Also the various ocean technologies are going to run into the same environmental complaints as the idea of seeding otherwise barren areas of the ocean with missing metals, causing algae blooms that sink to the bottom. See https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/iron-dumping-ocea... for a discussion of some of those. (And see https://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2014/04/28/iron-fer... for a more laudatory article about this in the general press.) If you can deal with the regulatory concerns, the existing low-tech solution is one of the cheaper ways of removing CO2 that is known.
Speaking personally, I understand the qualms of environmentalists but consider the possibility of local toxic algae blooms to be a less serious environmental disaster than the otherwise certain ocean acidification that will wipe out all shellfish species worldwide. Yeah, nobody wants to accept a bad outcome, but in this case I think it is better than the alternative.
By the end of 2019 we hope to have our first olivine on the beach. The project will be funded by donations, but we will also be selling olivine/peridot jewelry that's price equates to actual tons of olivine we will dump on the beach. Raw olivine is currently ~$20-$25/ton and the average us person puts out 15-20 tons of CO2/year. The next closest technology for sequestering carbon is well over $150/per ton.
For more info and access to the full text studies, visit https://Climitigation.org and Project Vesta https://ProjectVesta.org
For $400 I want a t-shirt that says "I'm carbon neutral. Do you have the rocks to become carbon neutral too?" with a pic of olivine rocks and your website url.
Donating money so that polluting industries can pollute less seems like a bailout to those industries. They should be fined/regulated by their governments in those countries. If they get a bailout which gives them a competitive advantage (free money) what's stopping them from opening another low-tech, inefficient plant with the extra money, then expecting another bailout? It seems like rewarding bad behavior.
We can do both! No need to make a choice. The carbon offsetting schemes in the developing world are currently very cheap because we have all the low hanging fruits available at the moment. When all the very inefficient and easy to replace processes will be replaced, the offsetting schemes will be much more expensive than geoengineering solutions.
> Donating money so that polluting industries can pollute less seems like a bailout to those industries
It's not really how it works (at least not the companies I've looked at). The way it works is you have a more expensive and equivalent way to do things which at the end does release less carbon. It still works in a free market way. For example they engineered cooking stove which are much more efficient but slightly more expensive, they are subsidised by the Co2 offset donations.
Giving What We Can has published an analysis on the topic. You can read it here when the site is up again (it is down for me right now): https://www.givingwhatwecan.org/research/causes/climate-chan...
Tl;dr: Cool Earth is their recommendation.
For example, since methane is a stronger greenhouse gas than CO2, one can generate CO2 credits by finding a natural methane leak and igniting it.
While yes, it needs to be done to reduce the greenhouse effect, this is just addressing one of the runaway effects. Removal and reduction technologies are needed to move our individual footprints towards zero.
Why don't you just stop eating meat, stop driving, stop whatever else that you do and have a smaller carbon footprint naturally, instead of living a carbon lavish life and paying some money to be called carbon neutral.
Its like bribing your way out of jail after you have done the crime.
[EDIT]: removed expletives
Why? Because I want to keep my standard of living, just like almost everyone else. What a silly question to even ask.
Any solution that asks people to practice austerity is obviously doomed to fail. Any solution that leverages a human's self-interested (even if it's just vanity) at least has a chance.
> Its like bribing your way out of jail after you have done the crime.
It's more like when faced between the choice of paying a fine or going to jail, you pay the fine. That money can be put to work and that time can be put to use, but if you just sit in jail nobody benefits, it just costs the public money to keep you there.
Except of course in reality there is no crime here that anybody could get prosecuted for, and the real victims haven't even been born yet.
These things you classify as comfort may not be that essential and good for you and the others. Someone that eats animal products everyday and claims that it's their comfort, while it's affecting their health, the lives of 56 billion animals per year and the environment, is, to me, problematic.
I always, in my head, compare it to slavery. While it's not the same thing, of course, the pattern is the same. Something that's not ethical at all, but we, for a long time, did not care because of the comfort it brings us. Can we still live without it? Of course. And well.
