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30 Fairmont Park Lane S
Lethbridge, AB
T1K 7H7
Phone: (403) 328-1804
Sunday, February 11, 2007
The Editor
The Lethbridge Herald
P.O. Box 670
Lethbridge, AB, T1J 3Z7
Dear Editor, 

A toast to Sir Richard Branson!  His offer of a $25 million prize for the first scientist to come up with a way to extract greenhouse gases from the atmosphere is miserly to an extreme.  I say miserly as the prize amounts to ¼ cent per tonne of carbon dioxide removed in a world that is talking $25 per tonne avoided. Still, his prize will surely bring needed attention to this aspect of greenhouse gas control (Tycoon offers prize to cut climate change, 07/02/10) 

Many such ideas have already been brought forth. Active research and development is underway. Some have proposed fertilizing the ocean to increase the uptake of carbon dioxide by growing organisms. Their shells would ultimately sink to the ocean floor.  Others have proposed building machinery to physically separate the carbon dioxide from the air. Another group is interested in utilizing the carbon dioxide removing ability of growing plants. Currently wasted plant material would be processed to produce durable forms of carbon based fertilizer to build and rebuild soil while trapping carbon there. 

Why do we hear so little of these ideas? Close examination of the Kyoto Protocol reveals it is subtly structured to avoid incentives for atmospheric carbon removal processes. Environmental groups, which have been heavily involved in the design of Kyoto, are blinded by their single minded desire to prevent emissions of carbon dioxide. Their promotional propaganda pushes related “solutions” and drives the results of opinion polls. The hapless policies of Kyoto and our poll driven governments thus focus on emissions reduction and almost totally ignore other possibilities.  

There are doubts about the need to control carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Still, if it does turn out control is needed; we will make no progress till we raise our sights to address the issue. Hopefully, Sir Richard Branson has done just that. 

 Yours truly, 

Duane Pendergast


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