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Comment Re:IODP Drilling sponsored by BP, Big Oil et. al (Score 1) 335

How is it these guys can be drilling again?

So IODP expedition 308 took place in 2005, some time before the GoM spill. Did you even read the site you linked?

And "these guys" are an NSF funded research organization, not an oil company.

I sailed on IODP expedition 308 (and 304, the expedition the article actually refers to) and one of the objectives was to learn how to safely drill in overpressurized environments safely. And the best place to do this is somewhere where you have ample geophysical data relating to sediment formations to identify and avoid potentially dangerous gas and oil bearing sediment. It turns out the organizations that have that geophysical data is the oil companies. If the USGS or DOE or PETA had that information, they would have collaborated with them, but they don't so we didn't. The sites drilled during EXP 308 were specifically chosen to avoid such dangerous places. Every sample that was brought aboard was measured for higher order hydrocarbons which are indicative of thermogenic gas and oil. Once those values reach a certain (very conservative) threshold drilling stops, and the hole is filled with heavy mud. However I don't believe we ever came close to that threshold.

The point being that researcher-industry collaborations are not inherently bad because industry is involved. I thought it was a good thing that industry was be interested in making drilling in the GoM safer.

Comment Re:Living under surface (Score 2, Informative) 335

Those are both continental crust, which a different animal. You would never actually hit either basalt or gabbro in continental crust, because continental crust is chemically different than oceanic crust. Also one of the goals of IODP expedition 304* and 305 was to drill through the oceanic Moho, the seismic reflection that defines where crust stops and where mantle begins. At the Atlantic Massif, this is pretty close to the surface due to its location adjacent to the Mid-Atlantic spreading center, and was thought to exist at depths less than 1 km. On continental crust the Moho is much deeper, normally 60-80 km deep. Drilling 1 km in the ocean is easier than drilling 60 on land. *Disclaimer, I sailed 304.

Comment Geoengineering (Score 1) 355

Others have pointed out that geoengineering is not new, and they are right. We started geoengineering on a global scale when we started removing vast quantities of carbon that had been sequestered in the earth, oxidizing it, and releasing it into the atmosphere.

And the energy community is already geoengineering how to get this released carbon back into the ground through carbon sequestration techniques. They are pumping carbon dioxide into oil bearing formations to increase well production. They are creating zero emission oil platforms that burn natural gas for energy, capture the CO2, and pump it back into the ground.

There are other, more complex, less studied ways to sequester carbon, such as seeding small parts of the ocean with iron, which will increase plankton production, which will draw down CO2 as they incorporate the carbon into their shells, which will sink and become part of the seafloor, effectively sequestering the carbon. Or by simply pumping liquid CO2 into places where it can't escape (basalt formations, subseafloor sediments, etc).

TFA states that pumping particulates into the atmosphere is a rather extreme solution, but sadly many other active sequestration techniques were not discussed. There are a lot of other, much more benign, better studied methods of geoengineering, it is a shame the article only discussed two relatively unstudied methods.

As another commentor noted, this stuff is confusing. And particulate pollutants are not the same type of pollutants that cause the greenhouse effect. Particulate pollutants are the reason why we see a decrease in global temperatures after a major volcanic eruption, the simply reflect sunlight back into space. But these pollutants are heavy and do not last long in our atmosphere. Greenhouse gases however can have a much longer residence time in the atmosphere, and operate on an entirely different principle than particulate pollutants.

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