Geophysicist Dr Mark
If Carl Sparre has read up so much on geosequestration, perhaps he can explain why the same strata that
self-evidently have stored oil and gas for millions of years are incapable of
holding carbon dioxide for any more than centuries.
While Lovelock has
gone way beyond the upper bound of mainstream scientific climate forecasts, he
has contributed greatly towards making that rarest of species, the thinking
Green, realise that we need to apply all the tools at our disposal to
avoid disaster. (That’s “disaster,” note, not “apocalypse;” see below). This
is not a matter of either/or, or picking winners. Nor do we have the luxury of
accommodating agendas against Big/Bad Industry and Technology.
We need the lot: Efficiency. Gas substitution for oil. Coal
gasification. Carbon dioxide storage (sequestration). Nuclear fission.
Geothermal. Photovoltaics. Wind. Thermal gradient. Tidal.
Biodiesel. Electric vehicles. All these energy generation and waste
disposal options are needed to avert the sort of climate change – or
energy shortage – that will result in deaths in the millions and
economic losses in the trillions.
Having said that, anyone lying awake at
night at the thought of Lovelock’s apocalypse may sleep better in the knowledge
that all the coal and oil we can burn represent only fractions of a per cent of
the total carbon in and on Earth’s crust. In all Earth history, it has taken
the release of vastly greater quantities, in the form of massive volcanic
eruptions and widespread chemical dissolution of carbonates, to cause the sort
of mass extinction event Lovelock is talking about.
Anyone who wants to
see what people at the coalface (sorry) of climate change, science and policy are
saying, from an Australian perspective, could do a lot worse than to peruse the
proceedings of the recent Greenhouse 2005 conference, available here.
Disclaimer: The author owns shares in biodiesel companies.