Wednesday, April 18, 2012

CO2 removal; seems less possible

Many of our conservation problems are problems of scale.  It really doesn't matter much if one person, say, eats a lot of meat, but when millions of people do, it creates an impact from raising the animals to feed them.  Similarly, while it seems like a great idea to 'remove' CO2 from the air with yet to be properly invented 'scrubbers', scaling up to remove sufficient CO2 to make a difference is less likely to be successful.  According to an article I just read in 7 April 2012 edition of The New Scientist (and I quote liberally...), two British scientists (Colin Axon and Alex Lubansky) did some back of the envelope calculations to estimate what it would take using existing technology to remove 30 gigatonnes of CO2 (what we now produce annually) from the air.  Filtration alone would require 180 Gt of clean water, 100 Gt of a mineral called olivine (which is more than  12,500 times what is produced annually!).  The olivine would have to be spread 1 cm thick over 3.6 billion square km of dry land (1000 times as much as is available on Earth!).  And the clincher, the industry that would have to be created is 1000 times larger than any existing industry.

Still think CO2 scrubbing is better than eliminating CO2 production? 

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