why? Because I had coincidentally been reading about how many automobiles are manufactured every year worldwide. And guess what, it’s almost the same. In 2005, Earthlings manufactured 65,318,744 cars, trucks, and buses. If I believed in such things, I might think this coincidence was divinely provident.

We make every year about the same number of autos as we would have to make of Dr. Lackner’s machines once, over say, ten years. That’s actually doable. The other catch though is Dr. Lackner’s CO2 removers are quite a bit more expensive than a Toyota Corolla….

After watching yet another American election packed into banality by the corporate media, I am convinced more than ever that if we don’t retake the national conversation, through the democratic instruments of power, namely our government and the FCC, our nation and our world will see only darkness to come. We will never solve the problems we face. And we, or our children, may very well perish for it.

tocquedeville, Daily Kos


Code red

April 28, 2008

What risk is acceptable in establishing “safe” global warming goals, policies and actions? In the absence of a well-informed scientific consensus that harm would not ensue, the precautionary principle suggests that if an action (or inaction) might cause severe or irreversible harm to the public or the environment, the burden of proof falls on those advocating the action (or inaction). For nuclear power stations in the USA, the regulatory standard is that there should be no more that one-in-a- million risk of serious accident. In 2004, the chance of being killed in a commercial air crash was about one in four million. If instead the risk was one in a thousand — a 0.1% chance — we would not fly. Yet we seem to accept much higher risks as reasonable in setting global warming targets. The talk is about a 20–30% species loss for a rise of 2°C, very likely coral reef destruction, possible ice-sheet disintegration and the prospects of economic damage “on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century” (according to Nicholas Stern) as if it were a game of chance, a poker hand where with an ounce of luck the right cards will be dealt and the Earth will “get out of jail” free.
FOE Australia – Climate Code Red

Planetary hospice workers

April 25, 2008

The author Alastair McIntosh suggests that the right ethical response to climate change is to become “planetary hospice workers”. In the changed climate future, who will spend time with those most affected? Who, like those few wondrous people in the dark days of the plague will venture outside of their comfort and comfort those in need?

This is the great moral imperative of our times: will you sacrifice the possibility of a reasonably comfortable future and give yourself to those in need?

earth day?

April 25, 2008

What the day — indeed, the whole year — should be about is not creating misery upon misery for our children and their children and their children, and on and on for generations. Ultimately, stopping climate change is not about preserving the earth or creation but about preserving ourselves. Yes, we can’t preserve ourselves if we don’t preserve a livable climate, and we can’t preserve a livable climate if we don’t preserve the earth. But the focus needs to stay on the health and well-being of billions of humans because, ultimately, humans are the ones who will experience the most prolonged suffering. And if enough people come to see it that way, we have a chance of avoiding the worst.

We have fiddled like Nero for far too long to save the whole earth or all of its species. Now we need a World War II scale effort just to cut our losses and save what matters most. So let’s call it Triage Day. And if worst comes to worst, at least future generations won’t have to change the name again.

Joseph Romm

Pine beetles

April 25, 2008

It really bothers me that, in light of these recent studies showing how climate change and other anthropogenic forces can be so destructive to life, people, in general, can still be relatively unconcerned with or oblivious of losing an entire species.

I think that’s why events like Earth Hour and the other back-patting, bullshit green/light-environmentalism/consumerism-in-disguise events from that crowd piss me off. We still have a lot of work to do in educating the public before we start declaring any sort of victories. There’s a schism in this movement between those who want to throw money at the problem without changing their lifestyle and those who want to want to change how things are done without the resources to buy our way out of just plain mindfulness. A government that is actually willing to put pressure on industry to change their ways would be novel as well.  Jeremy Bruno, The Voltage Gate