What You Need To Know About Carbon Dioxide Removal

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Yves here. I hate to sound like a Luddite, but even if some carbon dioxide removal projects get off the ground and manage to sequester meaningful amounts of carbon dioxide, this strikes me as at best an exercise in hopium, and worst in cynicism. Warming Siberian permafrost is belching out huge amounts of methane. So too are portions of the ocean floor. Yet the planet continues to operate on a business as usual basis when we need to engage in radical conservation now.

By Dana Nuccitelli, research coordinator for the nonprofit Citizens’ Climate Lobby, and an environmental scientist, writer, and author of ‘Climatology versus Pseudoscience,’ published in 2015. He has published 10 peer-reviewed studies related to climate change and has been writing about the subject since 2010 for outlets including Skeptical Science and The Guardian. Originally published at Yale Climate Connections

Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) from the atmosphere continues to be a hot topic. In its newest report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that the Paris Climate Agreement targets cannot be met without substantial efforts to remove some of the more than three-trillion tons of carbon dioxide already in Earth’s atmosphere, about one-third of which originates from humans’ burning of  fossil fuels.

Financial services company Stripe recently teamed up with several other companies, including Google parent Alphabet and Facebook parent Meta, to create a Frontier Fundthat commits nearly $1 billion to purchase carbon dioxide removal from startups. In mid-April, Jane Flegal left her position as Senior Director for Industrial Emissions in the White House’s Office of Domestic Climate Policy to work on the Frontier Fund, and Stripe has also hired climate scientist Zeke Hausfather, a past regular contributor to this site.

Many climate advocates express concerns that governments and businesses will use carbon dioxide removal as a diversion from efforts to transition away from fossil fuels. Indeed, the IPCC report is clear that maximally ambitious efforts to both mitigate emissions and remove carbon from the atmosphere are needed to meet the Paris targets. To pursue both avenues aggressively, a 2019 paper suggested that governments set separate targets for emissions cuts and for carbon dioxide removal, and the European Union has done just that in its proposed European Climate Law. As Hausfather has noted, delaying emissions reductions today and relying instead on carbon dioxide removal later would be exceptionally expensive:

How Much CDR Is Needed?

The IPCC report noted that carbon dioxide removal can serve three purposes over different timescales.

In the short-term, it can reduce net human greenhouse gas emissions. In the medium term, carbon dioxide removal can offset hard-to-abate emissions from certain industrial activities, agricultural practices, and long-distance transport to achieve the goal of reaching net zero emissions. In the long term, it can draw down the amount of carbon in the atmosphere to gradually reduce global temperatures. Note that the carbon dioxide removal process is distinct from carbon capture and storage (CCS), which captures carbon from point sources like smokestacks in an effort to prevent it from ever entering the atmosphere.

In a 2019 report, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) estimated that approximately 10 to 20 billion tons (gigatons, or GT) of greenhouse gases come from sources that would be very difficult or expensive to eliminate. That report concluded that approximately 10 GT of CDR per year would be needed by 2050, and perhaps 20 GT per year by 2100. A separate analysis by carbon dioxide removal experts was more optimistic about the feasibility of reducing emissions, especially from the industrial sector: Report authors Andrew Bergman and Anatoly Rinberg concluded that toward the end of the century only approximately 3 GT of hard-to-abate greenhouse gas emissions might remain if decarbonization efforts are highly successful in all sectors.

In short, a reasonable goal to help achieve the Paris targets and establish the possibility of eventually drawing down atmospheric carbon levels and global temperatures would be in the ballpark of 10 gigatons of carbon dioxide removal by 2050.

How to Remove Carbon From the Atmosphere?

CDR falls into two broad categories: natural and technological. On the natural side, Earth’s soils and plants already store more than 3 trillion tons of carbon. So expanding natural carbon storage offers the opportunity to remove a significant additional amount from the atmosphere by leveraging the photosynthesis process.

The 2019 NAS report estimated that given current technology and understanding, about 10 GT of carbon dioxide per year could now be removed from the atmosphere safely through natural solutions globally at a cost of less than $100 per metric ton; however, “achievable limits could be smaller by a factor of two or more … because human behavior, logistical shortages, organizational capacity, and political factors can also limit deployment.”

