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Carbon capture and storage

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Video Presentation


Challenged by Carbon: The Oil Industry and Climate Change
Bryan Lovell
Earth Sciences, Cambridge


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Talk Description
Earth scientists have long been leading actors in oil exploration and production. They now have additional roles to play in the petroleum industry. One of these new responsibilities is setting out clearly to the widest possible audience the geological arguments for controlling the release of carbon to the atmosphere by human use of fossil fuels. Tackling the carbon challenge requires a depth of public conviction that will come from observational science, rather than from models of imperfectly understood Earth systems. The development in the last century of techniques for dividing geological time into thousands rather than millions of years enables us to bring previous warming events such as that at 55 Ma onto a human timescale (Norris and Rohl, 1999). The cause or causes of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) remain uncertain, but its effects on life are clear enough to show that this 55 Ma warming event is not something we would wish to repeat through our own agency. A transient uplift event in the nascent North Atlantic Ocean may have triggered the PETM (Nisbet and others, 2009). We do know that this transient uplift at 55 Ma led to the formation of the Forties Sandstones in the early North Sea. The oil industry was offered four useful things by that 55 Ma uplift; a reservoir for four billions of barrels of oil, a warning of the deleterious effects for humankind of burning that oil, an example of a potential storage site for carbon captured from coal-fired power stations (Lovell, 2009), and a mechanism for rapid changes in relative sea-level in non-glacial times (Lovell, 2010)

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