Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Climate change: Good news and frustration

Some good news on the climate change front: scientists have found a cheap and easy way of filtering CO2 from smokestacks, or even just from the atmosphere:

Their tests showed that these inexpensive materials achieved some of the highest carbon dioxide removal rates ever reported for humid air, under conditions that stymie other related materials. After capturing carbon dioxide, the materials give it up easily so that the CO2 can be used in making other substances, or permanently isolated from the environment. The capture material then can be recycled and reused many times over without losing efficiency. The researchers suggest the materials may be useful on submarines, in smokestacks or out in the open atmosphere, where they could clean up carbon dioxide pollution that comes from small point sources like cars or home heaters, representing about half of the total CO2 emissions related to human activity.
Of course, we still need somewhere safe to store it - but that's half the problem solved.

At the same time, it also highlights the frustration of climate change policy: we have the technology, we can beat this problem, decarbonise the economy, and live sustainably as a technological society - but our politicians (old, rich, and invested in the destructive status quo) are not making the policy changes necessary to push us down that path, and instead seem set to do nothing and just let it happen. And so we're on track for a disaster, one which will ruin my future, your future, and the future of your children and grandchildren and generations to come - and that disaster is completely avoidable.