“Saving the Planet by Capturing Carbon:” The Solution

Hosted by Larry Smarr, Director, California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), UC San Diego and Irvine

LS: Arctic ice is melting more quickly than we thought.

For the last 100,000 years, CO2 has stayed within a very narrow band. As of 2008, it’s in a fairly vertical progression.

We need to reduce CO2 by 75% by 2050 to maintain global temp stability. Yet, projected emissions will double in that time period if we maintain the status quo.

In 2010, the CTO challenge worked on scaling up renewables. This year, we’re working on carbon sequestration to execute in combination with last year’s solution.

Greenhouse gas emissions are about 75% CO2. Unlike other GHGs, CO2 stays in the atmosphere for thousands of years. It does not dissipate.

Petroleum and coal are the chief sources of GHGs.

Ty Carlson: “Sleep will be in short order and passion will rule the day.” on CTO challenge.

Americans generate the equivalent of the lifecycle of 2.4 trees in carbon.

To compensate for global carbon production, we’d need to reforest the US 7X every year.

Cost of carbon capturing: Using existing technologies, you would need an additional 40% increase in tax. Using newer technologies, it’s only 10%

Storage techniques and carbon capture: alternatives are coming, but they aren’t here today.

Reuse: enhanced oil recovery, urea yield boosting, enhanced geothermal systems, polymer processing, algae production, mineralization.

Due to the size and scope, we’ll need to develop strong leadership.

China and US dominate global emissions, followed by india, Japan and the Russian federation. We’ll need to look to the example of the Apollo-Soyuz space project to mobilize and unite nations that have traditionally been at odds through technology and innovation.

This month Shanghai hit an air quality index of 500, maxing out scale.

We need to create partnerships to solve the problem

Engaging China

China and the US are both shutting down their most polluting coal facilities

Convert inefficient coal power plants to efficient natural gas to lower CO2

What to do?

CCS: Engaging the Industry

Enable People to Make Educated Choices

Incent change



Gregory McRae: “I think it’s been one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended.”

Flood of good ideas. Generally, climate change conferences make you feel depressed.

“This is one of the first times I’ve actually felt tremendously energized.”

Liked: global nature of presentation, many solutions, but solutions that scale, education — helping people to make informed choices. Naive belief that if you give people the info to make decisions, they’ll generally make the right ones. Collaboration- there are real precedents for collaboration at scale.

Recommendations: Bring change-makers together at FiRe, without handlers.

Eric Openshaw: Crowd-sourcing aspect was fantastic.

LS: FiRe

John Delaney: 1/2 oxygen came out of ocean and it absorbs 1/2 of CO2

David Brin: This is exactly what we should do and cannot because of culture war, but it can spur a certain amount of change now.