Climate Change and CO2 Emissions

Flue gas emitted from an installation (Image from Pexels)

Anthropogenic (man-made) carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into the atmosphere are considered to be a primary cause of climate change. Naturally occuring CO2 is essential to life as it makes the Earth habitable by trapping heat from the sun in the earth's troposphere. However, an excess causes too much heat being trapped, which causes an increase in the earth's temperature, a consequence of which is thought to be climate change. Our modern-day lives produce a historically excessive amount of CO2 emissions that earth's natural COsinks such as plant photosynthesis) cannot process. CCUS (Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage) is one of the methodologies that allows us to continue to operate CO2-producing industrial processes, but with reduced CO2 emission to the atmosphere. These processes include fossil fuel combustion for energy production, and cement, steel, fertilizer and many other industrial operations. CCUS refers to technology that captures CO2 produced by these industries before it is released into the atmosphere, and other atmospheric CO2, which is then compresses and either utilized for a useful purpose or safely stored. 

Although anthropogenic CO2 emission as a main cause of climate change is not universally accepted, an argument can be made that there is a non-zero probability that this is the case.  Due to the potentially disastrous consequences of taking no action to mitigate COemissions and being wrong about their effect on climate change, a motivation to take immediate steps to mitigate COemissions can be made by invoking the analogy with the philosopher Blaise Pascal's argument for the existence of God.