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on March 4, 2012
I just inhaled your book this morning. I want to thank you for putting this out there. I am an architect and work towards energy efficiency in buildings, but have been yearning to know more about the big picture of solving climate change. This book was clearly laid out many ideas that I had not previously been aware of or had not yet been able to conceptually grasp. Your writing style was well suited to my non-scientific background.
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on March 3, 2012
A year ago I read an article about ocean acidity increasing by 30% in recent years, a leading suspect in the death of coral reefs, due to the ocean absorbing more carbon dioxide from the air. That was the first time I understood that for the health of the planet, including the delicate ocean ecosystem, it is not enough to curb carbon dioxide emissions. We have to actually reverse course, and find a way to remove the excess carbon dioxide already in the air. I started reading about carbon dioxide removal techonologies, and the daunting task of implementing it on a global scale. Are those developing this technology pursuing a ridiculously far fetched fantasy, or are they pioneers in the best solution we have available?

"Suck It Up" is an excellent introduction to what is at stake, the history behind this approach, and the people and companies who are leading the way in the early development of carbon capture technology. It also gives fair voice to skeptics who doubt the technology is a viable solution,and discusses other potential solutions such as algae fuel facilities. I applaud Mark Guntner for furthering this dicussion with "Suck It UP", and strongly recommend it.
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on March 9, 2012
This book enlightened me to a entirely new possible reality associated to climate change... that we continue as usual and turn the waste into a commodity... genius and scary at the same time.

A must quick read for anyone interested in the issue of climate change and its implications.
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on March 6, 2012
The author discusses the sorry state of climate change mitigation measures and several other geoengineering proposals. Then he describes some of the startup companies active in the field of capturing CO2 from the air.

That is not difficult to do. For example, this kind of technology has been deployed for decades on submarines to deal with the CO2 exhaled by crew members.

The only trick is to do it cheap enough, and to scale it up to the necessary levels.

By chance, I just had read an article by Umair Irfan in Scientific American (2011), which is rather critical of these concepts ("too expensive to be practical").

I learned a couple of things worth noting from Gunther's book.

For starters, the various ideas of shading the earth are actually extremely cheap in comparison with reducing CO2 emissions. Good to know. It may become necessary to fall back on this kind of scheme if CO2 emission reduction efforts keep failing.

Also, CO2 is sold on the market at prices of up to $200 a ton. The largest market for that is enhanced oil recovery, where the CO2 is used to squeeze out oil from the ground. Not exactly helpful from a climate perspective, but the oil recovered in this way is actually less dirty than conventional oil, since the CO2 used in the process remains in the ground. There are more than 100 enhanced oil recovery projects, which pay between $20 and $40 per ton for CO2.

The whole sector is still tiny. Some of the startups involved have built first demonstration plants. One of the main problems (also discussed in the Scientific American article cited above) is energy cost. It obviously doesn't make sense from a climate point of view to put more CO2 in the atmosphere to generate the energy necessary than is removed in the sucking process.

But those problems disappear once basically unlimited renewable energy from the deserts is available in a century or two. We might see some serious CO2 sucking already fifty years from now.

Anybody interested in getting a look at the present state of this nascent industry is well advised to read this book. I enjoyed doing so and learned a lot.
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on March 6, 2012
Before I commit to a purchase of anything on Amazon, I read the publishers notes, sample the customer reviews and order a sample. The only reason this offering made the cut was that the sample was miniscule--woefully small. I should have known.

This--global warming and proposed solutions--has been an interest of mine for some time. I have looked into it enough to tell you that VIRTUALLY ALL THIS AUTHOR COVERED COULD HAVE BEEN DISCOVERED IN ONE (maybe two) internet searches. This is a survey book, and not a very good one. First, I have a question? This is a really short work. Is it a Kindle Single? It's called a Kindle e-book. Whichever, it means that Amazon's editorial standards are below sub-par and caveat emptor!

Specific Criticisms:

1. The book was obviously a "once-over-lightly" survey of readily available literature. The author dropped a lot of names, and I imagine his telephone bill would reflect some effort at reaching these people, but the material he got from them was already public domain. There was no evidence of hard-core digging. No names from struggling projects that had attracted no public attention or adequate funding. It was a simple survey of a couple internet searches.

2. It wasn't very well organized. It summoned up a cause in the last thousand words, but the support was at best, tepid. There was really no story here. The author read off a list of people and companies, talked about what they were doing, and moved on. He offered some judgements (mostly of others) about the viability of their projects. He did get into one second level problem; the idea that engineered solutions to temperature change could allow politicians to ignore the more permanent and serious problem of Co2 saturation in the atmosphere and acidification of the oceans, but again, there was no passion.