A $100 per-ton price for carbon dioxide removal is considered to be relatively cost-effective. The NAS estimated that the U.S. could increase its natural carbon storage by about 1 GT per year annually at that price point.

CDR categories. (Source: National Academy of Sciences)

Two other recent papers, led by The Nature Conservancy’s Joseph Fargione in 2018 and by the University of Virginia’s Stephanie Roe in 2021, had findings consistent with those of the NAS regarding the total natural carbon dioxide removal potential globally and specifically for the U.S., but the studies differed in assessing the potential size of the three major individual natural CDR systems: forests, agriculture, and bioenergy.

Forest and Agricultural CDR

Forest carbon dioxide removal can be enhanced by reducing deforestation, planting new forests (afforestation), replanting depleted forests (reforestation), or improving forest management. Curbing deforestation is an effective solution in countries where the practice is a problem, for instance in Brazil and Indonesia, but is not relevant in most developed countries such as the U.S. where forestry is better regulated.

Afforestation and reforestation could increase carbon dioxide removal in the U.S. by about 150 million tons (MT) of carbon dioxide per year at less than $100 per ton, according to the NAS and Roe et al., or by 250 MT per year in the Fargione et al. analysis. Improving forest management in the U.S. – for example by harvesting older trees and logging in a manner resulting in lower forest impacts – could remove an additional 40 MT of carbon dioxide per year, according to Roe et al., 100 MT according to the NAS, and 250 MT in the Fargione et al. analysis.

While the Fargione team was the most bullish on forestry solutions, Roe et al. saw the most potential in agricultural carbon dioxide removal. This category can be enhanced by applying regenerative agriculture practices such as cover cropping, no-till farming, agroforestry (incorporating trees and shrubs into farms), applying compost and biochar, and rotational grazing on grasslands. The NAS and Fargione et al. estimated that if implemented in the U.S., these practices could achieve an additional 250 to 350 MT of CDR per year for less than $100 per ton.

Roe et al. concluded that biochar (a charcoal-like substance that’s made by burning organic material from agricultural and forestry feedstocks) alone in the U.S. could achieve 260 MT CDR per year. The study also estimates that shifting to lower-impact grazing practices on managed pastures could achieve a further 146 MT of CDR, plus another 76 MT from agroforestry and 65 MT from cover cropping and no-till farming. Concerning biochar, Fargione’s team noted that “current adoption is negligible due to a variety of cultural, technological, and cost barriers.” Development of facilities to produce both biochar and biofuels may help overcome these obstacles.

Bioenergy and Natural CDR Challenges

Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) is another potential natural solution. The process involves burning biowaste for energy (from agriculture, forestry, and municipal sources) or from purpose-grown crops like corn that could be used as the feedstock, and then capturing and storing the carbon from the smokestack. BECCS is a favorite solution of climate modelers because it can replace fossil fuel energy and also achieve carbon dioxide removal, since the captured carbon is removed from the atmosphere by plants, unlike carbon capture from burning fossil fuels, which would at best be carbon-neutral.

The NAS report estimated that BECCS could achieve about 4 GT per year of carbon dioxide removal globally and 500 MT in the U.S. for less than $100 per ton. The Roe study put the global number around 2.5 GT if BECCS is able to widely replace fossil fuel energy production. But BECCS so far has been implemented at just one facility, in part because burning vegetation is roughly only half as efficient as burning coal, and because carbon capture technology presents an added cost, so biomass power plants don’t apply it.

Land availability poses another challenge for many natural carbon dioxide removal solutions. For bioenergy, collecting sufficient biowaste is logistically difficult, and devoting suitable agricultural land to growing crops to be burned for energy reduces the land available to grow crops for food. Devoting land to afforestation raises the same land competition obstacle.

Carbon storage permanence poses another challenge. Carbon captured in soils through regenerative agricultural practices can subsequently be released back into the atmosphere if farming practices change. Forestry carbon dioxide removal can similarly be reversed if the trees are killed, for example by climate-worsened wildfires or by bark beetle outbreaks. Scientists from the World Resources Institute recently estimated that global forests declined by 62 million acres in 2021, including 9 million acres of old growth tropical forests that released 2.5 GT of carbon dioxide, about 17% of which were burned by wildfires.

Technological and Ocean CDR

Technology-based direct air capture (DAC) can be more reliably permanent if the carbon is stored in stable geologic formations. The DAC process generally involves using fans to blow air across a filter that can capture the carbon, but is very energy intensive and currently expensive.

Climeworks has the only existing commercial DAC machine, in Iceland, where it captures just 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually at a reported cost of $600 per ton. The IPCC envisions that direct air capture could achieve 5 to 40 GT per year of CDR globally, but that approach faces significant barriers like currently high costs and the availability of extra clean energy to run the fans.

There are also a number of potential ocean carbon dioxide removal processes. For example, iron fertilization might enhance phytoplankton growth, which could draw carbon from the atmosphere. Large-scale kelp farming could achieve similar ends. But the CDR effectiveness of these methods remains uncertain, as do the impacts on local marine ecosystems. A 2021 NAS report recommends further research into proposed ocean carbon dioxide removal solutions.

The Bathtub Analogy

Earth’s atmosphere can be thought of like a bathtub that’s close to overflowing. The amount of water the tub can hold represents the Paris agreement’s target carbon budget. The faucet represents human emissions, and CDR is the drain. The water level is already so high that avoiding damage from overflow requires both turning down the faucet and opening the drain as quickly as possible. Neither alone can be done quickly enough to avoid overflow.

(Credit: M. May/Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin)

Natural CDR solutions could cost-effectively remove 10 GT of carbon dioxide per year globally in the coming years, 10% of which could be achieved by the U.S., but may reach just half those levels given various practical constraints like land availability and politics. Reaching a CDR goal of around 10 GT per year by 2050 would thus require substantial development of new CDR techniques like direct air capture, as is the goal of the Frontier Fund.

But advocates are correct to warn that CDR efforts should not distract or divert resources from efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The bathtub water level will continue to rise until the faucet is turned off, and right now it’s on full blast.

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57 comments

  1. Joe

    The only way to even come close to not violating Global Entropy is to have a mechanism that uses only Solar energy. The best thing we have right now is something called a “Tree”. Even it gives back some CO2 after it dies.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      One might expand on the “tree” concept by saying “plant” in general. And carbon resuckdown plant associations and communities like marshes, swamps, and peat bogs.

      Reply
  2. GM

    Nobody who took a thermodynamics course and then continued to take the discipline seriously can fall for that scam.

    It is just something so basic, and yet…

    We go back to C.P. Snow’s Two Cultures and how the people who rule us don’t know the most fundamental rules governing the world around them, such as the Second Law of Thermodynamics (directly relevant in this case)

    Reply
    1. MarkT

      Not only do they not not know about the laws of thermodynamics, but they don’t care. Who needs laws of nature? Theirs is a world of complete narcissism, where self delusion and propaganda solve everything. Until eventually they can’t anymore.

      This is what you get when you throw balance out the window, and allow one sector of society to dominate everyone else. Oh sorry, I forgot, there is no such thing as society. My mistake. /s

      Reply
    2. Henry Moon Pie

      I think we have a lot of people who do a lot of ordering subordinates around who think that Nature works the same way. The Chinese are handling it–whether one agrees with all their methods or not–with an approach that seems to be based on two things: 1) Covid is a daunting opponent worthy of respect; and 2) it will require extraordinary human effort and even sacrifice to defeat it. In Oceania, our elites have declared victory and undertaken an extensive PR campaign. When Covid refuses to comply, they first react with schadenfreude-inspiring denial. When they regain their footing, they resume their customary finger-wagging.

      But Covid just laughs.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        If our elites actually laugh at it behind their closed doors, instead of just encouraging us to laugh at it while they take it seriously for themselves in secret, then we may hope that they are getting it as much as they are working to spread it all over and among us nonelites.

        If that is so, let us hope our elites all get the lifelong covid they deserve, and die screaming in pain and sorrow from end-state Mad Covid Disease.

        Reply
      2. digi_owl

        As i understand it, most of the leadership in China have some kind of engineering degree.

        Over in the west however, they are mostly lawyers, economists, or some other kind of social “sciences”.

        Chinese also have the “benefit” of long term control, rather than risk getting voted out every 4 years or so. Thus they can set plans in motion that may take a decade or more to play out.

        Reply
        1. MarkT

          Yes. There was a time when the leadership of Boeing had engineering degrees too. Then it was realised that this was unnecessary: financial engineering is way more profitable. And anyway, who needs to build a plane that can actually fly? It’s very easy to make it fly on a balance sheet.

          Reply
    3. seenopandemichearnopandemic

      GM,

      I did not take a thermodynamics course, but is your point that CO2 is produced currently as a by-product of energy use, and so using more energy to reverse it is net-energy losing process ?

      Reply
      1. GM

        No, the point is that you have a very dilute gas in the vast volume that is the atmosphere, and you are trying to unmix it from that vast volume and put it somewhere else.

        The “negative entropy” cost of doing that is absolutely gigantic.

        And we face not just a climate change crisis, but an energy crisis too.

        Reply
        1. seenopandemichearnopandemic

          Ahh, I understand … this entropy-reduction process – from vastly diluted gas to a concentrated mixture – is hugely expensive energy-wise. Thank you so much (and also, greatly appreciate your covid-related thoughts).

          Reply
          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            I think it was a thread right here long ago where it was established that as water vapor condenses into water micro-droplets suspended in the atmosphere, that those droplets absorb, dissolve and retain CO2 inside themselves, which they then carry back to earth or sea surface if they precipitate out as falling rain/snow/fog/etc. So that is a solar-driven method of carbon-capture sky-scrubbing which is as diffuse as the problem itself.

            And plants are intaking CO2 all over the earth and the sea-surface and fixing it with water into carbohydrates as driven by solar power. That is also a process as diffuse as the problem itself is.

            If organized mankind could reduce its carbon skyflooding to below the amount of carbon skyscrubbing which plants and water vapor condensation and precipitation are performing, then ideally organized mankind could permit or even guide natural process towards net-net draining of the skycarbon reserves. All driven by the buildup of entropy and thermodynamic decay and rundown taking place within the sun itself. Far away from us.

            Reply
            1. Jacob Hatch

              that and a few million years, plus a reactivation of the earth’s core for far more volcanic activity and plate movement to bury the carbon before it moves back up ( what goes down goes back up). I can hardly wait.

              Reply
            2. MarkT

              Much easier to say why the &$#@ continue to pump buried Solar Energy back into the atmosphere and not expect a climate response. The atmosphere which sustains us is only a few miles deep.

              Reply
              1. MarkT

                It’s probably been well reported here that the only reason civilisation as we know it came about is because of the very unusual climate stability of the last twenty thousand years or so. Sad that it’s not in the curriculum in every school.

                Reply
  3. Ghost in the Machine

    Here is an interesting paper on the feasibility of Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology.

    An inter-model assessment of the role of direct air capture in deep mitigation pathways
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-10842-5

    Here are some quotes I found relevant for this post in the paper.

    “Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) and afforestation are considered the most likely options to realise negative emissions, and have been largely investigated in many Integrated Assessment Modeling (IAM) studies. However, concerns about the sustainability of biological strategies and competition with food, water use, and ecosystems have led to a focus on alternatives to sequester carbon from the atmosphere.”

    “Two groups of technologies can be identified as most promising, from a technical and economic perspective. The first (hereafter named as DAC1) is based on using water solutions containing hydroxide sorbents with a strong affinity for CO2, such as sodium hydroxide, calcium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide. The second (DAC2) uses amine materials bonded to a porous solid support.”

    After much analysis and discussion of the technologies there is this:

    “If large-scale plants are going to be built (i.e. DAC1 technology), capturing 30 GtCO2/year means installing 30,000 facilities. This is comparable with the cumulatively produced number of jet aircraft (21,000 in 1958–2007) or natural gas plants (15,000 in 1903–2000) built in the past. By contrast, considering Climeworks’s design(i.e. DAC2), around 30 million units could be required in operational stock by the end of the century. This is aligned to the world annual market for cars and commercial vehicles (73 million unit in 2017).”

    “Past studies have investigated environmental implications of different CDR options (4,5,40,41,42). Conversely to BECCS, there are fewer external constraints that may limit the deployment of DACCS a priori, as land and water use is significantly reduced compared to biological NETs (see Fig. 6b). Nevertheless, DACCS will have a significant impact on global energy provision.In 2100 it could require around 50 EJ/year of electricity, that is more than half of today’s total production (and about 10–15% of the global generation projected in 2100 by our models) and 250 EJ/year of heat, representing more than half of today’s final energy consumption globally (43) (Fig. 6a). It should be noted that providing around 200 EJ/year of waste heat may have implications on the locations of DACCS plants: in order to avoid additional infrastructure and pipelines, these need to be co-located close to industrial facilities where waste heat is recovered, partially limiting the decentralization advantage of this technology.”

    “Our scenarios’ average DACCS scale-up rates of 1.5 GtCO2/yr would require considerable sorbent production and up to 300 EJ/yr of energy input by 2100. The risk of assuming that DACCS can be deployed at scale, and finding it to be subsequently unavailable, leads to a global temperature overshoot of up to 0.8 °C. DACCS should therefore be developed and deployed alongside, rather than instead of, other mitigation options.”

    I should say! We are in trouble…

    Reply
    1. Ghost in the Machine

      To clarify a bit more, 1 EJ (1×10^18 J, a billion billion J) is equal to about 277.8 terawatt hours of energy. Total US primary energy production (coal, nuclear, gas, oil, renewables) was about 100 EJ in 2017. Electricity is not a primary energy source; it is a carrier created by other primary energy sources. Hydrogen is also a carrier. Total US renewable (dominated by hydro) in 2017 was about 10EJ. Increases in US renewable energy have averaged about 0.1 EJ/year from 1990-2007 and about 0.5 EJ/year from 2007-2017. I am sure it is more now but I do not have those numbers. It should be kept in mind that any renewable energy devoted to DACs will be in addition to that developed to replace existing fossil energy usage in society. I have gotten these numbers from a book I am reading, The Economic Superorganism by Carey King, who in turn got them from the Energy Information Administration.

      I will second GM above: any discussion that does not delve into the laws of thermodynamics and the numbers involved regarding energy and our economy is not a serious discussion. We will use less energy in the future and we need to develop a new economic ideology to deal with degrowth. Economics, of course, is just myth masquerading as science. It is a convenient myth to those in power, like the divine right of kings, but a myth nonetheless. We need a better one.

      Reply
      1. Henry Moon Pie

        I will second all you say and add special praise for your last paragraph.

        One thing I don’t like about carbon capture is that is another one-dimensional, symptom-treating approach. It’s not as crazy or idiotic as shooting sulfur in the sky every two years to bring down temperature, but it’s still one-dimensional.

        Rising temps, increasing GHG in the atmosphere, ocean acidification are all just symptoms of humans having way too much impact on the planet. Even though there are too many of us, I’m not inclined to see how to reduce human numbers (though I’m beginning to think some powerful folks are already thinking about it) so that leaves reducing consumption, i.e. degrowth. Everything we buy has a carbon footprint. And some of us are buying enough to destroy the planet all by ourselves (looking at you: the world’s richest 10%).

        I share some of the same pessimism that Yves expressed in her intro now that we’re hearing about MH4 numbers rising. But one source of “optimism” is that our elites seem intent on crashing the plane nose first, and even the goal of 7.6% per year in carbon reduction for 10 years is not looking so impossible now.

        Reply
          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            No it isn’t. It is the upper classes who rule us and who maliciously prevent every possible solution.

            Unless . . . . maybe the whole Russia-Ukraine-Sanctions drama is actually a stealth plan to crash the whole global economy into a Final Depression so deep that manmade carbon skyflooding is deeply reduced. Could that really be the plan?

            Reply
            1. MarkT

              That thought has crossed my mind a few times. Every time I decided that a plan of such sophistication is beyond the intelligence of those in charge. But that doesn’t rule out the possibility of this happening purely by chance as a result of their actions. Unintended consequences!

              Reply
                  1. orlbucfan

                    “No it isn’t. It is the upper classes who rule us and who maliciously prevent every possible solution.” c/o dw
                    ———————————-
                    I agree wholeheartedly. I speak as an American who has spent her whole life studying how, and following up on making my carbon footprint as small as possible. It hasn’t been easy nor perfect, but doing so isn’t as hard as it sounds. I also agree with Yves on radical conservation. That’s part of my lifestyle, and ingrained in me.

                    Reply
                    1. drumlin woodchuckles

                      The smallness of your personal footprint gives you the personal credibility needed to advocate for shrinking the collective social footprint overall through the application of social-wide methods.

                      When the sneery snarkers say: ” oh yeah? what’s in your footprint?”, you can show them just how small your footprint is. That may convince onlookers to the argument that you do indeed have the personal credibility to deserve a respectful hearing. And it is the onlookers to the argument that you are trying to reach, not the sneery snarker itself.

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                Someone should break that “richest 10%” figure down some. How much of that 50% are the world’s richest ONE percent responsible for? How much of that 50% are the worlds SECOND richest ONE percent responsible for? And so on?

                Reply
  4. wendigo

    So a future of Musk coal fired electrical stations with a carbon sucking machine overhead. The carbon sucking machine would suck all the carbon from the coal burning and some extra from surrounding air.

    The carbon sucking machine would change the carbon into SpaceX fuel and the coal plant would power the carbon sucking machine and Tesla cars.

    Sending all the carbon into space forever. Problem solved.

    Reply
    1. Jacob Hatch

      I appreciate your humor. Just case someone takes your remark half serious, I want to point out to them that nearly all rocket fuel is consumed within the atmosphere, the rockets payloads coast into orbit. Even the lunar modules, who’s emissions will eventually all return to earth under the effect of gravity, used only about 2% of their fuel load outside of the earths upper atm.

      Reply
  5. David H.

    I read this comment somewhere (I wish remembered where), but it went something like this, “I will for sure know that there is a climate crisis when celebrities, elites and the rich stop flying in their private jets.”
    Thoughts?

    Reply
    1. Ghost in the Machine

      I would say “no” given the “let them eat cake” attitude and enbubblement of elites who can afford to fly private. I would say the crisis would manifest in this area more like that in Kim Stanley Robinson’s book, The Ministry for the Future. In that novel, private jets were attacked And crashed in mass simultaneous attacks by drones. Well, I guess that might get elites to stop flying. Personal fear.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Perhaps huge flocks of “suicide birds” could be trained to fly into the private jets’ engines.

        Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Sorry, no. When a typical August day in Middle America is 130 degrees in the shade, with the temperature going all the way down to 110 degrees at night, the celebrities and especially the Bezos-Muskiform Oligarchs will keep flying their private jets regardless, and look down, and laugh.

      Probably the richest celebrities and Oligarchs will have invented for themselves a whole new class of ultra-ginormous private planes which they will call ” sky yachts”.

      So no. If you decide to take the “no more private planes for celebrities” as the indicator for ” okay, manmade global warming is real”, you will be mislead and delayed in your judgements.

      Reply
      1. David H.

        I suspect the remedy for our climate crisis will fall disproportionately on the remaining poor types.

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          That is the upper class plan.

          ” Into the Jackpot Easy-Bake Ovens with you!”

          Reply
    3. Maritimer

      “I will for sure know that there is a [pandemic] when celebrities, elites and the rich [get injected].” Very reminiscent of all those wealthy, connected DDodgers who got special treatment from their Docs.

      Reply
    4. albrt

      If by “crisis” you mean “things have gotten so bad that the elites are permanently confined to their bunkers” then yes, that will probably cause a reduction in private jet travel.

      If “crisis” means anything less than that, then no.

      Reply
    5. MarkT

      Here in New Zealand there has long been a private jet that does almost daily flights from Napier to Wellington (Flightradar24). More recently there is now a jet that goes up and down between Taupo and Wellington. With American number plates. This is not to mention other stuff.

      Reply
    6. AJB

      The elites don’t and won’t stop and they don’t and won’t lose. The radical change, the losses, eating bugs, depopulation etc. is for the plebs.

