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StepItUp 2007, Noble Cause & Critique

Tom, Steve O and I attended a Global Warming & Politics Seminar at the YearlyKos. While, for the most part, the YearlyKos was a self-serving smug-fest, this presentation was well done. In the presentation the guys from StepItUp2007 have stated a goal of reducing CO2 emissions 80% from today’s levels. That’s pretty huge ladies and gentlemen but it is also attainable and can be achieved by using current technologies.

Where I think StepItUp went wrong was when they attempted to demonize fossil fuels and their use. The fact is that fossil fuels are readily available, an infrastructure already exists to mine them and to distribute them and lastly, the fossil fuel industry has more money than god (if he exists). There are technologies available that can offset the carbon emissions from the use of fossil fuels; one is carbon sequestering and the other more novel approach is to recycle the carbon.

Carbon sequestering is literally taking the CO2 out of the air and storing it long-term. Some techniques involve pumping CO2 into geologic repositories, injecting CO2 deep into the ocean where it will exist as a liquid or solid and enhancing biological cycles to put more CO2 into bio-mass. This technology alone would make use of fossil fuels far more environmentally friendly, although getting the fossil fuel companies to pony up the cash is an entirely different story.

The most innovative idea that should be use in conjunction with sequestering is CO2 recycling. MIT has a small pilot plant that takes the emissions from a fossil fuel power plant and uses the CO2 and other components to grow algae. This algae is then taken and burned as is or turned into Bio-diesel through another process. Theoretically that gives twice as much energy per unit of carbon, although in reality the process can’t be 100% efficient.

While I think renewable, clean energy should be the ultimate goal, the guys at StepItUp must realize that fossil fuels will be around for a long-time and their use will continue until such a time that the market (and of course Government subsidies subside) drives the cost well above current levels making alternate, renewable energy sources cost effective. The answer to our energy needs do not lie in one area (renewable), but will be a myriad of renewable sources & fossil sources with the technologies that allow the fossil fuels to become environmentally friendly. Let’s not take on Big Oil and Coal head to head, because we will lose, let’s work with them to provide our needs and to keep the planet habitable.


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10 Responses to “StepItUp 2007, Noble Cause & Critique”

  1. Nice writeup! I think when we get a President that isn’t beholden to Big Oil we can then bring renewable energy to the table and kill off the fossil fuel cartel.

    But MIT’s plant idea sounds good too.

  2. beware of the technological quick fix.

  3. I hear ya Rube! But the sad fact is that fossil fuels will likely be with us for awhile just because they are so easy to use…

    Dusty,
    I don’t think we will ever have a President who isn’t somehow held hostage by Big Oil and Coal. At least as long as there is oil and coal cheaply available.

  4. You calll the price of gas and heating oil cheap???

    Damn..I don’t and not with the profit margin those guys have…

  5. Cheaper at least than many currently available alternate fuel sources…

    But….if we offer tax incentives for alternate fuels, the price gap would close considerably.

  6. Well sure, but if the technologies become the standard the prices should come down..right?

    Or am I dreaming with regard to that :)

  7. I wish I knew Dusty… Yeah it would make sense that if demand for fossil fuels went way down, then a price drop would occur, but that’s only in a completely free-market which, as we all suspect, is not the case with energy.

  8. If we had an Executive Branch and legislative branch that worked for, we, the people instead of corporations and the top 1% we might find out.

  9. show me your data. free markets is or will solve the problem? technology is or will solve the problem? the executive and legislative or our system of governance is the problem? we my friends are using the last half of stored ancient sunlight and the first half was much easier to get than the last half will be. infact, most of the last half will never be recovered. the house energy bill that passed in the house last week included incentives for renewables, but it will not get through the senate and even if it does the president will veto it. we should have begun our transition off fossil fuels back at the time Carter made his malaise speech in the late 1970’s. the same policies in the current bill were in his recommended energy program. what a ride. reminds me of an arab saying. “My father rode a camel. I drive a SUV. My son flys an airplane. my grandson will ride a camel.”

  10. Agreed Rube! There is only a finite amount of fossil fuel.
    I am saying that the answer to the energy/GW issue is a myriad of different energy sources and technologies. There are huge amounts of oil in the North American Oil Sands that we have not even begun to extract, there are huge renewable opportunities in Solar, Wind and Hydro. There is a process being developed that can turn any, ANY, organic matter into #2 Fuel Oil.

    Yes our government has failed us and continues to do so…

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