The Case for Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS)

Guest “picking a fight with both sides” by David Middleton

JUL 15, 2019
EPA Drilling Regulations Remain Underrated Obstacle to Solving Global Warming

William Murray
Manager, Energy

Meeting the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming will be impossible unless the United States leads the way.


What remains is CCS technology, which the oil and gas industry has used to enhance the recovery of oil for the past nearly 50 years. Each year, this technology already traps more than 60 million tons of carbon dioxide permanently underground, preventing it from entering the atmosphere and contributing to global temperature increases. Congress has incentivized industrial companies to invest in this kind of CCS technology through tax breaks, but companies still are running into problems. Of paramount concern is the Environmental Protection Agency’s oversight of the well-drilling that is the necessary prerequisite for storing CO2 underground.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has oversight authority over the Safe Drinking Water Act’s rules that protect the country’s 151,000 public water systems. In general, this oversight works pretty well, permitting thousands of industrial wells to be drilled every year with virtually no damage to underground sources of drinking water.

In 2010, the EPA created a new class of drilling category especially for geologic storage of CO2 on the presumption that there would be demand for the technology. Instead of streamlining the practice, however, the EPA created overly prescriptive rules, onerous reporting requirements, and unintended liability issues — all of which have led to costly lag times in project development. In nearly a decade since the EPA initiated these Class VI permits, fewer than 10 have been licensed, even though tax breaks were supposed to lower the investment risk for companies.

In 2011, Illinois-based Archer Daniels Midland applied for an EPA well permit to place 1 million tons of carbon dioxide into an underground saline aquifer. But the newness of the permit-type, combined with disagreements over long-term liability issues, meant the project took roughly six years to finalize. The Illinois project remains the only major attempt to sequester carbon deep underground; two other efforts in Montana and Kansas were derailed due to permit issues.


In the decade-plus since passage of the fracking exemption, U.S. oil and gas production has exploded well beyond what was originally thought possible — from 5 million barrels a day to almost 13 million barrels a day — while the country could become a net exporter of crude oil and oil products by 2020. Meanwhile, the boost in natural gas production has displaced coal use for electricity, causing U.S. emissions to fall more than 10 percent from their peak in 2005.

Under the right circumstances, a similar change can occur in carbon capture and storage.


R Street

Irony can be so ironic… EPA regulations designed to facilitate carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) are actually inhibiting CCS projects.

R Street?

R Street is basically a RINO think tank; former South Carolina Representative Bob Inglis is on their Board of Directors.

R Street is partly good…

R Street is a free-market think tank with a pragmatic approach to public policy challenges. We draw inspiration from such thinkers as Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, Ronald H. Coase, James M. Buchanan and Arthur C. Pigou.

We favor consumer choice; low, flat taxes; regulation that is transparent and applied equitably and systems that rely on price signals rather than central planning. Thus, it is fair to say we are on the political right.

Figure 1. Milton Friedman rocks!!! Well… rocked when he was alive.

Partly bad…

At the same time, we recognize that public goods, natural monopolies and externalities are real concerns that governments must address.

So much for being inspired by Milton Friedman.

Partly sort of realistic…

We also understand that life in a democratic society sometimes means reaching a compromise that doesn’t necessarily represent a first, best solution.

We offer research and analysis that advance the goals of a more market-oriented society and an effective, efficient government, with the full realization that progress on the ground tends to be made one inch at a time. In other words, we look for free-market victories on the margin.

R Street
Figure 2. Sometimes stated as, “Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good.”

R Street’s energy “expert,” William Murray is the former editor of RealClearPolitics‘ energy page, “has a bachelor’s degree in American and British literature from Whitman College and master’s degrees in journalism and security studies from Columbia and Georgetown University, respectively.”

Firstly, you have to filter out all of the alarmist nonsense. “Solving global warming” is not an urgent matter. It’s not even something that can be “solved.” Mr. Murray is not a scientist, certainly not a geologist… Nor is he an energy industry professional. Like most of the R Street RINO’s, he appears to totally buy into the “climate crisis” horst schist. But he does have a point about CCS.

Secondly, for any of this to make sense, you have to accept the real probability that each doubling of atmospheric CO2 increases the bulk temperature of the atmosphere by anywhere from 0.5 to 1.5 °C and that a rapid rise of atmospheric CO2 beyond 1,000 ppmv could yield some unpredictable changes in marine geochemistry. Clearly a doubling of the assumed pre-industrial CO2 concentration of 280 ppmv, will not lead to a climate crisis, catastrophe or emergency… But, could a tripling or quadrupling of that 280 ppmv pose a potential problem in a couple of hundred years? Maybe.

If you accept these parameters of what may become somewhat of a problem over the next few hundred years, carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is a logical part of the solution… Particularly since it can be implemented slowly.

It’s a fossil fueled world!

Figure 3. It’s a fossil fueled world. (BP Statistical Review of World Energy)

It’s a fossil fueled world and that’s not going to significantly change over the next 50 years, not even if little Greta stomps her feet and holds her breath until she’s blue in the face.

Figure 4. Gas will continue to kick @$$… Sorry Greta. (EIA AEO 2019)

You can actually get there from here: Drill, baby, drill!

This paper from the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) website is an excellent summary of CCS and CCSU, once you get past the standard recitation of IPCC horst schist.

Carbon Capture and Sequestration
Michael Sheppard


Geological Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide

In all cases where fossil fuels are the source of energy, CO2 is inevitably produced; if we are to prevent this CO2reaching the atmosphere, CCS will be absolutely essential. CCS lends itself most readily to applications in which power is produced centrally (as in the case of coal-powered electricity stations). CO2 can be stripped from power-station emissions by a number of means, and these captured emissions can be compressed, transported, and stored.


The volumes of CO2 that need to be dealt with, however, are large. Emissions of CO2 currently run at over 30 billion tons a year, and sequestering just a tenth of this would entail pumping about 75 million barrels of supercritical CO2per day into geological formations. At the level of an individual power plant, sequestering CO2 from a 500-MW coal-fired power station would require pumping around 75,000 B/D1 of supercritical CO2 into a suitable formation.

The expertise and the technologies needed to sequester such volumes already exist to a large degree within the oil and gas industry. Several demonstrations of CO2 sequestration already are underway, including the In Salah saline formation project in Algeria (Riddiford et al. 2004) and the Sleipner project in the Norwegian North Sea.


Society of Petroleum Engineers
Figure 5. Putting it back in the ground. (Society of Petroleum Engineers)

EOR: The win-win aspect

Enhanced Oil Recovery Using CO2
CO2 is already pumped into oil reservoirs for enhanced oil recovery (EOR), although most of the CO2 currently used for EOR comes from natural sources, and existing EOR practices are not implemented with a view to storing CO2. However, it would be possible to modify CO2 EOR to emphasize CO2 storage while at the same time improving oil recovery. Although CO2 EOR would not provide accommodation for more than a very small fraction of the volume of CO2 currently emitted, it does provide a laboratory for technologies required for routine sequestration that is driven by the commercial incentive to improve recovery of the oil from older reservoirs. Moreover, in a world where CO2 is much more readily and cheaply available, there will be an incentive to use CO2 earlier in the oil-recovery stage to better exploit dwindling resources.

Society of Petroleum Engineers

Currently, about 300,000 bbl/d of US oil production is due to CO2 enhanced oil recovery (EOR). As recently as EIA’s 2014 Annual Energy Outlook, this was projected to significantly increase due to high oil prices.

Figure 6. Putting it back in the ground to get more oil out of the ground. (US EIA)

The US Department of Rick Perry, I mean Energy, estimates that CO2 EOR could recover about 85 billion barrels of oil from existing U.S. oil fields:

Figure 7. Don’t leave it in the ground! Make room for more CO2! (US DOE)
Figure 8. It’s just a matter of economics. (US DOE)

How can we know it will work safely?

This is what CO2 EOR has safely done since 1972:

Discovered in 1948, the SACROC unit is one of the largest and oldest oil fields in the United States using carbon dioxide flooding technology. The field is comprised of approximately 50,000 acres located in the Permian Basin in Scurry County, Texas. Kinder Morgan owns an approximate 97 percent working interest in SACROC and has expanded the development of the carbon dioxide project initiated by previous owners and increased production over the last several years.

In 2016, SACROC produced approximately 29,300 barrels of oil per day, and NGL production averaged approximately 20,900 barrels per day. Kinder Morgan continues to effectively develop this mature field through innovative use of seismic data, lateral drilling and advanced conformance techniques.

Kinder Morgan

Since 1972, over 175 million metric tons of CO2 have been injected into the SACROC reservoir; there has never been any evidence of leakage.

SACROC was discovered in 1948. When the injection began, total recovery was less than 20% of the original oil in place (OOIP). The CO2 EOR has led to nearly a 50% recovery of the OOIP and the field is still going strong.

