by Dr David Laing Dawson
Last year we humans and our livestock pumped 38 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air we breathe. The earth’s ecosystems managed to reabsorb half of that. That leaves a net increase of 19 billion tons.
It would take a better mathematician than myself to calculate how much carbon we need to take out of the atmosphere each year to achieve some kind of fluctuating net neutrality. We would also have to know just how much carbon dioxide our earth will continue to absorb, and how much that is determined by saturation, ocean temperature etc.
But let’s say we humans need to remove, say, 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year from the atmosphere, while we try to reduce emissions, in order to staunch global warming.
Is it possible to do this?
If one gizmo can capture a billion tons in a year we would need only ten of them.
If one gizmo could capture 1 thousand tons we would need 10 million of them.
In the last couple of decades we have built, world wide, between 6 and 12 million cell towers (depending on the definition of a cell tower), and a hundred times that in substations.
For carbon capture there is “source capture” (power stations, oil fields etc) and general air capture. Then we have the problem of transportation and storage or transformation into a usable product.
Currently there are hundreds of experimental trials and actual implementations going on, plus grants and tax credits, in numerous parts of the world.
And if there were no urgency to the problem we could let this wind its complex course to fruition and see what happens, that course fashioned of course by economics and politics. and a little bit of science.
But parts of the world are rapidly becoming uninhabitable, especially for the poor.
In better times we might have expected America to take the lead, to pull together scientists, engineers, politicians and economists, create a Manhattan project for carbon capture, and then take this to the United Nations.
Our grand intention to reduce emissions by switching to alternative sources of energy world wide is pie in the sky.
It is time for someone, some country to take the lead. Justin? Canada?