Riffs on carbon capture

On Monday (December 10th) NPR published the story: How 1 Company Pulls Carbon From The Air, Aiming To Avert A Climate Catastrophe

Verse one: Math

Here’s how this carbon capture thing works–the company pulls CO2 from the air and converts it into little pellets of carbon which are then converted into liquid fuel. Like, for us to drink. Yeah, it’s like an energy drink! Jk it’s for cars. So the cars burn the carbon and it goes back into the air. 

Of course, these carbon capturing factories need energy to run. Carbon Engineering’s pilot plant in California runs on natural gas which expels carbon. (But they plan to run their second plant on renewable energy.)

Ok so, I only have a history degree from a liberal arts college but let’s see if I can do some math. Atmosphere – CO2 (from carbon capture) + CO2 (from carbon capture sold to gas companies) + CO2 (used to run carbon capture companies) = more CO2 in the atmosphere. 

Verse two: Money

Instead of making carbon fuel, the companies could take the little CO2 pellets and put them back in the ground. “But there’s no business model for that right now.” Right because, you know, the earth doesn’t have a job, but if it did maybe it would pay us to save it. Too bad.

Here’s the thing. You’ve got. to make. the money. These carbon capturing companies have billionaire investors. They have employees. They have a stake in money. And there are two ways for them to get it. First, by selling their carbon fuel product. Second, through carbon credit programs in which high emitters can pay the company to pull the offending carbon from the air.

Bottom line: these companies have a huge stake in carbon emissions continuing.

Verse three: Distraction

“We don’t have the option of simply avoiding climate emissions anymore,” one of the interviewees told NPR. Yes this may be true. Yes the situation is dire. But given what we know about math and money I’m starting to wonder if carbon capture is actually helpful or if it is just a distraction.

And so the humanoid bureaucratic flesh-eating monster grows bigger. That whole cycle where we buy things for our things. We make problems just to have jobs. Gotta get that cocktail gotta get that green juice. We can’t live without our oil. And soon we won’t be able to live without our magic carbon extractors. Nom nom.

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