Scenarios for “nascent” carbon capture technologies

NASCENT: just coming into existence and beginning to display signs of future potential

It was a foregone conclusion that the fossil fuel industry would find a new way to generate profits as fossil fuels are becoming more difficult to extract, and resistance to fossil fuel infrastructure, i.e. pipelines, continues to rise.

[capitalism] is causing five massive problems, problems so grave they were genuine existential threats to this thing this species called a “world”: climate change, mass extinction, economic stagnation, social inequality, and political extremism. 

The Beginning of the End of the World. Why We Have to Take the Idea of Civilizational Collapse Seriously, and What it Really Looks Like by umair haque, Eudaimonia and Co, Dec 15, 2022

Most unconventional energy sources have much lower efficiencies than conventional gas and oil, which operate at a combined energy-returned-on-investment ratio of about 18:1. Shale gas, for example, performs at about 6.5:1 to 7.6:1—a bit better than the 2.9:1 to 5.1 for tar sands oil. Corn ethanol, with an EROI of about 1.3:1, sits at the bottom of the barrel for investment pay off.

Oil Sands Mining Uses Up Almost as Much Energy as It Produces by Rachel Nuwer, Inside Climate News,
February 19, 2013

“Nascent” isn’t the correct term for carbon capture technologies. Although these technologies are just coming into existence, they only have the potential to remove insignificant amounts of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. And there is no evidence at all that the extracted carbon will remain where it is proposed to be buried for any length of time.

And what proponents don’t want known is much of this recovered carbon dioxide will be used to push more oil out of shale rock.

Yet as the general public is seeing increasing environmental devastation, and finally realizing the causes, they are demanding immediate solutions that preferably don’t require changes to their lifestyles. So, they gladly support the false claims of carbon capture.

The general public is also unaware that the carbon dioxide transported by pipelines from the sites of carbon capture is a hazardous material. When pipelines rupture, they replace the oxygen, causing confusion, brain injury or death. The lack of oxygen means internal combustion engines, like those in emergency response vehicles, can no longer work.

I’m glad to be working with the many people and organizations that have formed the Buffalo Rebellion that is fighting against these technologies. (See: https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/buffalo-rebellion/) I took the photos below during a Buffalo Rebellion rally in November, when there was a national meeting of supporters of carbon capture in Des Moines.

THERE ARE TWO DIFFERENT KINDS OF SCENARIOS that leave the planet, in the year 2100, below 1.5C of warming. One involves a “high overshoot,” but spending decades above 1.5C in such a world is an unsettling prospect. It raises the possibility, for instance, of the world experiencing dangerous tipping points and even calamities such as the irreversible loss of the West Antarctic ice sheet.

So it is worth focusing on those 26 scenarios that allow for only a “low” overshoot (or none at all).Many of these scenarios require the world, by mid-century, to go well beyond the popular“net zero” goal for fossil fuel emissions. Rather, the world will have to be removing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it is putting in — “net negative.” And that will require the wide-scale deployment of nascent “carbon capture” technologies to remove what is already present, storing it underground, and likely also massive reforestation or other efforts to store carbon in the land itself.

We looked at 1,200 possibilities for the planet’s future. These are our best hope by Chris Mooney, Naema Ahmed and John Muyskens, The Washington Post, Dec 1, 2022


Reasonable, challenging or speculative?

Potsdam Institute researchers rated 1.5°C scenarios as speculative, challenging, or reasonable on these five dimensions, based on progress by 2050

  • 1. Carbon dioxide removal and storage underground
    • The amount of CO₂ pulled from the air by carbon capture technology and stored in large underground repositories, or through chemical interactions with rock. Challenging = over 3 billion tons annually; Speculative = over 7 billion tons.
  • 2. Carbon dioxide removal using land
    • How much CO₂ is absorbed by trees and land, including through agriculture. Challenging = over 2.5 billion tons per year; Speculative = over 8.6 billion tons.
  • 3. Carbon intensity reductions
    • The reduction in carbon emissions from energy production due to renewables, electrification and electric vehicles, among other things. Challenging = above a 75 percent reduction; Speculative = above 93 percent reduction.
  • 4. Changing energy demand
    • The change in the world’s total need for energy in 2050. Challenging = any decrease in energy demand; Speculative = a decrease of 40 percent or more.
  • 5. Fewer methane emissions
    • The reduction in emissions of methane, the second most important greenhouse gas. Challenging = reductions above 54 percent; Speculative = reductions above 67 percent.

We looked at 1,200 possibilities for the planet’s future. These are our best hope by Chris Mooney, Naema Ahmed and John Muyskens, The Washington Post, Dec 1, 2022


The best overview about carbon capture I’ve found is the following webinar hosted by my friends Mahmud Fitil and Sikowis Nobiss.

Check out the first webisode of Prairie Not Pipelines, an Indigenous web series focused on climate, water and resource extraction on the plains.

Hosted by Mahmud Fitil and Sikowis Nobiss. Folks from across the Great Plains in ND, SD, NE and Iowa will be discussing the recent push for CO2 pipelines across the region.

Currently, the majority of the media and public pushback is coming from white landowners. However, these pipelines are being proposed to be forced through stolen land and treaty territories where Indigenous voices need to be heard. This forum will discuss the legal, environmental and tribal perspectives of Carbon Capture and Storage. These projects are being touted as environmentally sound when in fact they are huge greenwashed projects which extends a lifeline to the fossil fuel industry which is responsible for our current climate emergency in the first place. These investors and corporations are merely looking to profit from government programs and subsidies rather than address our climate woes in any meaningful way. The people, land and water in the way of their profiteering ambitions are of little concern.



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