Letters, June 21, 2008 Issue

Readers share their thoughts on “Down with carbon” (SN: 5/10/08, p. 18), which describes carbon dioxide sequestration:

Complex schemes
The article repeatedly mentions liquid CO2, which has to be under high pressure to become a liquid. Has the CO2 released from burning fuel to run the necessary compressors and pumps been considered, or would those be powered with wind or solar energy? If so, why not just use those sources directly to replace fossil fuels and make less CO2 to begin with? Why keep devising complex technological schemes to fix problems rather than simply avoiding the technologies that cause the problems?

Stop burning carbon
It is less economical to patch a broken system with an after-damage repair than to eliminate the problem in the first place—in this case, the use of combustion to generate power. For a smaller investment, and in less time, we can ramp up energy production using proven, non-combustive technologies for stationary power generation from wind, tides, nuclear fission and direct capture of solar energy. These technologies exist and are relatively uneconomical in the United States now merely due to scale, limited engineering commitment and lack of public support. Let’s get real. The sooner we stop burning carbon to make electricity, the better. We can make a big dent with alternative power before we even invent carbon capture from smokestacks.

Underwater logging
Thank you for a thorough article. The idea of digging trenches to bury trees seems extremely work-intensive and destructive. Wood waste could be buried under the overburden in strip mining operations, or sunk to anaerobic depths in deep lakes or off the continental shelf. There are numerous logs being recovered from the deep zones in Lake Superior.

Logs and trees drowned beneath man-made reservoirs suffer little or no degradation in the low-oxygen environments. Bogs and peat lands are also excellent preservers: Kauri trees that fell into New Zealand peat lands and were buried 50,000 years ago are preserved so well that they’re now being unearthed and sold to furniture makers and other woodworkers. —SID PERKINS

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