I’m not going to go into detail lest I endanger the job of the concierge who let me slip in the door (or, rather, fell for the line I fed him), but I really did. I slipped through the doors of the conference center and hung out for a day with a host of brilliant minds as they tackled what they see as the sticky problem of global warming.1
I learned a number of interesting and important things:
- Nothing makes you feel stupid faster than hanging around a bunch of brilliant people.
- Nothing makes you realize how much in life you haven’t accomplished by hanging around a bunch of hyperdriven Type A personalities.
- A high IQ does not always mean a well-designed PowerPoint presentation.
- Or for that matter, a scintillating manner of public speaking. Or even something above a soporific monotone.
- Persons who have inadequate English As A Second Langauge skills become riveting speakers in the light of items 3 and 4. And most importantly,
- Hang out with brilliant people long enough and you begin to question their brilliance – if not their sanity.
The reason I am questioning their sanity right now is because I learned what their solution to the problem is. They are going to take the infamous greenhouse gas carbon dioxide out of the air, mostly at the source of production (such as a refinery or coal fired power plant), inject it into naturally occurring saline water, and then…
Are you sitting down?
They shoot this fizzy slush down into the ground where it can’t escape.2 Then it will turn into harmless minerals like the stuff we put on our roads in the winter… over geological time.3
I took a couple of things away from this symposium after learning that news.
First, does this strike anyone as sounding ridiculous? Or am I the only one? The most brilliant minds in the world got together and decide to save the world by taking the scary stuff and burying it in a hole in the ground.
Hmmm. Sound familiar? No, I’m not talking about that time in third grade when you buried those Math tests you got an “F” on and then the family dog dug them up and you spent the entire summer washing your dad’s car. I’m talking about how CO2 now has the same status as nuclear waste. The ironic thing is that nuclear power is now starting to look pretty good by comparison to the eyes of these brilliant minds.
Now for irony squared: while burying nuclear waste (which also is rendered safe over geological time) is an unacceptable solution to many, they have no problem with burying CO2.
Second, why the big panic about all this Carbon stuff anyway? This stuff is called fossil fuel, right? Meaning it came from fossils, which were once living things. Living things made of carbon. Where did they get the carbon from? According to the laws of conservation of matter and energy, it just didn’t show up in their bodies. It had to have come from somewhere.
Yeah, that’s right. The carbon we’re worried about putting into the air was already there at one time in the past.
Third. Since all of this carbon is there, isn’t it kind of dumb to put it back in the ground for millions of years? Shouldn’t we figure out how to recycle it back into more fossil fuels and get the price of gas back down to $0.26 a gallon?
Fourth. I’m sure the people of the year 1,000,048 will be really, really grateful for all of the calcium carbonate we will have left them. I think their comments will translate into something that sounds like this: “What were they thinking?”
Finally, isn’t it the epitome of arrogance to think that we can save the world by taxing ourselves into oblivion to suck out insubstantial amounts of a gas that is produced by nature in mind-boggling amounts? And that nature has done a great job taking care of in equally mind-boggling proportions?
Okay, let me wipe the foam off of my lips. It’s time to do a little speculation. See, this symposium also stoked some coal into the furnace of my writer’s imagination,4 and I began to foresee future events if all of this stick-it-in-a-hole-in-the-ground nonsense comes to pass:
- A future megadisaster brought about by seismic and/or volcanic activity which in turn triggers a climatological catastrophe – called by survivors “The Great Cosmic Burp.”
- A really heavy tax on soda pop and beer.
- Alka Selter? Illegal.
- A 40% increase in our utility bills. No, wait. That’s the reality of this program.
- A Brazil-like world where our automobiles carry huge tanks on their roofs that are collectors for Carbon Dioxide, which have to be taken to special garages to be bled off so the stuff can be buried. Whatever you do, please don’t tell Al Gore about this one.
- And speaking of, I also foresee a time when people have rebelled against all of this nonsense. The lasting legacy of this time of ecological madness we’re spinning into will be what future psychologists will call “Al Gore’s Syndrome” – wherin someone becomes so embittered by a catastrophic loss (let’s say, oh… the loss of a presidential election) that the sufferer goes to Machiavellian lengths to prove their continued relevance.
- Once everyone is taxed into poverty to do this, they decide to tackle the natural production of Carbon Dioxide. They put huge domes over volcanoes and Yellowstone Park, with giant tubes leading up into the sky where the evil stuff bleeds out into space. But wait, Carbon Dio is heavier than air, so we’ll need giant fans to draw it all out before these places turn into Venus. So before long everybody’s tax rate is 110%. When everybody runs out of money, then someone gets the bright idea to file a class action lawsuit against God.
- With the Earth finally restored to pristine greenness, cluttered only by the mud huts we now live in because we can’t afford anything else, we now turn our eyes to hunting down all of those automobiles and factories on Mars. A massive armada of (wind powered) space craft are built so we can go explore and save Mars! After all, it’s warming up at the same rate that we are, and, well… it sure ain’t doing it by itself. There must be some form of intelligent life there that is destroying the planet.
Scary stuff? If it is, keep in mind, it’s only fiction.
- It’s only sticky if you believe that we’re causing the problem. I for one don’t buy for a minute that we are.
- By the way, potentially toxic gasses do not “escape.” They “migrate.” The brightest minds in the world taught me that, too.
- Translation: bazillions of years.
- How’s that for a green metaphor?