Figure 9. With over 50% of the OOIP recovered, SACROC is still producing almost 30,000 bbl of oil and 21,000 bbl of natural gas liquids per day.

Are there hazards?

There are always drilling hazards and these are very similar to those of drilling oil & gas wells and operating wastewater injection wells.

CO2 injection wells can experience well control incidents (kicks, blowouts, etc.), in much the same manner as oil & gas wells do. These are rare, relative to the numbers of wells drilled and the industry goes to great lengths to prevent and/or mitigate well control incidents, but no human industry is perfect.

Depleted oil & gas fields are the ideal repositories because there is little or no risk of induced seismicity and the fact that there was oil and/or gas trapped there means that there is a competent geologic seal. The main risk here is that the old wells weren’t properly plugged and abandoned (P&A’ed). There would have to be close monitoring for leakage in the vicinity of the old wells. Improperly P&A’ed wells might have to be drilled out and properly P&A’ed.

Saline aquifers have the advantage of having few, if any, old wellbores. They also have the disadvantage of being at virgin pressure. The main risk here is induced seismicity. Detailed geotechnical analyses would have to be conducted prior to drilling injection wells and the area would have to be carefully monitored for seismicity during injection.

CO2 injection operations have been safely conducted for decades. The safety record is on par with that of drilling and producing oil & gas wells, excellent, but not perfect.

If oil companies are doing this anyway, why should it be subsidized?

Oil companies are doing this where it makes economic sense under current economic conditions and about 80% of the CO2 comes from natural reservoirs, where it is sufficiently concentrated for economic extraction. Taking CO2 out of natural reservoirs for EOR operations does not address the problem, to the extent there is one.

Figure 10. Current sources of CO2 for EOR operations. (US DOE)

CO2 EOR operations are expensive and rarely justified with oil prices below $85/bbl.

Implementing a CO2 EOR project is a capital-intensive undertaking. It involves drilling or reworking wells to serve as both injectors and producers, installing a CO2 recycle plant and corrosion resistant field production infrastructure, and laying CO2 gathering and transportation pipelines. Generally, however, the single largest project cost is the purchase of CO2. As such, operators strive to optimize and reduce the cost of its purchase and injection wherever possible.

Higher oil prices in recent years have significantly improve the economics of CO2 EOR. However, oil field costs have also increased sharply, reducing the economic margin essential for justifying this oil recovery option to operators who still see it as bearing significant risk. Both capital and operating costs for an EOR project can vary over arange, and the value of CO2 behaves as a commodity, priced at pressure, pipeline quality, and accessibility, so it is important for an operator to understand how these factors might change. Total CO2 costs (both purchase price and recycle costs) can amount to 25 to 50 percent of the cost per barrel of oil produced. In addition to the high up-front capital costs of a CO2 supply/injection/recycling scheme, the initial CO2 injection volume must be purchased well in advance of the onset of incremental production. Hence, the return on investment for CO2 EOR tends to be low, with a gradual, long-term payout.

Given the significant front-end investment in wells, recycle equipment, and CO2, the time delay in achieving an incremental oil production response, and the potential risk of unexpected geologic heterogeneity significantly reducing the expected response, CO2 EOR is still considered to be a risky investment by many operators, particularly in areas and reservoirs where it has not been implemented previously. Oil reservoirs with higher capital cost requirements and less favorable ratios of CO2-injected-to-incremental-oil produced will not achieve an economically justifiable return on investment without advanced, high-efficiency CO2 EOR technology and/or fiscal/tax incentives for storing CO2.


If the government wants oil companies to spend more of their money on CO2 EOR operations than would be supported by current economics, they need to provide an incentive.  So… they devised a tax credit to encourage oil companies to spend more of their money on CO2 EOR operations. 

Subsidizing something that works makes a helluva lot more sense than subsidizing green schist that doesn’t work. The Section 45Q tax credit was established in 2008, it was enhanced in 2018 in an unusually bipartisan fashion.

A bipartisan group of Senators, spearheaded by Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), John Barrasso (R-WY), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), led the effort to enhance the 45Q credit. Their bill, S. 1535, the Furthering carbon capture, Utilization, Technology, Underground storage, and Reduced Emissions Act (FUTURE Act), was included in Senate Finance Committee Chairperson Orrin Hatch’s (R-UT) larger tax extenders bill, S. 2256, before finally gaining inclusion in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.

The Nickel Report

Time is actually on our side

The good thing is that we have decades, if not centuries, to address this potential problem and improve the technology. Just sequestering 10% of fossil fuel CO2 emissions would require an injection rate almost equal to the current global crude oil production rate. However, as natural gas advanced combined cycle and, hopefully, nuclear power plants replace retiring coal-fired plants, the volume of CO2 requiring sequestration will rapidly shrink. And there are promising technological advances that could drastically and economically reduce CO2 emissions from natural gas-fired power plants.

Experimental Texas power plant aims to make electricity cheaper, cleaner

Erin Douglas March 1, 2019

LA PORTE — Just off of Highway 225 past the refineries and coal stacks that line the freeway, one small plant is proving that generators can make electricity without emissions. Nothing that turns into acid rain. Nothing that makes it hard to breathe. Nothing that contributes to climate change.

Distinguished from the other industrial sites only by a green leaf on its sign, the demonstration plant has been testing operations for just under a year to prove a power technology that, instead of emitting carbon dioxide, heats it to drive the turbines that make electricity. All but 3 percent of the carbon dioxide is recycled to produce more electricity; the rest can be captured and stored,ready for pipelines to customers in the oil and gas and other industrial industries.


NET Power, backed by a North Carolina investment firm 8 Rivers Capital and other investors, such as the Houston oil company Occidental Petroleum, uses a technology called the Allam power cycle, which heats up carbon dioxide in a combustion chamber to an extremely high temperature — a point known as supercritical carbon dioxide, at which the CO2 gas becomes like a liquid. The process uses the heat and mass of supercritical carbon dioxide to turn the turbines. The carbon dioxide, still very hot, then cools and is recycled through the plant.

The excess carbon dioxide generated by the process could be captured at the correct pressure and quality to be easily transported via pipeline. Normally, in air combustion, sequestration of carbon dioxide is difficult because it is expensive to separate the carbon from the air, and then bring it to the correct pipeline pressure. The Allam power cycle removes the need for this separation.

This is potentially a big deal for Texas, where carbon dioxide that can be transported via pipeline is in demand from its energy and chemical industries. Oil and gas companies can pump carbon dioxide into aging oil wells to increase production, a process known as enhanced oil recovery. It can also be used to make cement.

The $140 million demonstration plant, on West Fairmont Parkway in La Porte, will have the capacity to produce 25 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 5,000 Texas homes on a hot summer day. Construction on the plant began in March of 2016; it began testing operations in May.


NET Power estimates that commercial versions of the plant, which would have a generating capacity of about 300 megawatts, could produce power for $20 per megawatt hour, assuming the federal tax credits that provide incentives for storing carbon dioxide stay in place. That prices also assumes the company can sell their pipeline-ready carbon dioxide for $15 per ton, as well as the nitrogen and argon they produce.

NET Power estimates a combined natural gas cycle produces power at about $44 per megawatt hour, assuming a price of about $2.96 per thousand cubic feet of natural gas. NET Power estimates that 450 of its power plants could replace all the new fossil fuel power plants needed from now until 2040 in the U.S.


Houston Chronicle

This is a rarity, a well-written article from the Houston Chronicle.

How is this different from solar & wind tax credits?

In principle, it isn’t different. In practice, it is subsidizing low-carbon emissions energy production that actually works. While, as a philosophical libertarian, I wish government would not intervene at all, I know that they will and the best we can do is to nudge that intervention in the right direction. Call it a Milton Friedman-Voltaire hybrid philosophy.

Is this a solution in search of a problem?

Maybe. But it’s fairly clear that the U.S. government will eventually impose stricter carbon emissions regulations on fossil fuel consumption. President Trump can only hold the line until January 21, 2025, if we’re lucky. And there are few among Republican Party leadership who would hold the line as well as he has. Apart from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Democrats are 100% on the climate “crisis” bandwagon because they see it as the fast track to socialism, if not outright Marxism.

The political reality is that tighter carbon regulations and/or taxes are very likely in the not to distant future. CCS and CCSU are the least economically harmful path forward.

A note on comments

I fully realize that this post will be disagreed with by both sides of the climate debate. One side will say I am being a denier for minimizing the severity of the “climate crisis” and the other will literally deny the possibility of a problem in the comfortably distant future. I won’t engage in debate either way in the comments section of this post. My responses will be limited to the geological and economic feasibility of carbon capture, sequestration and utilization.

Another Note on comments

Any comments made by people who clearly didn’t read the post, in its entirety, will be ignored by me. How will I know you haven’t read the entire post? It’s usually fairly easy. But, just to be sure… Start you comment with the phrase, Delta House, and that way, I’ll know you read the post.


