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NanoMan copy

A new technology is being refined that could reverse years of carbon forcings, given sufficiently wide application, and do so at a profit. That profit should not require the kind of costly subsidies that are now routinely paid to green crony capitalists. Instead, the profit should derive from real market demand for a valuable material. The MIT Technology Review covers the technology under “How To Suck Carbon From The Air, Make Stuff From It“. It makes possible a form of carbon capture that produces carbon nanotubes, a promising material already in use but having much wider potential. From the second link above:

Carbon nanotubes are a great example of how useful materials are being developed. This material is said to be one hundred times stronger than steel because of its ‘molecular perfection’ as explained in the paper ‘Year 2050: Cities in the Age of Nanotechnology’ by Peter Yeadon. In addition, because carbon atoms can bond with other matter; such material can be an ‘insulator, semi-conductor or conductor of electricity’”.

Carbon nanotubes have remarkable properties that will revolutionize fabrics and allow buildings to have incredible strength, “transient features” such as variable transparency, and shape shifting. The new technology is said to be more efficient than existing methods of producing carbon nanotubes, and probably much cheaper.

The first link above quotes the developers on the technology’s massive potential for carbon capture:

They calculate that given an area less than 10 percent of the size of the Sahara Desert, the method could remove enough carbon dioxide to make global atmospheric levels return to preindustrial levels within 10 years, even if we keep emitting the greenhouse gas at a high rate during that period.

That area is twice the size of California, but a much more modest deployment would certainly reduce the political pressure to decrease carbon emissions. The extent would depend upon the demand for nanotubes, which is expected to grow dramatically in the presence of declining costs. Perhaps we’ll want more carbon emissions if nanotube materials come into widespread use. That would be a welcome development in the developing world, where fossil fuels hold the potential to lift millions out of poverty, as they have for advanced countries in the past. However, such a change would require elites to acknowledge and yield to the supremacy of markets over politics.

A technology capable of such significant carbon capture obviously constitutes a negative carbon “forcer”. Therefore, another implication is that climate models with a heavy emphasis on carbon forcings may be rendered moot. Those models have persistently generated over-predictions of global temperatures, so a deemphasis is already long overdue.

Another hat tip to my buddy John Crawford, who recently has fed me some great information. John should accept my invitation to guest-blog on SCC sometime soon, or start his own blog!