Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

CleanTechnica

Climate Change

Gore Rejects Geoengineering As Climate Change Panacea

The $100-million German Schwarze Pumpe pilot power plant was developed by the Swedish firm Vattenfall. A demonstration-scale CCS project is expected by 2015.

This pilot German Schwarze Pumpe power plant was developed for $100 million by the Swedish firm Vattenfall. A demonstration-scale CCS project is expected by 2015
Image Credit: TreeHugger

Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore pulled no punches about geoengineering in a phone conference with reporters on Wednesday. He was apparently reacting to a suggestion in a leaked draft summary of the forthcoming climate solutions section of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change fifth climate assessment report.

The definitive study, to be released in Germany in April, suggests that before 2100, the world’s national governments may have to use massive geoengineering programs such as carbon capture and sequestration in order to check the forces of climate change. Gore finds the notion much less than appealing.

“The idea that we can put a different form of pollution into the atmosphere to cancel out the effects of global warming pollution is utterly insane.”

According to Guardian reporter Suzanne Goldenberg, Gore believes that large, untested measures carry enormous risks while doing nothing to address complications of climate change. These complications are known to include intensification of the phenomenon through ocean acidification, increased methane release, and other compounding factors.

Since climate change has been documented, some scientists and political leaders have grasped at the idea that radical, sweeping engineering interventions might hold back the forces loosed since the earth’s industrial revolution. These measures might include “easy fixes” like capture and deep burial of greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants, injecting the atmosphere with sulfur dioxide to reflect incoming sunlight, and seeding the ocean with algae to consume carbon dioxide. To Gore, the geoengineering ideas are as fanciful as alchemy, with results by tomorrow.

“The hubris involved in thinking we can come up with a second planet-wide experiment that would exactly counteract the first experiment [pollution-emitting industrialization] is delusional in the extreme,” the climate leader said. He feels that such proposals indicate how desperate some have become in the face of paralyzed global politics.

Among the reasons for doubting the usefulness of large-scale carbon capture and sequestration projects:

  • No CCS technology has yet been proven. Large installations to date are still in demonstration or on the drawing boards.
  • Commercialization of “zero-emissions coal-fired thermal power generation” is likely at least decades away–probably too late to mitigate negative climate change in the 21st century.
  • CCS carries with it a substantial energy penalty, estimated to be between 10-40% of the energy a power station produces, increasing the negative effects of mining and transportation as well as increasing consumption of fossil fuels by 25%.
  • Like nuclear power, geoengineering can produce dangerous wastes that must be disposed of safely or stored.
  • Investments in developing CCS would siphon away resources from proven longer-term antidotes to climate change, most notably renewable energy.

The former vice-president reportedly draws a line between large-scale geoengineering and small changes with impressive effects in the aggregate. And unlike climatologist James Hansen and colleagues, who recently advocated nuclear power development, Gore does not see nuclear power technology becoming safe and inexpensive enough in the coming 10-15 years to invest in it now.

 
Don't want to miss a cleantech story? Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!
 

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.
Advertisement
 
 

Written By

covers environmental, health, renewable and conventional energy, and climate change news. She's currently on the climate beat for Important Media, having attended last year's COP20 in Lima Peru. Sandy has also worked for groundbreaking environmental consultants and a Fortune 100 health care firm. She writes for several weblogs and attributes her modest success to an "indelible habit of poking around to satisfy my own curiosity."

Comments

You May Also Like

Cars

China spent $546 billion of 2022's $1.1 trillion USD global green investment, but China is getting about a trillion USD in value out of...

Climate Change

Evaluating Reef Persistence Under Climate Change And Ocean Acidification

Clean Power

What can be done to alleviate energy usage during fossil fuel instability and the transition to renewables? Motivating people helps. So does new legislation...

Biofuels

At the coal face of a conference that involved governmental figures, academics, logistics customers and OEMs, the detailed technical conversations are almost all about...

Copyright © 2023 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.