National Energy Technology Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy. “Carbon Dioxide Enhanced Oil Recovery: Untapped Domestic Energy Supply and Long Term Carbon Storage Solution”. 2010.

Porse, Sean, Sarah Wade, & Susan Hovorka. (2014). “Can We Treat CO2 Well Blowouts like Routine Plumbing Problems? A Study of the Incidence, Impact, and Perception of Loss of Well Control”. Energy Procedia. 63. 7149-7161. 10.1016/j.egypro.2014.11.751.

Sheppard, M. C., R. H. Socolow (2007). “Sustaining fossil fuel use in a carbon constrained world by rapid commercialization of carbon capture and sequestration”. AIChE J 53:3022–3028

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Dave from Maine
July 30, 2019 10:18 am

It is a fact that CO 2 enhances plant growth and crop yield. Why bury it?

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  David Middleton
July 30, 2019 12:24 pm

Delta House


I have previously seen some calculations indicating that we don’t have enough fossil fuel in the ground to raise atmospheric concentrations to 600ppm, let alone “north” of it. Can you expand on this claim? Thanks.

On the outer Barcoo
Reply to  Dave from Maine
July 30, 2019 6:23 pm

For every atom of carbon buried, there will be two atoms of oxygen buried. A bizarre concept.

July 30, 2019 10:22 am

“The trauma patient suffering from hypovolemic shock ! No! don’t give him plasma ! Nurse bring out the leeches !”

Earth’s atmosphere is starved of CO2. Plants are starting to flourish in the higher CO2 levels. The only thing we need to sequester is the IPCC.

Reply to  David Middleton
July 30, 2019 12:04 pm

Plants were starved of CO2 even in pre-industrial concentration of 280ppm.

Less CO2 means C3 plants cannot grow well in arid conditions, so increasing CO2 means a greening of many arid regions in the world. And CO2 reduces with altitude, which again means that plants have trouble growing in arid upland areas of the world.

Increasing CO2 is good for all those many communities who live on marginal lands, but the Greens want these people to starve. The Greens are intrinsically eviI people.


Reply to  David Middleton
July 30, 2019 3:22 pm

CO2 does not now, has never had and never will have a significant effect on average global temperature. Below 150 ppmv CO2, all life on earth becomes extinct.

An informative chart for CO2 is at

Reply to  David Middleton
July 31, 2019 1:42 pm

Delta House

A doubling from 560 to 1120 ppmv = potential problems…”

I respectfully disagree. And I’m going to use your own words to convince you. It’s sort of common knowledge that a temperature rise of the oceans seems to cause an outgassing of CO₂ (giving as an example, the warmer it is the faster your Coke goes flat, is that an incorrect example?) which seems to indicate that warmer is better WRT the oceanic CO₂ levels. You have also stated in another comment that equilibrium between partial pressure of CO₂ in the atmosphere and CO₂ in the ocean will never occur because of ocean currents. Well let me add to that, ocean mass. Isn’t there such a huge mass of ocean water that there are individual molecules of the ocean that may have not been in contact with atmosphere for millions of years? That mass will damp any shock of a “sudden” rise of atmospheric CO₂ so that, to anything living more than a meter deep, it will be as if it never happened. You may be correct in identifying a potential shock to the “…marine calcifiers dependent on aragonite…” if they actually saw CO₂ levels above (the equivalent partial pressure of atmoshperic) 1,000 ppmv within the next century. But because of the huge mass of ocean relative to the mass of air, they won’t.

My biggest problem with your premise, though, is that one after another we have heard this thing, that thing, another thing will Put An End To Life As We Know It!™, and none of them have come true yet. None of them have even started to come true. Despite the most lurid headlines, and the predictions of sometimes instantaneous doom, once we actually started to collect data, the problem has quietly disappeared, because they turned into so much fizz in my Coke when left outside in the sun in the middle of June.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  David Middleton
July 30, 2019 8:48 pm


You sidestepped ralfellis’ central point, which is that above the starvation mark, higher CO2 levels make C3 plants more water efficient by reducing evapotransporation, allowing them to expand their range.

Reply to  David Middleton
July 30, 2019 9:45 pm

Here is a less selective version of that graph.
comment image

It clearly shows ECS steady at about 3C.

Reply to  David Middleton
July 31, 2019 1:22 am

Time to abandon your low ECS and therefore rethink your “luke” status.

When the IPCC’s fifth assessment report was published in 2013, it estimated that such a doubling of CO2 was likely to produce warming within the range of 1.5 to 4.5°C as the Earth reaches a new equilibrium. However, preliminary estimates calculated from the latest global climate models (being used in the current IPCC assessment, due out in 2021) are far higher than with the previous generation of models. Early reports are predicting that a doubling of CO2 may in fact produce between 2.8 and 5.8°C of warming. Incredibly, at least eight of the latest models produced by leading research centres in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and France are showing climate sensitivity of 5°C or warmer.

Reply to  David Middleton
July 31, 2019 9:11 am

Quote: He has no point if he thinks that C3 plants are starving at 280-400 ppmv.

So why is the world greening after concentrations were raised above 280ppm?
Why do greenhouse growers elevate concentrations to 1,000ppm?

Clearly 280ppm was BELOW the optimum for C3 plantlife, which was therefore reducing agricultural and natural productivity, and thereby starving some animals that need not have been starved. Plus the fact that plants can now grow in more arid conditions.

You seem incapable of fully reading and digesting any post.


Reply to  David Middleton
July 31, 2019 8:30 pm

I did read it and I notice that, even if Joel is wrong (Joel O’Bryan July 30, 2019 at 12:59 pm) and CCS is viable, without the assumed low TCR and ECS, CCS is a non-solution and could make things worse by further delaying the curbing of emissions.

Despite there being dozens of research papers showing an ECS average of about 3C you seem to rely singularly on these CO2 vs temp graphs. Can you provide a citation?

Reply to  David Middleton
August 1, 2019 12:37 am

Ok fair enough I didn’t read down to your frat game.

Now how about a posting a link to the source of these graphs that you put so much store in?

Reply to  David Middleton
August 1, 2019 12:41 am

Btw, this is an interesting post and I’ve found several of your replies very informative. So thanks. Maybe you should walk out on that tightrope more often.

Reply to  David Middleton
August 1, 2019 2:59 am

You ask for quotes Ok, lets start with:

“you have to accept the real probability that each doubling of atmospheric CO2 increases the bulk temperature of the atmosphere by anywhere from 0.5 to 1.5 °C”

I’d already seen that link and realised that is what you are basing your sensitivity on.
Here is Nick Stokes politely poking some very large holes in it.

“Why is the correlation so bad below 285 ppm? Well, that’s the data from the lower resolution DSS core. “
The real problem is seen in Fig 3 – they don’t correlate. The reason is simple. You are asking how much temperature changes when CO2 changes. But you have a dataset, until 1850, where CO2 doesn’t change. So you can’t get a correlation. Temperature is changing, and CO2 is not. So T is changing for some other reason.
That doesn’t mean that temperature won’t change if CO2 changes. It just means you are looking in the wrong place.

“Moberg ends in 1979”
And that is the problem. Most CO2 increase is since 1950, so the overlap period is about 30 years. That is all you have to try to determine sensitivity.
“The difference between TCR and ECS is unlikely to be noticed”
You need to look carefully at that diagram. TCR is the slope of the reds. They are responding to the ramp of the greens in the first 70 or so years. The forcing is the same, the TCRs are the same. The taper is in the future.
ECR comes into play after the taper, in the section they have marked with vertical green arrows. And that is where there is a big divergence. The red lags the green for a long time.
“I think the 1.2 °C is TCR, not ECS”
No, the clue is “doubled instantaneously”. CO2 doesn’t double instantaneously; they mean that they are looking at a long enough timescale that a century or so of rise could be considered so. If you look at response to a step change in CO2, you need a temperature to divide it by, to get a CS. But the T keeps increasing. The only T that makes sense is the eventual (asymptotic) limit. ECS.
Another clue is “It is believed that the overall effect of the feedbacks amplifies the temperature increase to 1.5 to 4.5°C.”. This is their standard ECS range.

You say yourself that it contained assumptions that are “probably good enough for a DIY project” and even make jokes about duck tape. So good on you for doing the exercise but sorry that is not in the same league as the dozens of other studies noted here:comment image

That is not a good enough reason for anyone accept 0.5 to 1.5 °C as a “real probability” when the consensus is close to three and as I referenced down thread recent results show that might be an underestimate. More like a remote possibility.

Reply to  David Middleton
August 1, 2019 3:47 am

Here is the full quote from above.

