Brent Constantz 2011-2012 Seminar Series
January 30, 2012
World Governments cannot sustainably fund uneconomical schemes of incentives and global projects aimed at slowing the acceleration of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Not even at maximal implementation would wind, solar, tidal energy, low emission vehicles, carbon capture and sequestration, and further emission controls on carbon-based electrical power generation and industrial plants have a significant near-term impact. Even if developed countries paid developing countries $100 per ton of carbon dioxide not emitted, the developing countries would be paying over one trillion dollars per year before even addressing their own emissions. Government funding of grand geoengineering schemes to reduce the sunlight reaching Earth’s surface do nothing to address ocean acidification from high levels of accumulating carbon dioxide and would cost trillions to implement, so are not workable. Mankind’s largest addition to Earth over the last millennia has been the built environment we’ve created: roads, bridges, buildings, tunnels, causeways, dams, buildings, pyramids, sea walls, and canals. Over the last century, the materials used to make these structures have transitioned from mainly stone and early lime cement to concrete and steel. Many efforts are underway to reutilize anthropogenic carbon dioxide, making valuable products like cement and aggregate and specialty chemicals. While there are many economic benefits to small volume applications like specialty chemicals, in order to impactfully implement global carbon dioxide levels, carbon consumption by reutilization will need to count in the billions of tons of carbon dioxide per year. The built environment today, with 12 billion tons of concrete produced every year and over 30 billion tons of stone aggregate mined every year, appear to be the only target carbon sinks that have the sustainable volume needed to permanently sequester billions of tons of carbon dioxide per year in an economically sustainable manner.