A Fox in Sheep’s Clothing

That’s the best way I can describe some of the apparent pitfalls that this year’s conference in Poznan must avoid.  Let me clarify.  There is a proposal to make ‘Carbon Capture and Sequestration’ or CCS, that is, the long term storage of CO2 underground, approved as a means of ‘selling’ carbon credits.  That is, it would allow those employing the technology to receive an alottment of carbon credits which might then be sold to carbon polluters.  Seems like a good idea, no?

No! While there may be some valid technology somewhere, someday, to pull CO2 out of the air and stabilize it for storage underground ‘safely’ (kind of reminds you of proposals for ‘safe storage’ of spent nuclear fuel, eh?)… what it actually is, is another subsidy for the oil industry.  That is, they already want to pump stuff into wells that are running dry, or where the oil is too viscous for ordinary pumping methods, in order to pressurize the wells and force more oil out.  Then they propose to simply ‘cap’ the well and keep all this pressurized CO2 in the ground… forever.  Right!  They attest to the geological stability of these areas, where there have been no major earthquakes for hundreds of thousands, or perhaps millions of years.

Issues of stability of the formations and the pressurized CO2 by the millions of tons aside… it is just another way for the oil industry to increase their revenues, through the sale of these carbon credits, and thus to make marginal oil reserves more economic, and even squeeze more profit out of their reserves in general.

This proposal must be defeated.


5 Responses to A Fox in Sheep’s Clothing

  1. linnea says:

    If pumping CO2 into the ground is a bad idea, then it’s a bad idea. But it shouldn’t be ruled out just because the suggestion comes from the oil industry.

  2. boris says:

    I agree with linnea. Is this a technological limitation or is there a fundamental reason not to do carbon sequestration?

    In a certain sense coal is a giant carbon sequestration system. Much of this carbon used to be in the air (when dino’s roamed the earth) and there’s no reason (that i can see) finding a way to put it back in the earth is a bad idea.

    It occurs to me while writing this that global warming is a disaster for human society but from the point of view of “Gaia” maybe not so bad. Carbon is in the ground that was once in the air and is now being put back in the air. so what.

    • stuartgaia says:


      Putting carbon back into the ground in a solid, stable, non-toxic form is a great idea! You are right, that is what nature did and we are quickly undoing. The problem with the plan I am opposed to is that they are pumping it into the ground (in order to extract more of the stable stuff that is already there and burn it) as a gas, which is NOT stable, and is under pressure… and they want to be PAID to do it (carbon credits!). This is the height of travesty! They will do it anyhow to extract the oil (bad idea). I don’t think we need to subsidize them.

      They claim that the pressurize gas will be ‘stable’ since there is not indication of earthquakes in the chosen areas for hundreds of thousands of years. Past is no proof of future. And as we shift the tectonic pressures on the crust of the earth by melting the Greenland ice pack and redistributing that water around the world in the ocean, it is possible tha formerly geologically-stable areas will not continue to be earthquake free.

      And you are right perhaps too, that the disaster for humanity is not necessarily a disaster for nature. But in this case they are predicting a loss of 20-30% of the biodiversity of the planet IN THIS CENTURY do to our folly. THAT is a tragedy for Gaia.


  3. Sebastian says:

    I don’t think that Stuart’s argument was about rejecting the proposal because of who was proposing it. The information that the proposer is the oil industry, I think, is vital for understanding the background of the proposal: subsidising a process of oil extraction that is going on anyway, modified in a minimal way so that it would seemingly qualify as a climate protection measure. So it is to be rejected not because it would benefit the same industry whose greedy, world domination seeking, stuck in the past leaders have recently manipulated US politics into staging a disastrous invasion in the Middle East. Tempting as that might be for a reason. 🙂 It is to be rejected because the proposers have a interest in the proposal that is different to the stated purpose of climate protection, and therefore the proposal can be suspected – and, indeed, be shown as Stuart does – to be untrustworthy in its content.

    • stuartgaia says:

      Again, you have hit the nail right on the head, Sebastian. I will repeat, as I titled my initial post on this blog, that while the problems are complex, the solutions are often simple, at least conceptually. Convincing the powers that be that they are also required if we are to survive is at present the difficulty.

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