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Geoengineering Goes Mainstream

The MIT Technology Review — one of my favorite magazines —
writes about geoengineering in the January/February 2010 issue. Much of what is said in the article will be familiar to people who have read SuperFreakonomics, but it also talks about carbon capture, which we didn’t discuss much.
The more I have thought about these issues, the more I have become convinced that carbon capture is going to end up being the centerpiece of long-term geoengineering solutions. There are good reasons to be optimistic that in 50 to 100 years we will be able to remove carbon dioxide from the air for one-thousandth or one-millionth the current costs. While that may seem fanciful at first blush, think about the rate of increase in computing speeds over the last 30 years, for instance. If carbon capture will get cheap and scalable, then the current focus on reducing carbon dioxide emissions (as opposed to keeping the temperature of the earth stable via geoengineering in the short run until carbon capture becomes routine) looks misguided. I suspect that with the failure more or less of Copenhagen (surprise, surprise), we will be hearing more and more about geoengineering.