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Capsule Review

Carbon Capture

In This Review

Carbon Capture
Carbon Capture
By Howard J. Herzog
MIT Press, 2018, 216 pp. Purchase

If humans are to seriously mitigate climate change, they will have to use a lot less coal, oil, and natural gas—or find ways to capture and store the carbon dioxide that fossil fuels give off when they burn. This useful little book explains in simple terms the various methods of capturing and then storing the carbon dioxide emitted by power plants and factories and how much doing so is likely to cost. Herzog also discusses various possible ways to suck carbon dioxide directly out of the atmosphere, since what’s already up there is the leading cause of global warming. Right now, the main options for capturing and storing carbon dioxide are not cheap, but the price might well prove bearable; capture and storage would raise the cost of producing electricity in a modern coal-fired power plant by 43 percent. (Herzog calculates that that would mean the typical American consumer would pay about 25 percent more to run his or her appliances.) Herzog also describes various programs that already capture and store carbon dioxide and the strengths and deficiencies of their different approaches. Given how much coal, oil, and gas the world uses, it is surprising that countries have not already put more time and money into such technologies.

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