I'm sorry, I'm having a hard time getting my point accross in these topics, but what I mean is that what you call "comfort" may not that critical to your well-being at all. You don't need to change eveything from day 1, but doing it a bit more everyday will make feel like a better human being, as you know you're living by respecting others and your environment, while giving money is kind of too easy and doesn't influence what's surrounding you. If you want things to change, you have to be this change. By being it you expose others to the issue you're fighting and make think about it in another way, up to a point they might understand it and join the fight, or at least acknowledge it. It's a very slow process but this is how sustainable change goes since the dawn of time. Actions matter, but ideas win. And ideas don't get seeded with money (well, in the long-term... because propaganda and stuff, but I hope you get the gist).
In another comment you mention you don't like walking. These likings are not by any means frozen in you. Maybe you never tried enjoying walking alone, with your thoughts drifting away in your mind and just living the present moment. Comfort is really subjective, I really think what we should all yearn for is the greater good, which, suprisingly doesn't cost that much in the end and gives you a real sentiment of fulfillment. It's just a matter of /being/ that change.
It's not so much about offsetting my personal carbon emissions - it's more about supporting projects that could potentially slow down runaway global warming. There are a lot of feedback loops in the pipeline in the next 20 years that will accelerate climate change (arctic ice melts, more heat gets absorbed etc). Those feedback loops are going to kick in even if we stopped all human emissions today. So when that happens and drastic environmental changes start occurring, I'm hoping we'll have some demonstrated solutions like advanced weathering we could scale up.
It's important though not to overlook the effect of investing in other people's carbon efficiency instead.
A piece of anecdotal evidence. I willingly spent ~25000€ extra on my Belgium home's energy efficiency. One year later, I end up living in Latvia, where many places don't even have simple radiators valves. When their appartments with city heating get too hot in winter, they just open the window at -30°C! Imagine spending just 5000€ on my home, and the rest offering free radiator valves installations in Latvia -- or other even more efficient schemes of course!
Going car-less for a year is similar to going vegan for three years or doing 3 crossing of the Atlantic by plane. Switching over to buy exclusively "green energy" is almost twice as effective in reducing CO² emission compared to a vegan diet per year. All those are high impact changes, while home energy efficiency improvements are medium to low impact changes, with wall insulation estimated to be about 50% compared to eating less meat and up to 10th compared to a vegan diet.
Ie if energy price is raised a lot, it will make poor people's lives a lot harder suddenly.
But currently the price of things is very much disconnected from the climate impacts
I saw a recent study that said everyone going veggie in the developed world would only have a couple of percentage points effects on emissions. Surprisingly ineffective.
We don't know if the OP already has a fairly low carbon footprint, or has done all they can to reduce it.
Cumulative effort and reducing carbon footprints on many fronts is what we need.
- Walk / Cycle where you can. Use public transport where you cant.
- Have your heating / AC lower.
- Stop using single use plastics.
- Eat less meat.
- Swap all your bulbs to low power equivalents.
- Take shorter showers.
- Turn off your work monitors / PC when you leave the office. (Assuming tech population here)
- Switch to a power provider that only uses 100% renewable power. (Like bulb in the UK)
- Support a charity that is planting trees or is fighting to save the rain forest.
- Donate/pay to have some charity/company do some carbon removal for you.
- Change your browsers default search engine to Ecosia (Bing results and they plant trees with the profits)
Lots of tiny things can be done now, with relatively little effort. In parallel with companies and researchers work on better carbon capture techniques.
Those little things of "low effort" have just as little impact. Those things that are significant (transportation, meat consumption, heating) would also represent significant changes to my level of comfort. I like meat. I like being warm. I like not walking everywhere. I dislike public transport. I like long hot showers. I like to keep my PC running.
On the other hand, I can budget some money for the "luxury" of being carbon neutral. I can also not do that and keep on living the way do. The money is on the table, those changes to my lifestyle aren't.
Globe-scale carbon sequestration would increase demand for olivine massively. Would mining operations be able to scale appropriately without prices going through the roof?
If you are interested in getting involved, feel free to msg me!
Thank you so much for your comment!
Edit-As to pricing, if olivine is a common byproduct of other activities and generally common in that sense then obtaining 1 ton of olivine is the cost to move it. Then they need to process and disburse it. That seems like a cheap process.
Edit2-the non-cheap part of this seems the dispersal. How long will it take to disperse all that olivine?
If for any reason ophiolites weren't enough, there's places at slow-spreading ridges where it's peridotite all the way from the ocean floor to the outer core, albeit expensive to mine.