“Secondly, for any of this to make sense, you have to accept the real probability that each doubling of atmospheric CO2 increases the bulk temperature of the atmosphere by anywhere from 0.5 to 1.5 °C”

Conclusion: it doesn’t make sense because the science says 3°C.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Loydo
August 1, 2019 12:25 pm

Going off Lewis and Curry, they derive 1.2 TCS from GISS, which means that that TCS is probably somewhat inflated due to GISS’ “adjustments”.

Reply to  David Middleton
August 1, 2019 4:38 am

No, but having googled it all came back.

Reply to  David Middleton
August 1, 2019 9:01 pm

My back of the envelope calculations shows irradiance has increased by about 40W/m2 in 540 million years. You don’t factor that in? And feed backs? Ignore?

“Some scientists say 3 °C”. Misleading. The average of all the research from all the scientist is about 3 °C.

July 30, 2019 10:56 am

Practical and pragmatic. I try to be only “ist” or “ism” of the various forms of these words.

The market will find a solution.

If it is an invented problem it will be parasitic to human advancement and few humans will be aware of this.

People or Organizations that find a real problem and invent or implement a solution deserve to get paid.

Bruce Cobb
July 30, 2019 11:19 am

Just say no, no, NO to subsidies for CCS. If there is an industrial value to it, the free market will sort it out. There is no other value to it, not to climate certainly. And I don’t buy the argument that they are going to put a price on carbon anyway and this is a better option. Warmunism is on its way out. In a decade it will be as extinct as the Dodo.

Reply to  David Middleton
July 30, 2019 2:49 pm

Congresspeople have a built-in bias for subsidies. The people they subsidize make campaign contributions (investments). The people who don’t get to pay for the subsidies. ^!#! subsidies.

Reply to  Ralph Dave Westfall
July 30, 2019 4:36 pm

+10 that’s what they are elected for.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  David Middleton
July 30, 2019 4:43 pm

So? The US government has said “yes” to lots of things that were either unwise are downright stupid, like the ethanol mandate, and “cash for clunkers”.

Tom Halla
July 30, 2019 11:22 am

Using carbon capture for enhanced oilfield recovery seems responsible, the others are mostly virtue signalling.

Thomas Homer
July 30, 2019 11:34 am

Delta House

I applaud your effort in the face of barbs and arrows from both sides.

What level of atmospheric Carbon Dioxide would Earth have if not for Life consuming it?

Earth’s two sister planets, Venus and Mars, each have 95% CO2 atmospheres. Would Earth be comparable? I imagine the oxygen would form CO2 in its place but what of the nitrogen?

Thomas Homer
Reply to  David Middleton
July 30, 2019 1:24 pm

Wouldn’t the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere bind with Carbon to become CO2 and thus CO2 would be > 20% rather than 0.08% (800 ppmv)?

Thomas Homer
Reply to  David Middleton
July 31, 2019 5:12 am

” If life never evolved, there probably wouldn’t be much oxygen in the atmosphere.”

Exactly! The concentration of CO2 on Earth is so low because Life is consuming it.

CO2 feeds life.

You’re aware of ‘starvation levels’ of CO2 below which life cannot be sustained. But then you say that staying close to starvation levels is preferable. It’s preferable to restrict life?

Reply to  Thomas Homer
July 30, 2019 10:21 pm

Neither Mars nor Venus are hardly even family. The is a completely false idea. The only thing they have in common with Earth is they rotate around the same star.

Thomas Homer
Reply to  JEHill
July 31, 2019 5:17 am

JEHill: “Neither Mars nor Venus are hardly even family. The (sic) is a completely false idea.”

Try again?

Planet Sizes (Largest To Smallest):

•Jupiter – (diameter = 142,800 km)
•Saturn – (diameter = 120,660 km)
•Uranus – (diameter = 51,118 km)
•Neptune – (diameter -= 49,528 km)
•Earth – (diameter = 12,756 km)
•Venus – (diameter = 12,104 km)
•Mars – (diameter = 6787 km)
•Mercury – (diameter = 4879.4 km)

Reply to  Thomas Homer
July 31, 2019 5:19 pm

Yes, of course, you will find a few common parameters but that’s like saying any human with height X are all the same (assuming you are using the (polar radii) * 2 and setting floor of the solar system’s origin point 0,0,0 at the Sun’s South Pole).

Back to the OT, Middleton is usually more concise then he has been on this article. He usually has a more defined bullet pointed way of addressing these things. This particular article he seems to be….rambling a bit or maybe meandering. Reading through entire article a couple times and most of the posting he seems to be trying to marry CCS and EOR with political ideology and environmental policy, etc Sure, “kill two birds( or several ) with one stone” or maybe it is, on Middleton’s part, a stream of consciousness; a brainstorming moment; a group of forward looking statements for the benefit of the politicians.

So far as I can tell this is not a mandated policy. It is not, currently, a direct subsidy. If it becomes a mandated policy, direct subsidy or not, the businesses involved will pass along the costs. Maybe this is also part of Middleton’s point.

Full disclosure on my part, I am currently in talks with two large energy extractors and one energy producer concerning a career change.

July 30, 2019 11:50 am

First find empirical evidence that Carbon Dioxide is doing anything besides making plants grow faster.

Reply to  David Middleton
July 31, 2019 2:05 am

Meaning that the ocean is massively buffered, and CO2 has about as much effect on ocean pH as it does on Global Warming.

July 30, 2019 11:52 am

And the case against is embodied in the Lake Nyos disaster. What is to prevent a large-scale release of CO2 from these wells?


Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  ralfellis
July 30, 2019 1:01 pm

A properly plugged injection well hole.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
July 30, 2019 1:19 pm

Deepwater Horizon. was properly sealed with an emergency ‘christmas tree’ blowout preventer. And what happened?


Reply to  David Middleton
July 31, 2019 9:02 am

Famous last words that could be applied to any CO2 sequestration well – if it had been designed and fabricated properly………
……..10,000 people would not have suffocated.


Joshua Peterson
July 30, 2019 11:55 am

My primary concern, beyond whether or not sequestering CO2 is really a necessity, is the risk of the gas working its way up through the substrate, burping up to asphyxiate anything unfortunate enough to be nearby. That’s a design concern, though, not a stopper for the concept.

July 30, 2019 11:56 am

Why do we want to sequester CO2 at all?
Dr Patrick Moore, the founder of GreenPeace, says we need MORE CO2, not less. (CO2 is plant food – without CO2 all life on Earth will die….)


Reply to  ralfellis
July 30, 2019 12:07 pm

Likewise, Prof William Happer also says we are in the middle of a CO2 drought. We need MORE CO2, not less…


Pat Frank
July 30, 2019 11:56 am

The view from 1880: Clearly a doubling of the assumed pre-industrial horse manure concentration of 280 pounds per square mile (ppsm), will not lead to an urban crisis, catastrophe or emergency… But, could a tripling or quadrupling of that 280 ppsm pose a potential problem in a couple of hundred years? Maybe.

That’s how your logic plays, David.

Does anyone really think that fossil fuels will provide the bulk of our energy in 200 years? In 100 years?

CCS is absolute, money-wasting, playing-into-extremist-hands-by-validating-their-stupidity horst schist.

July 30, 2019 12:01 pm

Delta House..over. How you know I didn’t just read the conclusion…lol?

I agree that some CO2 capture could be commercially ideally without subsidy, especially if CO2 can be commodified for higher and better uses, like more oil production. But, I have a serious question and can’t seem to find an easy answer. Is it possible to just high-grade off say, 20%-25% of a CO2 stream from a smoke stack for relatively cheap, as compared to trying to capture it all that costs a leg and an arm? If just a portion of the ‘carbon’ could be captured and retrofitted to all the 3rd world coal fired plants, then they would instantly be as low CO2 emission as the best present day nat gas plants.

July 30, 2019 12:01 pm

From the article quoted:

Meeting the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming will be impossible unless the United States leads the way.

We are leading the way in less CO2-intensive activities. Where the USA is no longer leading the way is in the role of piggybank for every 3rd World tinhorn dictator and UN Bureaucrat, who are now running low on cash without the U.S. supplied funds.

There’s an assumption in that quoted article that the Paris Agreement would actually do anything to limit Global Warming. As I recall it when being discussed here on WUWT, the Paris Agreement was long on splitting the loot and short on any meaningful effect on Global Warming.

Reply to  David Middleton
July 30, 2019 3:37 pm

Nope. Didn’t see you as taking sides in this post, David, and I should have made it clear that the quote was from William Murray’s piece.

Just putting in my 2¢ on one erroneous assumption that’s made right at the git-go. There’s a lot of that in the Climate Change propaganda game. Couldn’t let it pass.

Reply to  David Middleton
July 31, 2019 1:49 pm

I see your point that too many RINOs have drunk the Kool-Aide and are convinced that Global Warming Climate Change Climate Emergency is an existential threat, but I raise you the point that, as early as the beginning of the 0bummer maladministration, the voting public had made it clear that a cap-and-trade proposal was toxic. There was a Democratic House, a filibuster-proof Democratic Senate, and a Democratic President, and the Cap-And-Trade bill went nowhere. If it ever had a chance of passing, that was it. It did not, I interpret that as no chance. So quit looking for someone to surrender to!

