Environmental (Ir)responsibility

I got a free one-year subscription to Smithsonian magazine by cashing in on some internet money I made doing surveys. Cool, huh? But that’s not the point of this post.

The point is that in my most recent Smithsonian magazine I happened across a quick one-page article on Wallace Broecker, a geochemist based, I believe, in Palisades, New York, and this article left me pretty infuriated. The full interview can supposedly be found at Smithsonian.com/broecker, but after much double-checking of the address, and a search of the magazines webpage I have been unable to uncover this mythical extended interview…which is unfortunate, because in the extended interview there might be an explanation for some of his bone-headed statements regarding how to combat global warming. It’s one thing for the uneducated to persist in the desecration of Earth, it’s quite another for someone apparently trying to do good, to turn around and either knowingly or unknowingly piss all over that good intention.

This man was one of the first in the 1970’s to warn the world that our climate was going to start heating up due to greenhouse gasses, carbon dioxide and the like. He has co-authored a book just recently, “Fixing Climate,” which claims that…

“we must not only reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) but also remove it from the atmosphere on a massive sale to avert environmental ruin.”

Okay, Wallace. I’m with you so far. Tell me more! Wallace has come up with the novel concept of CO2 “scrubbers,” which are devices, approximately ten feet in diameter and fifty feet high. Wallace says concerning these “scrubbers”…

“Each day, a unit would take about a ton of CO2 out of the atmosphere, liquefy it and send it through pipes to wherever it’s going to be stored.”

Awesome, Wallace! That’s a great idea, get on it, I say! My enthusiasm while reading this article was suddenly struck down and turned into abject terror when I went on to read that the ideal place of storage for this CO2 is the deep sea. Now, to Wallace’s credit he suggests that the CO2 be used in some kind of catalyst in basaltic terrains to make minerals, but his ideology is focused on what would be a safe way to store this CO2 for us. Not the ocean…but us.

I am immediately reminded of a lecture I attended at college where the lecturer showed images and data of nuclear materials stored in the deep sea in corroded barrels. Miles and miles of cables run over the sea floor, for what purpose I don’t remember. I am also reminded of dead-zones that exist in the ocean, most of the time existing due to human activity, some times not. Recently a dead zone off of the west coast was identified as naturally occurring.

In any case, the tendency for people to believe that the ocean is a safe place to store anything, other than what the ocean puts there itself, is alarming.

Two years ago I left that marine lecture with the full intent to do more research, and to write some letters to congress, or the president, or something. Now I’m thinking that the problem is bigger than just some evil people throwing nuclear waste into the ocean…now we have to worry about the environmentalists, too.


~ by Delgado on May 23, 2008.

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