Some people are absolutely convinced that there are still ways in which we can fight global warming, even assuming the world is going to continue to burn fossil fuels to generate power and drive transport. Quite reasonably, this school of thought is based on the premise that it would be rash to throw away the infrastructure that provides the earth’s inhabitants with the warmth, transport and luxury they want. The aim of this group, who we refer to as the Afterburners, is to tackle the problem of what happens after fossil fuel is burnt. There are two ways to approach the problem: coerce nature to absorb C02 naturally, or capture C02 at source and store it in some way.
These are actually two radically different approaches. If nature can be coerced to absorb C02, this gives us all the leeway we need to carry on as we are. The other alternative would have applications limited strictly to fixed places where C02 is produced in quantities, such as power stations, and where expensive technology could be put into place that would somehow capture emissions at the smoke stack and pump them back into the ground.
The underlying element in all of this is carbon. Carbon enters the global warming food chain as a fossil fuel (i.e. a hydrocarbon), which is