July 30, 2019 12:05 pm

Much easier and more advantageous is deployment of molten salt small modular reactors.
Cheaper too and also can eliminate transportation fleet emissions when the fleet transitions to electric cars.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  ColMosby
July 30, 2019 2:00 pm

I note the word small.
The smaller they are, the more you will need.
Provide a size. Get 5 built and operating.
That would be proof of concept.
Then, determine how many you need for a defined purpose. (What’s that?)
Next get the money, space, permits, and labor to build X/year.
In what future year will ‘MSMRs” be providing Hydro’s share (~7%) of
World energy?
When you have done the above, then we can debate the “Much easier and more advantageous ” aspects.

I wrote “we” but I’ll only be around for another 15 to 20 years.

michael hart
July 30, 2019 12:33 pm

Whether feasible or not, I remain to be convinced that most greens or the EPA actually wan’t CCS to ever work. It still involves, you know, drilling and stuff. They just don’t like that. And something that gives petrochemical industries a boost is something they like even less.

CCS seems to have a strange zombie existence where many people say it shouldn’t be done and many on the other side say it can’t be done (as a very large scale economically sensible project, separate from enhanced recovery). Yet it just won’t lie down.

July 30, 2019 12:35 pm

How much co2 is needed to pump up a barrel of oil with this technology ?

Joel O'Bryan
July 30, 2019 12:59 pm

Some basic rough order of magnitude considerations need to be used to put CCS value-added into perspective.

In 2018 (an moderate El Nino year), atmospheric CO2 rose 2.85 ppm (2.85 ppm/yr)
In 2017 (a moderate La Nina year), CO2 rose 1.89 ppm (1.89 ppm/yr).

Let’s round up and split the difference and say annual CO2 growth is running 2.4 (+/-0.5) ppm/yr with Earth systems in their current regime. That year-to-year growth variation of 0.5 ppm represents 21% of the base annual rise.

Anthropogenic CO2 global emissions for both years are estimated to be around 36.7 (+/- 0.5) Thousand-Million tonnes CO2. With something on the order of 40% to 50% remaining in the atmosphere to give the above CO2 growth rate. Also transportation burning of fossil fuels accounts for about 1/3 of global emissions, electricity generation is about 1/3, and industrial and mineral processes for about 1/3. Let’s assume anthro emissions are going to 40 Gt/annually by 2020.

So doing the basic math, and ignoring growth and lots of other “wishful thinking”, starting in 2020 if CCS is instantaneously 100% applied to electricity generation globally, then 2020 anthropogenic emissions to the atmosphere would be 67% of 40 Gt.

The amount to sequester: 40Gt x 1/3 = 13.3 Gt. But the energy cost of CCS of course is that an additional 40% more fuel would be needed to run the CCS just to generate the same amount of electricity (no free lunch). So that pushes up to 18.6 Giga metric tonnes of CO2 to sequester from 100% CCS of global electricity production. While another 26.7 Gt gets released to the atmosphere (from transportation and industrial-mineral).

So the first problem: Where do we put 18.6Giga metric tonnes of LCO2?
From the Houston Chronicle article, “The company injects over 50 million tons of carbon dioxide into its oil and gas reservoirs per year.” That 50 million is 0.27%, or 1/370th of the global amount of sequestration needed.

The second issue: Does this 1/3 lowering of anthro emissions have enough effect on atmospheric CO2 growth rate to justify the many $Trillions spent on CCS? When the money could have gone to real infrastructure hardening and mitigation to weather and natural disaster events that always happen and will continue to happen even if emissions went to zero, or if CO2 could magically go back to 280 ppm?

My answer to first question is there are not enough safe and accessible geological storage sites to put even a few Gigametric tonnes of CO2, much less over 18 Gt.

The second question: will such a massive CCS undertaking effort have a enough impact to justify reducing the base CO2 growth rate from 2.4 (+/-0.5) ppm/yr to 1.6 (+/-0.5) ppm/yr? Especially given that FF burning would go up 40% to make it happen.
SO there’s the capital cost of the CCS equipment itself (many $trillions to refit/tear down/rebuild every F generator in the world), and then there’s the additional 40% fuel burn operating cost to run the CCS extraction and liquification.

Again, I see no way CCS is affordable or justifiable at the sufficient scale that makes any difference for CO2 atmospheric growth rate.

CCS just becomes a niche industry milking subsidies and making a few people rich at the great expense of the consumer for negligible impact on CO2 growth rate, much less the minuscule temperature impact by 2100 (if you buy the GCMs at their word).

CCS is only justifiable for the limited areas where the liquid CO2 can be easily used for EOR. Doing CCS as an end to itself for climate is not justifiable at any scale. Doing so is simply more crony capitalism motivated by a few to get rich and giving them a few “virtue points.”

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
July 31, 2019 12:28 am

CCS is only justifiable for the limited areas where the liquid CO2 can be easily used for EOR. Doing CCS as an end to itself for climate is not justifiable at any scale….”

Irrefutably correct and given ECS is most probably close to 3C, nothing more than a dangerous smokescreen.comment image

Rod Evans
July 30, 2019 1:01 pm

i have lived in the same house for 35 years. During that time the view from my lounge window, which used to look out on sheep grazing a hillside across our small valley, has been superseded by trees. These are not plantation trees but natural growth of a hillside allowed to evolve. The CO2 is playing a real part in thos transformation. The view I now enjoy is of broad leaf maturing trees, very green and very spreading.
At the present greening rate we will be overgrown long before climate warming happens, if it ever does. I now have four chain saws and am getting worried. Maybe we do need to bury some CO2 or become victims of a runaway green growth overwhelming us crisis….:)

Tim Crome
July 30, 2019 1:08 pm

Delta House!

CCS has one fundamental problem as far as I can see and that is the energy required to separate, compress and inject the CO2 is a significant portion of the energy produced from burning the coal or gas. To deliver the energy the customers need you therefore need to burn even more of the fuel, giving a significant increase in both capital and operating costs.

Equinor (formally Statoil) have been injecting CO2 for many years, which they love to talk about. This started as the gas produced had too much CO2 for the sales specification to Europe, the CO2 is separated from the gas before export rather than from exhaust gasses after combustion, an easier process.

Another issue with CCS is Henry’s Law, this should define the CO2 content of the atmosphere as a function of the temperature, rather than the other way round. Hence, for a given temperature of the ocean / atmosphere system (if such a thing exists?), if CO2 is not released to the atmosphere it will just be replaced by outgassing from the oceans.

Tim Crome
Reply to  David Middleton
July 31, 2019 1:48 am

Thanks David

Equinor, Norwegian virtue signalling at it’s best!

When CCS is linked to EOR I see the benefits, if it’s just pumped into suitable geological formations, with no benefits, then I believe it’s a complete waste of money and energy.

Wrt Henry’s Law, won’t this, over the longer term define atmospheric CO2 levels irrespective of what is burnt, stored or emitted by nature?

Bob Greene
July 30, 2019 1:19 pm

All you need to do is build power plants next to oil drilling sites we plan to use for the next 50 or so years or to pump high pressure CO2 across the country. Yeah, that makes lots of sense.

I wrote permit applications for a number of small, renewable energy, combustion power plants. We had to consider CCS in the BACT analysis for CO2. It was a slam dunk for not doing CCS, but I learned a few things:
1. No really economically successful CCS for simply pumping it into the ground.
2. Energy costs (25% or more of power) for separation and compression of CO2.
3. Expensive separation.
4. Drill your sequestration at the the power plant location? Darned expensive, additional operation.
5. Do you plan to construct your pipeline over a 1000 miles to an oil field that’s going to be there for the life of your plant or a ccs “provider.”

Without a commercial use, this effectively will price combustion generated power out of the market. Is that the intent of CCS?

Bob Greene
Reply to  David Middleton
July 31, 2019 4:24 pm

It’s a 3665 MW plant. They are using a 240 MW slipstream from a 610 MW unit. The CCS requires 39% of the power generated by the unit. And the CCS is for EOR. In other words, my point about putting power plants in oil fields. Works, means subsidies and getting paid for providing CO2 for oil drilling. And for how long?

I haven’t seen a standalone trial that worked and was close to economical. I haven’t looked in the past couple of years and maybe they have harnessed some magic.

You made my point about cost and impracticality.

