Two Solutions That Cut Down on Fossil Fuels

The headline in the New York Times reads “Lebanon’s Garbage Crisis Underscores Government’s Disarray.” It seems that the Lebanese government is unable to collect and dispose of the garbage in Beirut and the waste is piling up across the city.

Garbage smells bad, and in the heat of summer, with wafts of rotting meat and vegetables blowing across the city, it is hardly surprising that the citizens of Beirut are getting very frustrated at the lack of leadership.

The government of Lebanon is dysfunctional but the resulting and increasingly strident “You Stink” protests have, thus far, had little effect. Obviously this can’t continue for much longer before a serious health problem emerges and compounds the pain.

To me, the situation in Lebanon is analogous to the global political dysfunction that prevents serious solutions to climate change. Some time in the not too distant future, the NYT will plausibly carry a headline to the effect, “Global Greenhouse Gas Crisis Underscores Governments’ Disarray” (only, I hope it will be pithier).

In preparing a short “TED talk” type lecture for the upcoming Positive Economy conference in France, I gathered some slides from the recent National Academy of Science report on geoengineering climate. I sat on the panel that issued the two reports. There were two because there are two “solutions” for continued, unabated burning of fossil fuels. And if you really need to know — we aren’t running out of fossil fuels anytime soon — at least not for a century.

The first solution is to take the carbon dioxide out of the stack gases of (mostly) coal-fired power plants, or if not there, then directly from the air. Both solutions are expensive and would add a cost to the price —> Read More