For some decades now, a steady stream of marvelous solutions to climate change have paraded past, to great fanfare…most of them false. Some of them have come by twice, like the glorious Hydrogen Economy, which now comes in several colors, and CCS—Carbon Capture and Sequestration. CCS wore the shiny black dress of “Clean Coal” last time and is now calling itself CCUS, with the U standing for Usage. Mostly this means using captured carbon dioxide to push more oil out of old depleted wells. Even if the CO2 stays in the old well, the oil it pushes out will release more emissions than are sequestered—yet there are fat subsidies for doing this, in the name of climate action.
Then there’s nuclear power—that one has popped up again just lately, now in the guise of Small Modular Reactors. Being small and modular won’t change the many reasons nuclear power is a very bad idea, from the lack of safe ways to dispose of the waste—still, after half a century of piling it up—to its vulnerability to terrorism and accidents, to its being the most expensive of all energy sources.
There are various flavors of schemes to burn biomass to produce power, from wood-fired electricity to generating liquid fuels from corn or other crops. So far none of these looks to be sustainable or effective (effective at reducing emissions, that is—they may be very effective at garnering subsidies). As deforestation is a leading cause of climate change, burning wood to make electricity is senseless. Burning agricultural waste removes needed organic matter from soils. An occasional small biomass project may make sense, but this is not a significant way of replacing fossil fuels.
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