3. It was perfectly unedited. In his acknowledgements he thanks a group of named people for helping with the manuscript while graciously taking the blame for remaining errors. Marc, this work is loaded with errors. No one read or reviewed it--even you! Too many of the mistakes are glaring choices of the wrong connecting word, the extra word added that just doesn't fit in the sentence, the obvious word missing that the author thought but failed to type. The errors made were those of an experienced author ON A FIRST DRAFT. As such, they are inexcuseable. The further you get into the manuscript, the more there are. It is equally inexcuseable of AMAZON in its role as publisher, to pass on such scribbling as finished product and charge for it.

In short, it is my firm belief that the author had a couple of empty days (he is a long-standing, professional author) and passed off this terrible offering to us for a few bucks! Get it yourself off the internet. There they will have charts, graphs and pictures. NOT RECOMMENDED!
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on March 4, 2012
Interesting coverage of dreams of breakthroughs leading to giga-scale chemical capture and liquifacation of CO2. but almost no mention of biochar, which is immediately possible. Dispersal of the char throughout soil gives reliable permanent storage of the captured carbon. Truck-sized mobile char units powered with process byproducts could capture half the carbon in lawn waste, crop residue, weeds, and other matter which otherwise rots, releasing most all of the carbon. The author should issue a revised edition including detailed analysis of these grass-roots possibilities.
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on March 7, 2012
In his superb book, Suck It Up: How capturing carbon from the air can help solve the climate crisis, Marc Gunther stitches together a straightforward yet elegantly crafted story on the innovations and promising technologies that can be used to capture carbon dioxide from the air. Rarely have a subject and a writer been so appropriately matched. Suck It Up takes the reader deep behind the scenes on an entertaining journey to understand the science, research, and economics of geoengineering.

Gunther is a gifted writer, an amusing public speaker, and long-time contributing editor at FORTUNE. His writing is often singled out for its clarity, and his choice of subject matter is almost always visionary. Suck It Up maintains that high bar. Gunther begins by providing the reader some assurances: "This book may depress some people. It shouldn't. To the contrary, I'd like to stimulate a conversation about new ways to think about global warming, the most daunting problem facing humanity," he writes.

Gunther states the obvious so that the reader is aware of the elephant in the room and can move on: "...geoengineering is controversial and scary and maybe even a little nuts. (Or a lot nuts...)" But he also makes a steady progression of thought-provoking points about who's backing the major research (Bill Gates) and why this is important. Gunther's writing expresses clear thinking on an important topic and is bound to achieve its goal: to stimulate the conversation on how to deal with the threat of climate change.
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on March 28, 2012
The idea of tinkering with the climate, to fix the damage we've already done (and continue to do), is a bitter pill for a climate hawk to swallow. If any other journalist had tackled the topic, I likely wouldn't have read it. As it was written by Marc Gunther, a voice I greatly trust, I held my nose and gave it a chance.
The book is a crisp review of the carbon capture technologies that are being piloted and their champions. Being a Kindle Single it's a fairly short read. Therefore, I won't go too far into the details, but I will say that Marc deserves credit for pointing out the dangers and difficulties involved with the differing options. I also give him credit for summarily dismissing a non-carbon capture climate control option which seems an obvious Pandora's Box.
The book is short, but it carries enough detail to help you think through the potential for these technologies, as well as whether or not you think they should be pursued. On top of that, there's the price. What else can you get for two bucks these days? Give it a look. You're sure to learn something about a technology whose time may have arrived.
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on March 18, 2012
What I liked about Gunther's book is that it goes beyond the technical debate to the more nuanced concerns, which ultimately may carry the day: "Who actually controls the global thermostat?" "What if Russia and Canada decide its fine to let the earth get a bit warmer, but India wants it cooler?" and since there's no global agency requiring an environmental impact assessment, "how should humans judge how much climate control they may try?"

As with many other environmental issues, the debate is more likely to turn on these policy/culture/behavioral questions than on the science itself.

Thanks for raising them.
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on March 5, 2012
This Amazon Kindle Single is a great, quick read (read in beginning to end in one commute to work) on a complex, but often under reported topic. Geo-engineering is a troubling subject from a Earth-stewardship point-of-view as it raises a number of 'philosophical' questions about potentially doing more damage than before or deciding who's in charge of the Earth's thermometer. The ebook cuts through this by focusing on the technologies, stakeholders, players, and companies actively engaged in the space. It provides a good sense of what type of technological approaches are under research and how their potential impacts. For readers looking for an excellent introduction to this subject - especially to point further inquiries and questions in the right direction - this is a great place to start.
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