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Origins Project advocates for atmospheric CO2 extraction

May 14, 2013

The Origins Project is a multi-disciplinary effort at Arizona State University designed to “explore the questions of who we are and where we are from.”  The Project has long been interested in the topic of  climate change, and a team of 15 Project-affiliated scientists has published a paper advocating research into large scale extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere (something the British have already successfully demonstrated).  In an introduction to this position published in Slate, Project Director Lawrence Krauss denies that this is a geo-engineering project (although he really just carefully defines geo-engineering to exclude this idea).

Extraction of CO2 from the environment may indeed become a viable option, but it will probably follow on from existing and ongoing efforts to extract CO2 at production sites, turning it into useful methanol.   Nobel prize winning chemist George Olah has long advocated this capture and utilization of CO2 and has envisioned the eventual extraction of atmospheric CO2, but Olah’s vision is one that would be supported by market economies.  The great advantage of Olah’s approach is that it will allow us to continue using our vast supplies of fossil fuels in an efficient and environmentally friendly manner.  There is a role for governmental action in this scheme, but it would be more in creating the regulatory environment needed to foster a methanol economy than in direct financial support for research.

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