July 30, 2019 1:55 pm

Delta House

…that a rapid rise of atmospheric CO₂ beyond 1,000 ppmv could yield some unpredictable changes in marine geochemistry…

The current rate of CO₂ increase is hardly what I consider “rapid”, and the results of an increase above 1,000 ppmv I see as only positive. As far as marine life, since it has been clearly proven that atmospheric CO₂ increase follows temperature increase, not leads it, then the atmospheric CO₂ increase is likely due to sinks transitioning to sources as the temperature increases, with the oceans the most likely transition, and therefore can we even predict what the oceanic CO₂ concentration will be in the future? Marine life has survived in the past, it will continue to survive. And anyway, I have seen several articles on WUWT, as well as over at Larry Kummer’s site, that indicate human produced atmospheric CO₂ is so small as to get lost in the margin of error for known natural sources and sinks, and what about unknown sources and sinks? So what we do won’t affect atmospheric CO₂ levels anyway. So yeah I’m one of those that “…deny the possibility of a problem in the comfortably distant future…”. Maybe not completely deny, but I advocate, let’s wait until we see what the problem(s) actually is(are) before we start pointlessly (cuz if government is spending it, you can almost guarantee it’s pointless, even after we know what the problem is!) spending everyone’s money! And this is as close as I will come to actually discussing the economic feasibility of anything.

…I wish government would not intervene at all, I know that they will and the best we can do is to nudge that intervention in the right direction.

Now you sound like one of those people that, as Ann Coulter describes it, are “…running around Washington D.C. looking for someone to surrender to…” (I did not go back and look up the quote, so I may have to call it paraphrased, but I’m not removing the quote marks) and I think it’s a serious mistake. Never interrupt your enemy when they’re busy destroying themselves. I think this is another place to apply that. Stick with just the first phrase of the part I quoted and keep wishing that government won’t get involved. With enough p***ed off people in the U.S. of A., we might be able to keep it that way!

Reply to  David Middleton
July 30, 2019 9:47 pm

Delta house
Your chart of the Carbon Cycle has Earth’s Crust 100,000,000 Pg down the bottom with no fluxes going to it. I assume the flux is 0.1 Pg per year to “sediments”.
Don’t you think 100,000,000 Pg is rather more important than all the other figures on the chart such as Atmosphere 750 Pg, being nearly a million times bigger?
I believe the 100,000,000 Pg is actually limestone and sediments (as other charts show). So CO2 absorbed by the oceans does not stay dissolved turning the ocean acidic, but disappears mostly into limestone.
Why do many sites such as NASA and IPCC completely ignore limestone,which contains over 99% of all carbon?

Mike Wryley
Reply to  David Middleton
July 31, 2019 8:32 pm

100,000,000 Pg not in the carbon cycle, that’s a rather glib statement for the permanent sequestration of a critical resource to life. A just where did all that CO2 come from ?
The entire CCS concept is horse crap designed to keep bureaucrats in power and some big industrial concerns on the public teat.

Reply to  David Middleton
August 4, 2019 6:26 pm

I have looked everywhere for the weights of limestone and sediments, and the majority of authorities say that it is between 50,000,000 and 100,000,000 Pg.
I suspect that there is another, more important, carbon cycle that almost everyone is ignoring, and over 99% of all near-surface carbon has gone there.

The cycle goes: Volcanic activity to the air as CO2, the sea absorbs the CO2, sea creatures use the carbon to make shells, when they die they make limestone. Then humans use a tiny amount to make cement which gives off CO2 again.
The 0.1 Pg per year of volcanic activity over the 500 million years since limestone started to form gives a value of 50,000,000 Pg.
Here are what various authorities say is the amount of Limestone & sediments in gigatonnes of carbon (=Gt C = Pg)
Sciencemag 75,000,000
Ridgewell 50,000,000
UNewHampshire 100,000,000
Climatica 75,000
IPCC 150
NASA 6,000
Unk 75,000,000

Julian Flood
Reply to  jaymam
August 5, 2019 12:48 am

When coccolythophores fix carbon into calcium carbonate, the biological process will to some extent discriminate between carbon isotopes.

Is there an isotope signal in limestone?


Julian Flood
Reply to  David Middleton
August 5, 2019 3:23 am

Thank you. I was thinking more short term signals.

What about the calcium carbonate plates shed by coccolythophores?


Julian Flood
Reply to  David Middleton
August 5, 2019 5:43 am

What about the carbon concentration mechanisms phytos use? Isotope fractionation would be likely in any biological pathway – but you have obviously seen evidence to the contrary.

To precipitate chalk there must be some concentration going on, otherwise the ocean would already be doing it in the places where we see the gigantic milky blooms of Emeliania huxleyi.


Reply to  David Middleton
July 31, 2019 7:21 am


C’mon man! You know better.

“Henry’s law dictates that the partial pressure of a gas in the atmosphere must come into equilibrium with the dissolved gas in the oceans.”

The universe and the physical world DO NOT follow our mathematical models. These laws and models were derived through empirical data and observation.

There is a lot of hubris in the construction of your above sentences. Not something I would normally associate with you. The “vectorization” of that language is backwards. We only observe. The universe and the physical world do not acquiesce to our mathematical models.

Henry’s Law is solid but it is only describing, through math, a physical process that we OBSERVED. The physical process dictated what the math had to be.

/soapbox off

Now I happen to both agree and disagree with you but because of the math but because of the political realities. Those RINO’s are doing this so they can show they are fighting climate change; that is a poor reason to do anything with taxpayer dollars; well it is a “credit” and probably an unfunded credit.

I will send my congressional representatives a link to this article.

July 30, 2019 2:27 pm

Dig a little deeper into the science and discover why CO2 does not now, has never had and never will have a significant effect on average global temperature but the rising water vapor has had. It’s available in the recently updated analysis at

Reply to  David Middleton
July 30, 2019 4:35 pm

You should be aware that estimates of CS have been declining and recent assessments are near zero. Looking at the big picture described with nine examples of compelling evidence in Section 2 of my blog/analysis, CS might even be negative.

Apparently, the increased number of absorbers at ground level is compensated for by the increased number of emitters at high altitude.

The short story of how the EMR energy absorbed by CO2 molecules is substantially redirected to water vapor molecules from where it is eventually radiated to space is at

Reply to  David Middleton
July 30, 2019 6:52 pm

And you posted it an hour before my last post. Sorry I missed it. That (the second graph) is exactly what I was thinking of and I see you had included it in your June 3 article here at WUWT.

The rest of my post stands. I have yet to see anyone else digging in to the effect of the increasing water vapor as reported by NASA/RSS. WV has been increasing about twice as fast as calculated from temperature increase alone. Willis identified the increase at but left it open as to the effect WV increase might have on average global temperature.

The reason why I think CS is zero and possibly negative results from the effect of added CO2 on absorbers vs emitters as addressed in :
“Well above the tropopause, radiation to space is primarily from CO2 molecules. If you ignore the increase in water vapor (big mistake), near the surface, WV averages about 10,000 ppmv. The increase in absorbers at ground level since 1900 is then about 10,410/10,295 = ~ 1%. WV above the tropopause is limited to about 32 ppmv because of the low temperature (~ -50 °C) while the CO2 fraction remains essentially constant with altitude at 410 ppmv; up from about 295 ppmv in 1900. The increase in emitters to space at high altitude (~> 30 km, 0.012 atm), and accounting for the lower atmospheric pressure, is (410 + 32)/(295 + 32) * 0.012 = ~ 1.4%. This easily explains why CO2 increase does not cause significant warming and might even cause cooling.”

Julian Flood
Reply to  David Middleton
August 5, 2019 1:02 am

Oceanic chemistry is also biology. For example, dissolved silica levels determine when phytoplankton take over from diatoms in the spring bloom with large effects on CO2 pull down.

If models treat oceanic chemistry as merely physical then no wonder they are wrong.


Geoff Sherrington
July 30, 2019 2:59 pm

As one from the resources sector, my first reaction to the concept of Carbon Capture and Storage, CCS, was about the enormous quantities of materials involved on a global scale. My intuition was one of far, far more CO2 being generated, than the underground space available for it to be pumped into. Not trusting intuition, I started looking for measurement and quickly found that measurements were hard to find in simple, comparable form. It was as if authors knew the CCS concept was either weak or a failure, so it needed the hard figures to be camouflaged or covered up.
A few months ago I got seriously unwell and have been unable to complete the exercise of making a clear set of the main masses and volumes involved, so I am hoping someone will pick up on this.
How much CO2 is made by man each year?
How much oil and gas are extracted each year, therefore how much volume of underground space is made available for CCS?
How much more space is available from past geologic processes?
How does space needed balance with space available?
In ball park figures, what is the additional gross cost of adding and operating a CCS facility to an existing fossil fuel electricity generator?
What is the potential cost benefit through enhanced recovery?
Without any consideration of global warming, is CCS for total global fossil fuel consumption net cash positive or negative, and by how much?
And so on. I still have the impression that some people are calling for a large new industry to be set up, when back-of-envelope shows it horribly uneconomic. The global scale is enormous and challenging.
Geoff S

Anders Valland
July 30, 2019 3:20 pm

Delta Mousse…just som you know I skummes the article. And the reason I did that was I read until you jumped from CCS to EOR. They are two very different things. And I wanted to know og you would get to the real problem which is capture and not storage.

