A few weeks ago, the green thinker Jim Bliss roughly calculated the environmental costs of this technique. He used as his case study the scheme BP proposed but abandoned last year for pumping CO2 into the Miller Field off the coast of Scotland. It would have buried 1.3m tonnes of CO2 and extracted 40m barrels of oil. Taking into account only the four major fuel products, Bliss worked out that the total carbon emissions would outweigh the savings by between seven and 15 times.
Now I\’ve something of a soft spot for Jim Bliss, he\’s certainly sound on the stupidity that is the criminalisation of cannabis. But I\’m really note sure that I would take his calculations upon matters economic very seriously. A couple of tasters:
We all know by now that late-capitalism has reduced us all, in theory, to mere consumers; units of potential economic exploitation.
Erm, how does one get exploited as a consumer? It\’s producers that capitalism and markets are so good at exploiting, surely?
I believed — as I still believe — that the human race has both the talent and the resources to ensure that millions of us don’t have to live in a condition of extreme poverty on the very edge of starvation. Yet we allow it to happen. More that that, we’ve built a global economic system that positively encourages it. Requires it, even.
Eh? The tired old trope that they\’re poor because we are rich?
Well, let\’s just say we\’ve got a very specific view of the world here, one that might not have all that much connection with it as it really is. As I say, I wouldn\’t rely upon economic calculations from this source.
But the really crucial part of Monbiot\’s assertions is this:
It will take many more years for the technology to be retro-fitted to existing power stations, by which time it\’s all over. On this schedule, carbon capture and storage, if it is deployed at all, will come too late to prevent runaway climate change.
This is the bit that is untrue: climate change is indeed a problem, but it\’s not an immediate one nor a catastrophic one. There is no need at all for a radical change in policies this year or next, nor within five or ten years. After all, we do indeed have the scientific consensus, represented by the IPCC, to inform us, and there is nothing in that compendium of work to suggest that we only have x years to save the planet. There\’s nothing like that at all.
Monbiot here is simply scaremongering. The non- and low- carbon technologies are indeed lumbering along in the background, we really are getting there to such things as low cost solar, low cost fuel cells, low cost local hydrogen generation and the rest. It\’s just that such technologies take years, decades even, to come to fruition and thus Monbiot\’s urgency. For he cannot wait for the technological solution to arrive, for that would obviate the need for the radical change in the structure of society that he so desires.
The urgency therefore is not that of runaway climate change: it\’s that technology will indeed save us, something which would never do. So better get the societal oppression in first, before the technology arrives.