In order to control global warming, we need to get rid of greenhouse gas. But how can we do it? Cars and young trees give it off, cows poot it out, and power plants produce tons of it. Peter N. Spotts writes in the Christian Science Monitor that a synthetic fuel plant in North Dakota may have found the solution? Bury it.
The Great Plains Synfuels Plant near Beulah, N.D. turns coal into synthetic natural gas, with carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, as the byproduct. They've begun sending the CO2 through a pipeline an oil field in Saskatchewan, Canada, where it's forced deep underground, into caverns that were once filled with oil. Will the CO2 stay put? Scientists plan to wait and see.
Capture and storage of CO2 "is definitely getting more attention," says David Hawkins, of the Natural Resources Defense Council. An underwater oil field in the North Sea stores its carbon dioxide in an aquifer beneath the ocean floor, in order to avoid Norway's tax on industrial CO2 emissions.
Scott Klara, of the U.S. Department of Energy, says underground deposits will probably become the most popular solution, "if we don't do anything with regard to emissions."
But this holds the same risks for generations living in the far future as does the burial of radioactive waste. Will later generations dig it up by accident and discharge a massive amount of greenhouse gas? A huge and sudden increase in these gases in the distant past caused mass extinctions on Earth.
Burying the evidence--or our heads in the sand--is not going to solve our climate problems.
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