…. 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


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