Capitalism and Technology: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

I have, for several years, been at pains to point out what, to me, is pretty obvious: 1) capitalism excels all economic and public governance systems in bringing technology to humanity, while technology brings along both public goods and at times, public bads and 2) if there is too much CO2 in our atmosphere causing global warming, let’s take CO2 out of the air.

There is a technology, which I have noted, that was recently written up on the front page of the Wall Street Journal’s business and finance section – a hybrid material of cement made with carbon which can reduce the carbon footprint of cement making and store carbon out of the atmosphere.

President Biden’s 2022 legislation provides tax credits for carbon capture, using taxpayer money to reduce a public bad and so create a public good.

To make “green” concrete, CO2 is sprayed inside the mixing drums on concrete trucks.  There it reacts with calcium ions in the cement to form calcium carbonate, a mineral embedded in the construction material.  The calcium carbonate reduces the amount of cement that is needed in the construction project, cutting the amount of cement produced and so cutting carbon emissions.  Secondly, the CO2 sprayed in the mixing drums is sequestered away from our atmosphere.

This chart projects how much CO2 could be captured by industry sector: