As the CO2 in the atmosphere continues to climb, already at a dangerous level, and the argument about doing something about it seems to have only just begun in the power circles, I fear that actively removing it is rapidly becoming an imperative.
But is this doable?
I don’t know…I sure hope so. And not just for climate change, but also for ocean acidification. Removing CO2 directly from the atmosphere is really a form of geoengineering and part of a principal that I find extremely worrisome. I would have counted myself deadset against geoengineering of any sort before reading an essay posted here, but written by H.E.Taylor. I guess the boiled-down message there is like it or not, we are already deeply involved in the geoengineering business.
So, coming from that and being an optimist, I read the following with a little hope for what may be possible afterall.
A breaking study indicates that 4 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year could be locked up in rock formations that cover half of Oman–finally putting a dent in global greenhouse gases. And the same principle could be transferred to rock formations in shallow seas.
The article is about work by Columbia University geologist Peter Kelemen who has been studying peridotite:
a highly-reactive rock that covers about half the landscape of Oman, and appears at scattered locations worldwide. The rock naturally reacts with carbon dioxide (CO2), removing it from the air to form limestone and other carbonates.
So after capturing CO2 at sources like coal-fired power plants, rather than pump it into big pools underground and praying it does not ever escape somehow, we could turn it into rock! Of course this is a natural part of the carbon cycle, but what Kelemen is claiming is a way to accelerate this process 100,000 fold. This is a big number but necessarily so considering the time scale of natural conversion of CO2 into things like limestone.
Go have a read for yourself and maybe allow me a few minutes of optimism before using the comments to draw out the myriad devils that must surely be lurking somewhere in those missing details!