EOR is using produced gas or water to enhance oil recovery by increasing reservoir pressure. At the end of it all you will be circulating quite a volume of the enhancer, so it is not really storage of gas. It could be, but since it is not the objective of EOR it does not follow that EOR leads to storage of gas.

The real issue is how to efficiently capture a high percentage of the CO2. Injecting it into a geologically stable formation is a well known process. But how to capture the gas efficiently is not. And that is why it is 10 years out, as it has been for quite a while.

Chris Hanley
July 30, 2019 3:52 pm

“The political reality is that tighter carbon regulations and/or taxes are very likely in the not to distant future. CCS and CCSU are the least economically harmful path forward”.
That is a miserable outlook, I am aware that David Middleton is a geologist with a background in the fossil fuel industry and good for him in that.
What is missing from this article is a declaration of interest in some aspect of CCS technology, one way or another.

Chris Hanley
Reply to  David Middleton
July 30, 2019 5:22 pm


john link
July 30, 2019 4:52 pm

Yeah…that’s it…humans should somehow to try to regulate, control and limit an atmospheric gas that IS ESSENTIAL TO ALL LIFE.

And, of course, if the concentrations dip too low, we will all know in advance before the 150ppm level is reached, and just dial up the carbo-stat to correct it overnight.

I mean: what could go wrong????

July 30, 2019 4:59 pm

Another fantasy sink of public funds by and to the green blob. You can capture and sequester all the atmospheric CO2 you want. But it won’t make a dent in how much CO2 resides in the atmosphere – because, as has now been proven by real scientists, nature will just replace it.

john link
Reply to  David Middleton
July 30, 2019 7:06 pm

So…c’mon…show us this “simple mass balance” and all the factors that go into it.

Maybe you can publish it in the “Journal of Irreproducible Results”.

How the EFF have we strayed so far from the scientific method that we allow people to make airy and unsupported assertions—and then not only pass them off as “experimental results”, but “proof”???

Reply to  David Middleton
August 2, 2019 10:09 pm

That is so stupid.

Julian Flood
Reply to  Bartemis
August 3, 2019 12:04 am

Some time ago I spent ages trying to work out the logic behind the mass balance claim. IIRC one can ‘prove’ that the CO2 increase is caused by anything unknown.


Steve Z
July 30, 2019 5:12 pm

While CO2 injection into oil wells is useful from the point of view of increased oil recovery, “sequestration” of CO2 is a lose-lose situation.

As the article mentions, sequestered CO2 must be “supercritical”. The critical point of carbon dioxide is about 88 F and 1070 psia, meaning that CO2 cannot be liquefied at temperatures above 88 F. Carbon dioxide buried in the ground can be subject to heating from below, and a liquid just below the critical point can expand explosively if heated above the critical point. Above the critical pressure and temperature, this expansion risk is minimized.

However, in the average power plant, CO2 is generated at relatively low pressure from the exhaust from a gas turbine or coal-fired boiler. In order to sequester CO2, it must then be separated from the rest of the flue gas (mostly nitrogen and water vapor), then compressed up to 1100 psia or higher. Depending on the fuel used for the power plant, the energy consumed by CO2 compression can be 25 to 30% of the net power produced. This means that for a given net power output, a power plant using CCS will consume 33 to 43% more fossil fuel than a power plant where the CO2 is emitted to the atmosphere. If CCS were generalized over the entire world, the fossil fuel supply would be depleted much faster than if the CO2 were emitted to the atmosphere.

Joel O’Bryan’s post above estimated the CO2 increase rate as 1.89 ppm in 2017 and 2.85 ppm in 2018. Averaging the two would put the CO2 increase rate at about 2.37 ppm per year.

From sea-level atmospheric pressure and the radius of the earth, the total mass of the atmosphere can be estimated as 5.2(10^18) kg. Assuming an average molecular mass of 29, this would be about 1.8(10^17)kgmol. The amount of CO2 required to increase the concentration by 1 ppm would be 1.8(10^11) kgmol * 44 kg/kmol = 7.9(10^12) kg = 7.9 Gt.

If man-made emissions of CO2 are 36.7 Gt/year (per Joel O’Bryan’s post), if all the emitted CO2 remained in the atmosphere, the concentration would rise by 36.7 / 7.9 = 4.6 ppm/yr. If the actual concentration is rising at the rate of 2.37 ppm/yr, about 49% of the anthropogenic CO2 emissions are removed from the atmosphere by natural processes (photosynthesis, dissolution in oceans, transformation to carbonates by shellfish, etc.).

Many experiments have shown that plant growth rates increase when the CO2 concentration in the air increases, which is why greenhouse owners inject CO2 into the air to speed up plant growth rates. If the photosynthetic rate (and CO2 removal rate) is linearly proportional to CO2 concentration, and half of man-made emissions are removed at the current concentration of roughly 400 ppm, the CO2 removal rate should catch up to the emission rate at about double the current concentration, and reach an equilibrium at about 800 ppm CO2, with crop yields and food production at about double the current values, as well as rapid growth of forests.

Depending on whose value of “sensitivity” is credible, the climate may be 1 degree C warmer, but why should we fear such a situation with double the current food production, and the possibility of getting food from northern areas with short growing seasons if crops grow fast enough to be harvested before the first frost?

Michael S. Kelly LS, BSA Ret.
July 30, 2019 6:34 pm

“…S. 1535, the Furthering carbon capture, Utilization, Technology, Underground storage, and Reduced Emissions Act (FUTURE Act), was included in Senate Finance Committee Chairperson Orrin Hatch’s (R-UT) larger tax extenders bill, S. 2256, before finally gaining inclusion in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.”

Whereas the Future Advanced Recovery Technology (FART) Act just didn’t pass the smell test, and was waived aside quickly…

Will these acronyms never end?

Michael S. Kelly LS, BSA Ret.
Reply to  David Middleton
July 31, 2019 8:46 am

I guess not, but thank you, Mr. Middleton, for always defining yours in advance. It’s very helpful.

Michael S. Kelly LS, BSA Ret.
Reply to  David Middleton
August 1, 2019 4:52 pm

You are way better than most.

Anna Keppa
July 30, 2019 6:44 pm

That *proves* nothing. A simple mass balance calculation proves beyond any doubt that humans are responsible for anywhere from half of to two times the rise over the past 150 years. Uncertainty about the natural carbon cycle just alters the variables, not the equation.


Oh yeah? Where’s that Proof?

And please point us to the experiment that can falsify it.

You know….the scientific method and all that.

Dare you.

Reply to  David Middleton
August 2, 2019 10:11 pm

No, they don’t.

July 30, 2019 6:45 pm

Tom HALLA, July 30 the,. says it all.

By all means use it to recover more oil, but why bury a perfectly good and useful gas.

As for what may happen if it reaches 1000 ppm well try it out.
If market gardeners use CO2 to grow bigger, and hopefully better crops, then what happens at 1000 ppm in these greenhouses ?


July 30, 2019 8:07 pm

CCS is a mad fantasy.

Anna Keppa
July 30, 2019 8:30 pm

That is not a PROOF of anything.

It is an OBSERVATION, and not even an EXPERIMENT.

Report back when you can set up an experiment that can be falsified.

July 30, 2019 8:56 pm

Hello David ,
Delta House .
I know that this is off topic but I respect your knowledge and would like you to reply if that is not to much to ask.
How hard is it and at what cost can fugitive methane emissions from oil and gas operations be captured and used .
I understand that offshore platforms have a problem flaring because of the danger aspect .
In your opinion can significant amounts of methane ( natural gas ) be economically utilized or are fugitive
emissions inevitable in oil and gas extraction .
I am asking this because our government here in New Zealand is trying to be the first in the world to tax methane emissions from farmed livestock .
When I look at the worldwide methane emissions energy and farmed live stock are about equal but the energy emissions are mostly fugitive produced during extraction of oil gas and coal.
With a very small reduction in methane emissions the levels would stabilize and slowly drop.
The livestock emissions are cyclic and after a few years the same molecules are recounted .
Thank you David

Julian Flood
July 31, 2019 12:12 am

I’m interested in the chemistry involved when a coccolithophore fixes calcium carbonate from seawater. I’m thinking of the big blooms of e.g. Emeliania huxleyi which can be seen from orbit.

What precisely is going on?



Charles Boritz
July 31, 2019 7:07 am

In the EPA’s discussion on the technical feasibility of carbon capture and storage (CCS), the storage segment relies on existing data from several small scale projects and from the Permian basin injection for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Part of this information boasts the injection of 93 million metric tons of CO2 from 1972 to 2005 in the Permian basin, which equates to approximately 3.1 million short tons injected per year. It is also stated that 38 million metric tons of CO2 were re-emitted from the same project, meaning that only 1.8 million short tons per year of the injected CO2 was sequestered. This translates to 60% retention as compared to the 100% retention assumed by the EPA in establishing the 40% partial CCS requirement.

