Can Carbon Dioxide Emissions Be Buried?

Hmmm, I’m not sure I like the idea of this… In a Chicago Tribune news article, it discusses the possibility of storing carbon dioxide emissions in the earth below us instead of them being emitted into our atmosphere.  Reducing the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into our skies does provide some solution to global warming, but what are the risks and is it a long term and responsible solution?

Australia is rich in brown coal and can provide vast amounts of energy well into the future.  The problem being that the burning of brown coal produces very high volumes of carbon dioxide.  So what can a country do when the world is riding the “stop global warming” train?  The solution Australia is keen to explore is Carbon sequestration.

My issue with this is that it seems more of a “let’s do what we want, when we want and deal with the consequences later” type approach.  True, I’m no geologist or anything, and there could very well be a legitimate and scientific response that will crumble my objections to nothing.  But what happens if there is a leak, or an earthquake?  How much will the possibility of human error be factored into the risk calculation?  What if Mother Nature wants to boast her wrath in ways and times not predictable?  How long will it remain stable?  Once you’ve stored the carbon dioxide in the earth, how do we go about cleaning it up if we need – remove the plug and run?  Of course more serious than this is the storage of nuclear waste – hazardous and toxic waste that remains deadly for thousands and thousands of years?  And maybe carbon dioxide is not as extreme as nuclear waste, but it employs the same approach.  We’ve pumped the atmosphere with greenhouse gases and it’s bitten us back.  Will the same thing happen when we pump merrily away in the opposite direction?

Isn’t the best approach to look after what we’ve got and to look for new ways to improve our technology and lifestyles, which won’t leave environmental scars.  Most people are conscious of the impact our past has had on the environment and hopefully most of those people are doing something about it – even if it’s only a little bit.  I just think there is a more positive answer… we put a man on the moon… that’s the kind of vision we need.

about the author

Sofia Lockhart

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