      Reply
    7. Mike

      Every drop of oil will be sucked out of this planet. It will be more about if the celebrities will be able to still afford the jet fuel. I think the highest bidder will be our military from a last ditch effort to secure more of the resource when its about gone.

      Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well . . . I guess we’ll see. If their studies actually get “society” to suck down more skycarbon than the amount of skycarbon that Doerr flooded the sky with to make his money, then it will be net-net carbon-resuckdown worth it.

      Time will tell.

      Reply
      1. juno mas

        My comment was sarcasm. The billion dollars isn’t going to find any soutions in time for the disruptive effects of climate change. That’s why I capitalized “STUDY”. The sustainability center will, of course, be esconced in a buidling with Doer’s name on it.

        Reply
  6. Herb

    It’s really very simple. James Hansen has estimated that the planet needs to get to 350 PPM of CO2 or below to have something approaching a livable planet in the long run. The only way to do that is through massive carbon dioxide Removal. In addition of course to degrowth and Accelerated Emission Reductions and direct climate cooling of the atmosphere.

    There are quite a few promising approaches particularly those involving rock weathering that use energy from chemical reactions to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

    Those who are arguing that thermodynamics makes the idea foolish are literally and prematurely guaranteeing a dystopian future for every person on the planet before the end of the century.

    Reply
    1. Mike

      Maybe arguing the basis of the idea being foolish makes sense and instead resources put toward how the heck we are going to survive the impending collapse instead.

      Reply
    2. Earthling

      Ok, I’ll bite. Question: How do you expose more rock to weathering than is now exposed, in quantities that could possibly make a difference? Answer: You physically uncover it and break it into smaller pieces with more surface area, in great quantities. Problem: You have to use a lot of force and lifting, using heavy equipment, which runs on fossil fuel. Endpoint: back to square one.

      We kidded ourselves with the corn ethanol math, it is fair for the physicists to question these ‘promising approaches’ with a cold eye.

      Reply
    3. juno mas

      The best approach to dealing with climate change is radical conservation, adaptive adjustment to its effects, and hope like hell chaos doesn’t reign.

      Reply
  7. Herb

    But the idea is not only not foolish it’s essential. And it in no way needs to stop the planet from doing everything that’s necessary. Decades more of relentlessly increasing temperatures and Ecosystem breakdown even under the most optimistic emission reduction scenario will lead to an unimaginable dystopia. We will be able to adapt to that for another decade ot two and then all bets are off. If south Asia’s Billions of people are experiencing close to wet bulb temperature’s now what will they experience a decade or two or three or four from now?

    It will not be adaptable in any meaningful sense as political economic organizational and social cohesion will long be gone in our societies. I’m not willing to accept the end of civilization like that. Are you?

    Reply
  8. orlbucfan

    No, Herb. I am NOT willing to accept the end of civilization. Very good comment. Thank you!

    Reply
  9. Reaville

    Relying on CO2 removal is to create a Climate Change program chart that inserts “a miracle happens here” as the key milestone.

    The point of CO2 removal is to allow fossil fuel companies to continue to pollute. This is the latest lie that starts with “Clean coal”, “carbon sequestration”, “ethanol”, and etc.

    Reducing CO2 emissions is the only pragmatic path forward. It will be painful because we delayed for decades.

    Global politics, with the exception of China, don’t permit pain.

    When people go to the street (mass protests) then and only then will things change.

    This will happen in Asia and India first, but because the global system is interlinked, it’s possible that the US will have to change if Asia/India blow up due to climate change. We are very close to this event.

    If we wait until the American SW and SE are in collapse (drought and temperatures, natural disasters, sea level rise), then Congress will act. But it will be way too late.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      CO2 emission reduction is half the path forward. It would prevent the ever higher buildup of heat-entrappment.

      Legacy skycarbon re-suckdown is the other half of the path forward. It would allow reducing the heattrapping excess skycarbon already up in the air all around us.

      The amount of skycarbon already in the air is already driving the meldown of the permafrost with its upcoming mass release of more peat-carbon into the air. The heat that will cause will drive the eruption of condition-venus levels of methane into the air from all the shallow-sea clathrates. That’s even if we emit no more skycarbon.

      So both are necessary at the same time.

      Reply

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