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Re-engineering Earth to Fight Global Warming

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posted on Jul, 18 2005 @ 04:25 PM
In 2001, white house officials from the President's Climate Change Technology Program called a couple dozen scientists in to think of ways to fight global warming. This meeting came in response to George Bush pulling out of the Kyoto Treaty a few months earlier. Since reducing emissions to the standards of the Kyoto Treaty was out of the question, the scientists decided to devise ways to "re-engineer Earth" in a sense by building things such as giant fields of filters, or machines that would pump CO2 into underground saline aquifiers or subterrnaean caves. The goal in mind for each one of these ideas is to store and remove CO2 from the atmosphere to cool the earth. In this article by Popular Science, 6 different methods of removing the CO2 are discussed as well as the benefits and risks, and one device has already been built.

1.) The first method involves storing CO2 underground. 5,000 tons of liquid CO2 is pumped 4,000 feet underground every day, and in addition to being stored, the CO2 is used to drive oil out of rock. The CO2 is injected with water into a subterranean cavern deep beneath the Earth. By 2033, this project will end up storing 25 million tons of CO2, which is akin to taking 6.8 million cars off the road. There's another idea to trap CO2 into saline aquifiers which can store 200,000 Gigatons of CO2 which would last us awhile considering that humans produce 28 Gigatons per year. The pressurized CO2 should be kept indefinately, but there is worry that engineers could accidentally depressurize the supercritical CO2. It could also leak into fissures into basments and silently kill many people.

2.) Another idea is building a field of giant filters 200 feet high that act like flypaper to trap CO2. Sodium hydroxide and calcium Hydroxide are pumped through the filters and bond to the CO2. Although a single filter could bond 90,000 tons of CO2 a day, you would need an area of scrubbers the size of Arizona to trap all the CO2 added to the air by humans. There is also the ironic situation of having to use fossil fuels to strip the CO2 from the chemicals that bond to it.

3.) Fertilizing the ocean with iron is a very cheap, very feasible way to get rid of CO2, but might carry the risk of killing all marine life. In 2002, a group of scientists dumped 6,000 lbs of iron into the ocean and watched what happened. Oceanographer John Martin thought that the reason the Southern Ocean was anemic was because it was devoid of iron: "Give me a half tanker of iron, and I'll show you an ice age". The result was a colossal bloom of CO2-absorbing plankton. It's a very cheap way to get rid of CO2, but the plankton might also devour other nutrients that are essential for marine life, and stelilize the ocean.

4.) Turning CO2 to stone is another option that is relatively cheap, feasible, and carries a low risk. "The Grand Canyon is one of the largest carbon dioxide repositories on Earth. Hundreds of millions of years ago, a vast sea covered the land there. The water, rich in carbon dioxide, slowly reacted with other chemicals to create calcium carbonate, or limestone—the pinkish bands striping the canyon walls today." Nature takes a painfully slow time converting CO2 to stone, but by using chemicals like ovaline, CO2 can be transformed into calcium carbonate. According to the article, a single mineral carbonation plant could carve out an entire mountain, but replace what it took with the calcium carbonate. The problem is the $70 pricetag to get rid of 1 ton of CO2, and the fact that fossil fuels must be used to heat up the CO2 in the process.

5.) Cloud-seeding yachts are another way to cool down the Earth. The yachts would pump salt into the air to make more droples form in clouds, making them whiter, and therefore more reflective. Boosting the reflectivity of just 3 percent of maring stratocumulus clouds would curb global warming, but ejecting salt particles in an area with a drought could actually hinder the formation of clouds. You can't create clouds by ejecting salt either.

6.) The last option is also a last-ditch effort if all else fails. It's extremely unfeasible and outrageously expensive, and would involve making a mirror spanning 600,000 square miles to reflect 1% of solar radiation. It would cost nothing to maintain, and all that people would see is a small dot in the sun, but the price tag and engineering make it hard to build.

Sorry of this is in the wrong section. It's technology and has to do with the earths climate so I'm not sure which forum it would be better off in.

posted on Jul, 25 2005 @ 01:10 AM
I see someone else reads Popular Science here. I was wondering about the iron powder statement dumped from a tanker. We could do this now and they did a small scale experiment already that succeeded. I think this holds a lot of promise. Well I had some questions regarding this but found some answers in the following link.
It appears that causing an ice age may be an exaggeration and this iron dumping may be something that might have to be done over a very large area on a regular basis so the environmental impact would be of concern.

posted on Jul, 25 2005 @ 01:52 AM

I think this holds a lot of promise.

We need to study dumping iron into the oceans a bit more before we commit. We do not need a HUGE boom in plankton, that would be a very bad thing as it could starve out other food sources and whatnot. It may be good for life on land but we need to figure out what it does to life in the oceans first.

posted on Jul, 25 2005 @ 02:41 AM
Hmmm ... Sounds interesting. I hope no terrorists read the PS article.

PS: Just joking. Seriously, these are interesting approaches. I just hope whatever is done, it's thought through long and hard first. Things like this worry me a little, as they sometimes have a way of biting you in the rear in the detail.

[edit on 7/25/2005 by netbound]

posted on Jul, 25 2005 @ 11:52 AM
I've thoroughly read through all the articles and the 5th proposal makes the most sense to me. 3% more clouds in the sky would barely be noticable. And they would appear over the oceans. Somehow if a drought occurred, we would shut off the ships and then the clouds would return to normal in a few days. No lasting effects, and mininal risks. All's needed now is a few more studies and we may have ourselves a solution to global warming.

posted on Aug, 6 2006 @ 11:52 PM
Has anyone heard of any further research or studies on methods to combat global warming? I'm wondering if any group or government has been doing any testing. Or is this just a case where everyone is ignoring the problem hoping it will go away? It will be a whole lot cheaper I believe to confront and do something about the problem rather than let coastal cities go underwater and our weather go haywire as the earth continues to heat up. That's just my opinion though. I believe some people would be fine reacting to sea levels rising another 15 or more feet and all kinds of weather disasters costing billions of dollars rather than propose a project that aims to prevent or curtail that.

posted on Aug, 8 2006 @ 07:02 PM
Very intersting ideas, though, as it says, you'd need fossil
fuels for half of them.

I like the cloud yacht idea myself, just because I envision
these huge magnificent ships floating lazily through the air,
even if that's a bit off.

I like the mirror idea the best, I mean it's not like we'd need
to build one giant mirror, just thousands of smaller mirrors
that could interconnect in orbit to form the giant mirror.

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