The false reality of carbon sequestration
By Robert T. Smith
Huge amounts of money and effort are being spent to develop an approach to address man-caused global warming. One of the many approaches to address the alleged impending doom is the cutting-edge technology of carbon sequestration.
As a requirement of CO2 sequestration, the U.S. EPA has developed regulations to address potential issues associated with CO2 sequestration. As a part of these regulations, a Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) Plan is required. This MRV Plan includes many components intended to address the man-made issues that the un-sequestering of CO2 may cause.
The MRV Plan requires a delineation of the maximum active monitoring area to detect the release of CO2 from the subsurface; active monitoring in the maximum area that could be affected by the sequestration; identification of potential CO2 surface leakage pathways, including the likelihood, magnitude, and timing of CO2 leakage; a strategy for monitoring CO2 leakage; consideration of the Safe Drinking Water Act, etc. What could possibly go wrong?
Clearly, projecting the behavior of a gas within complex subsurface geology is not possible in real time — or, more troubling, in the short and long term when even more changes to the already unknown subsurface can occur. Geologically, we may explore surfaces by representative visualizations of small portions of the subsurface. We can traverse the surface and remotely sense with the best technologies, drill into the earth and retrieve cores for direct observation, and still only have a partial understanding of the entire unseen subsurface. The nuances of faults, fractures, lineaments, fissures, and differing rock structures' physical and chemical compositions will remain not perfectly understood.
Carbon sequestration technology is already quite well established. This technology is the ongoing sequestration of carbon by plants, living then dying. As one of many examples, here in Pennsylvania, we call that spring and fall. Capturing CO2 emissions and pumping them into the ground is gaining in popularity on the established plant technology as a mitigation measure. Consistent with the illogical, feel-good approach of the purveyors of man-caused global warming, the quiet secret is that the primary use of CO2 injection currently is to help mobilize oil and gas in underground hydrocarbon reservoirs to increase production.
We are unmoored from the logic of nature's systems and have dismissed our scientific humility to understand the entirety of the unknown of the Earth's systems — and, in the case of CO2 sequestration, the Earth's subsurface. We play loosely with the quaint notion that CO2 also kills. An African lake killed 1,800 people in the 1980s by releasing deadly amounts of CO2 that had accumulated there in the lake waters. The CO2 had migrated to the lake waters from adjacent volcanic-influenced geologic structures. To those involved, the unplanned, sudden un-sequestering of CO2 was a significant event.
Carbon is the building block of life for plants and animals. When the advocates of carbon "pollution" throw about large carbon dioxide emission numbers, just remember each of us humans exhale approximately 0.3 to 0.5 tons of carbon dioxide each year, not to mention other similarly-respiring critters. Our exhaled carbon dioxide is used by plants for growth and in return these plants provide us a source of oxygen to breathe and food to eat, or feed for tasty animals first before we consume them. What mortal could conceive of developing such an ingenious, natural process.
While much of the world struggles with even the basics for life — sufficient food, shelter, clean water, and basic disease prevention — only our portion of the "developed" world tilts at the windmill of controlling the Earth's climate by injecting a gas into the subsurface. Geologic sequestration of CO2 is a testimony to our lack of reality, humanistic vanity, and proportionality addressing the pressing problems facing our world today.
Robert T. Smith is an environmental scientist who spends his days enjoying life and the pursuit of happiness with his family. He confesses to cling to his liberty, guns and religion, with antipathy toward the arrogant ruling elites throughout the country.