Charles Boritz
July 31, 2019 7:10 am

Delta House…

I did forget to put it in my previous post.

Bob Weber
July 31, 2019 8:58 am

I read the whole post. CCS is virtue signaling from our side.

Carbon dioxide is only detrimental in alarmists’ imaginations, so CCS is a waste of money other than for furthering the false climate narrative by promoting an expensive reactionary boondoogle.

CO2 increases have always followed temperature changes, so human emissions don’t matter anyhow.

If CO2 reaches a doubled or higher level it will have happened primarily from natural warming, not emissions, as it always did in the ancient past.

Everyone’s use of ECS etc is inverted, as it correctly is ppm/degree, since CO2 is a response to T.

Atmospheric CO2 is controlled by changes in ocean sea surface temperature and sea level pressure, via Henry’s Law of Solubility of Gases, where the influence from human emissions cannot even be discerned.

CCS is wastefully appeasing and aiding and abetting a wrong climate theory – please give it up. CO2 is so diffuse in the atmosphere no amount of installations will make a significant difference, so why bother?

Bob Weber
Reply to  David Middleton
July 31, 2019 10:59 am

Very impressive David, and fast. If what I said is right it wouldn’t matter who disagreed, or why.

If human emissions dominate natural ocean outgassing as you suggest there would so little correlation between SST and CO2 changes that I wouldn’t have noticed nor made mention of the obvious overwhelmingly dominance SST change has on CO2.

The description of Henry’s Law is for a constant temperature. Henry’s Law in action means the changes in pressure are related to changes in temperature, via the ideal gas law, which changes the solubility of the gas, here CO2. The fact is the evidence shows CO2 changes follow and mimic ocean temperature changes just about perfectly reversibly, a predictable outcome of Henry’s Law, with no indication of human emissions.

It’s presumptuous of us to assume CO2 is as well resolved pre-1800’s, and to ignore the obvious message in the pre-1800 Law Dome-Moberg comparison, that temperature change precedes CO2 change.

Bob Weber
Reply to  David Middleton
August 1, 2019 7:47 am

The DE08 core that goes back to about 1800, has a 20-yr resolution. The DSS core that goes back about 2,000 years has a 30-yr resolution. At either resolution, a CO2 signal comparable to Mauna Loa would be well-resolved.

Well-resolved? 20-30 year resolution for CO2 misses the well-captured action from monthly data. Splicing Law Dome and Mauna Loa data requires a reduction in resolution from 736 data points to 2 or 3 points for all of the Mauna Loa data. No one can infer mechanisms from data that sparse.

William Henry’s original 1803 paper described the temperature dependence of absorbed carbonic acid gas as originally discovered by another great Royal Society member, Henry Cavendish. Henry confirmed the temperature relationship in discovering the partial pressure aspect.

We can gloss over partial and whole atmospheric pressure and concentrate on the known temperature dependence for dissolved CO2 in water. Here we see CO2 solubility in water changes significantly by more than 2X in the normal 0-30C ocean temperature range.

This mechanism defines how atmospheric CO2 is controlled by sea surface temperature.

Mauna Loa correlates very well with HadSST3, above .995 significance over 60 years.

This all shows we should understand mechanisms from recent high-resolution data, not from sparse smoothed data from the ancient past. Clearly the science isn’t settled.

Bob Weber
Reply to  David Middleton
August 1, 2019 9:12 am

Mauna Loa correlates very well with HadSST3 – missing link here:

comment image

“det” = detrended

Reply to  David Middleton
August 2, 2019 10:15 pm

“It doesn’t correlate nearly well before CO2 started to significantly rise after 1950.”

We do not have reliable measurements of CO2 prior to 1958.

Reply to  David Middleton
July 31, 2019 3:03 pm

Delta House Delta House (I forgot it on another Comment, so if I repeat it now, do I get a pass?)

If “everyone’s use of ECS etc is inverted,” why are Roy Spencer and John Christy attempting to fine tune it?

You answer the question yourself. Or, the copied press release answers the question:

Dr. Christy says the sensitivity value is important because the amount generated by models has been used in taxation policy regarding carbon-based energy like gasoline, coal and natural gas, since burning them produces CO2.

Short answer, they’re (both ECS and TCs) important for political reasons only. So it doesn’t really negate Bob Weber’s contention that:

…Atmospheric CO2 is controlled by changes in ocean sea surface temperature and sea level pressure, via Henry’s Law of Solubility of Gases, where the influence from human emissions cannot even be discerned….”

I may like Bob Weber’s comment because he tends to agree with me, that’s always good. 🙂 I’m not entirely sure I follow your logic, that at least 1/3 of the atmospheric CO₂ increase must be due to anthropogenic emissions. You stated mass balance, but then as proof or justification, you relied heavily on Law Dome temperature reconstructions, and I’m just… I would feel better about the Law Dome data if it were calibrated against something, another proxy perhaps. It doesn’t really calibrate with our temperature record because the temperature record is too short, too incomplete (large areas of the Earth’s surface have no data), and too manipulated. Doesn’t it take some amount of time for the air within a blanket of snow to convert to an air bubble trapped in ice? So that the Law Dome data essentially ends before the temperature record even begins. Maybe I’m just not up with it and multiple papers exist showing Law Dome corresponds well with some other proxy, but I just haven’t seen it. Have you? And there are atmospheric CO₂ measurements that significantly disagree with the “settled science” CO₂ levels. So I don’t take that as a slam dunk, either. My point being, I’m not really convinced the current rate of atmospheric CO₂ increase is in any way unique.

So let me restate my policy prescription: Nothing is happening that hasn’t already happened in the past, neither levels of temperature and atmospheric CO₂ nor rate of change of same. And even if I’m wrong, what’s happening is slow-moving, we will be much better off if we save our money now, so we have some money left to respond if or when something actually happens!

Bob Weber
Reply to  David Middleton
August 1, 2019 8:52 am

The Finsinger/Wagner-Cremer plot is disingenuous, as the purple Law Dome curve is obviously the smoothed mean pre-1800’s, whereas the latter period hockey-sticks upwards following the peak, not the mean. This is comparing today’s peaks with yesteryear’s mean – apples to oranges.

Bob’s view was exactly bass-ackwards.

You would be right only if Spencer/Braswell truly managed to reverse causality, but they didn’t, and they and you are wrong, as the CO2 produced via sea surface temperature changes follow T by 9-10 months, and there’s no getting around that by anyone.

ECS and TCR are backwards in practice and their true scientifically useful ratios are in units of ppm/C, not C/ppm as everyone is doing now.

True ECS is nonsense, since the only time CO2 remains constant is when there is no SST change, which never happens, so there is no equilibrium.

True TCR is the transient response of CO2 to SST, in ppm/C or ppmv/C, and is basically already established by the CO2 solubility in water curve.

One wonders how long it will be before the bigshots realize they have it bass-ackwards.

Beta Blocker
July 31, 2019 9:12 am

Net Zero Natural Gas Plant — The Game Changer

“An actual game changing technology is being demonstrated as we speak by Net Power. The Allam cycle involves burning gas with oxygen instead of air to generate electricity without emitting any CO2 or NOx. It also produces pipeline-ready CO2 and even water. At a cost below any other energy source.”

Even if the Allam cycle plant itself does what it is intended to do, the question still remains, where do you put all the CO2 that can’t be used for industrial purposes if underground sequestration methods don’t work out?

July 31, 2019 9:15 am

We remove the CO2 from combusted fossil fuel exhaust and transform that CO2 into good paying full time jobs and money.

Geoff Sherrington
July 31, 2019 4:44 pm

From time to time over the years I have had brief email exchanges with Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit about Law Dome data. I am Australian. Several key researchers of Law Dome were also Aust. The raw data is stored in Hobart and I am in Melbourne, unable to travel from health problems. The data gatekeepers in Hobart went out of their way to make it impossible for me to see the raw data.
In the early days Steve was blocked from seeing all of the Law Dome data. The suspicion was that some of the isotope data told a story that IPCC etc did not wish the public to see.
Is there anyone here who is familiar with Law able to comment on whether there is still potentially valuable data not available to all who might wish to view it? Geoff S

Johann Wundersamer
July 31, 2019 6:37 pm

Milton Friedman rocks!!! Well… rocked when he was alive.

Keeps rocking as long as he’s remembered.

Julian Flood
August 3, 2019 12:36 am

Let me try again. (see 31 July)

When a coccolythophore precipitates chalk, presumably by using dissolved Ca and bicarbonate, what is the precise equation. And as it is a biological process, does it favour the light carbon isotope?


August 9, 2019 9:41 am

Yeah- but what happens when there is an earthquake, and it gets shaken up?

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