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Life on Mars

Bioenergy with cabon capture technology (BECCS) is currently touted as a possible climate change superhero

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Mars, an exclusive club for billionaires
Mars, an exclusive club for billionaires

I never thought I’d be saying this, but I don’t want to live on Mars. However, as I’m not rich enough and my timing is slightly premature, my wish will be granted. How anyone thinks life on the red planet could be peachy (the dust alone would get everywhere) is beyond me, but those billionaire boys in Silicon Valley and some of our greatest minds (Prof Stephen Hawking for one) believe colonisation on other planets is the only way to ensure the survival of the human race. Great.

 

Back on Earth things aren’t looking so good. The events of the last few days in particular have shown us the devastating effects of global warming: the impact of the abrupt increase in the earth’s temperature – a rise of 1.2 – 1.4o F in the last century – with the last 13 years the hottest ever recorded.

 

In one of our highlighted news stories this week, we reported on how Geotab data tracked the impact and response to Hurricane Irma in Miami, but the questions that should surely be at the top of every country’s agenda are, can we invent and facilitate enough smart technologies, and can our various governments provide robust policies to turn global warming round?

 

While strides are being made in clean energy, fossil fuels are still burning away. It seems the white elephant in the room is all about carbon removal: sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere.

 

According to an article in YaleEnvironment360 (e360.yale.edu/features/how_far_can_technology_go_to_stave_off_climate_change), the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that at least 500 billion metric tonnes of CO2 are required to be removed from the air this century to counter the worst effects of climate change.

 

Bioenergy with cabon capture technology (BECCS) is currently touted as a possible climate change superhero and what it involves is growing plant material, burning that material for energy, capturing the CO2 emitted during combustion, and storing it underground.

 

Norway has taken the initiative in this area, announcing last year to move ahead with its three CO2 capture projects from an earlier feasibility study. The capture projects represent three different industries: Yara, the world’s largest ammonia production company, Norcem, Norway’s sole cement producer, and Oslo’s waste management and energy recovery CCS project Klemetsrud.

 

According to the Bellona Foundation, the non-profit sustainable environmental organisation, Norway is key to decarbonising European industry as the Norwegian North Sea is perfect for the storage of European CO2 emissions. The CCS (carbon capture and storage) project at Klemetsrud aims to develop large facilities that can provide CO2 storage beyond the needs of Norway.

 

Lack of suitable storage sites have been a frequently used excuse for inaction with regards to CO2 storage and investment in CCS technology across the EU, however, the Bellona Foundation believes that Norway’s stance will help to break this cycle.

 

In the current plan, the preparatory work will be finished by 2019, at which time, a final decision on further investing in the projects will be made. At least one CCS site is expected to be operational by 2022.

 

The financial and economic issues around climate change are deeply challenging but finance and economics aside, we have to apply morality to this situation. Planet Earth is the most beautiful planet in our solar system; it is where we are supposed to be.

 

But seriously, if we don’t get bold and start thinking beyond immediate returns, your progeny will be joining mine when the lights get turned off, looking at the stars and watching the billionaires taking the future of humanity to the Space Hotel on Mars.

 

Melony Rocque

Executive editor

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