News that the world’s first commercial carbon capture and storage project in Saskatchewan is proving to be a failure is not very surprising. I’m certainly not the only person to have expressed scepticism about such carbon sequestration schemes, and this news may well prove to be the death knell for coal-fired electricity.
As everyone must surely know, the natural world is well-designed to cope with natural sources of carbon dioxide. In fact, carbon dioxide is essential to life. And if there was suddenly none of it in the atmosphere, all plant life on the planet would die and we humans would soon follow.
Unfortunately for carbon-rich fossil fuels, the natural world is not designed to cope well with the massive amounts of carbon dioxide we humans have been placing into the system as the industrial by-product of energy production.
Compared to simply shifting away from carbon intensive energy sources like coal, oil and natural gas to clean, renewable energy sources, carbon capture and storage schemes seem convoluted and elaborately complex. Moreover, pumping carbon dioxide underground is really not much different than pumping raw sewage into the ocean.
We either have to find a safe and easy way to cleanse and neutralize the carbon dioxide we generate, just as we do with raw sewage, or we have to stop generating it. And until someone finds that technological fix to sequester carbon we should be putting most of our efforts into developing clean energy sources rather than trying to figure out how we can keep on burning coal and other fossil fuels.
Yolanda Lora Vilchis