It would seem that there has been some progress in developing an actually useful way of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Essentially it’s a giant vacuum that sucks the CO2 out of the air. It gets around several problems, most notably geography (the devices can be anywhere). While there is energy expended in the proccess, the main guy has the interesting observation
The real issue, says Lackner, is not the energy consumed but the CO2 emitted. He estimates that for every ton of CO2 he captures, he’ll generate another 0.4 ton. But because this process will take place at a plant, where emissions are concentrated relative to air, it will be easily captured.
Pair it up with nuclear power and you’ve got an even bigger net decrease.
One item not mentioned in the article is that it is possible to start this on a small scale without any public/government consensus on the topic. Any meaningful consensus, particularly an international one would most likely be ineffective, slow, corrupt in implementation and captured by special interests from the start.
The above remedy is able to be done by quite a few people with little public input and delay. The Sierra Club, Richard Branson, Wal-Mart, whoever, could just set them up as much as they wanted. It doesn’t get around the free-rider problem, but it does allow private virtue to be accomplished.
For the record, I’m still a skeptic on global warming, but the technology is fascinating.