In short, we would run out of CO2 before we run out of olivine.
For the moment, that’s a slight overestimate; we’re a little over 400ppm, and pre-Industrial levels were about 300ppm, so we “only” need to remove 1/4 (and we don’t really need to go back all the way to preindustrial levels, it was about 325ppm in 1970)
In general, the cost of mining, milling and grinding 1 ton of rock in large-scale mining, has been calculated to be about $7/ton. Applied to olivine, it proposed that it would be about $12/ton.
The good news is that for the initial olivine, we will attempt to utilize "tailing" piles, which are the removed rock from existing mines. It turns out that diamonds, nickel, chromite, and other commodities are found in olivine-rich rocks. And to get to them, they have to dig up massive amounts of olivine that just sits on the site in piles as "waste."
Those tailings piles are also where some of the real-world calculations for olivine dissolution rates come from. They even determined that some mines hosted in olivine-rich rocks actually more than offset their own CO2 emissions in this unintentional way.
The ideal set up for a beach project would be right on the coast (in a tropical area as temperature affects the speed of weathering), near the end of a railway that runs from an abandoned mine with tons of tailings piles.
To bring the planets atmospheric CO2 concentrations back to pre-industrial levels would likely require around 30-50 new olivine mines globally. The good news though is that olivine is extremely common, making up 80% of the mantle. Almost every country has olivine/dunite deposits, and so countries with cheap labor and lack of other viable export commodities would be ideal places to open mines, which would also help create jobs for them (and ones that actually help the planet).
Prices wouldn't go through the roof, because the demand isn't there at higher prices. A significantly higher price would make other methods of sequestration attractive instead.
Only thing is, once a significant number of people started doing that, it generally stopped being free — people started charging money for it.
If the trees were to burn, all of that carbon you worked so hard to sequester would be released, so it is not foolproof and decades of sequestration can be rolled back in hours. Whereas once the olivine grains are on the beach, it is going into the seafloor in a pretty much irreversible chemical reaction.
As for the rate of olivine weathering, it is the fastest of any major rock-forming silicate mineral and is further accelerated by the abrasions of rock, and by microbes. The rate of sequestration depends on the size of the particles, and how much is spread per each beach. Many of the calculations affirming the data have been measured from static piles of olivine tailings (pilings of rock that sit as "waste" in mines sites.) Those rates alone are impressive, but we are looking to utilize the beaches to further increase the rate of weathering to at least 20 microns per year. At that rate, a grain of olivine with a diameter of 100 microns will dissolve in around 5 years.
"Our experiments show that olivine grains when kept in motion weather fast because continuous
mutual impacts remove reaction-inhibiting silica from the surface and tiny µm-size slivers are produced allowing a fast chemical reaction. The application of olivine and other
(ultra)mafic minerals like serpentine in high-energy shallow marine environments can
make a significant contribution in the fight against climate change. The counteracting
effect on ocean acidification is immediate."
Here is the basic reaction:
Mg2SiO4 + 4 CO2 + 4 H2O −→ 2 Mg^2+ + 4HCO3^- + H4SiO4
CO2 is consumed, and Mg2+, Fe2+, H4SiO4 and HCO3^- are produced.
This paper has the best calculations and a lab experiment demonstrating the rate. https://climitigation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Rolling...
This one is good as well and discusses the tailing pilings and importance of microbes alone in possibly accelerating the rate up to 4,000x https://climitigation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Olivine...
Aside from the traditional engineering and commercial constraints of the idea, observations should focus on gathering data and modelling the complex ecological effects of the releases. They are the greatest factor of the plans success or failure so they should be a priority for prospective eco-engineering projects to observe, even where regulations and incentives may currently be limited.
Most of the ocean though is experiencing catastrophic increases in ph and need some sort of anti-acid, which is what is amazing about the reaction from olivine. It almost sounds too good to be true, but the resulting solution from the reaction is alkaline. Its addition to the water actually deacidifies the ocean in the local area.
Further, one of the breakdown products in the reaction is silicate, which is a limiting factor for diatoms. Diatoms are particularly hit hard by climate change and are important in the base of the food chain. Diatoms provide food for the entire ecosystem from fish and birds. Diatoms themselves may also actually be responsible for moving significant amounts of biomass to the deep ocean as they sink (further reducing CO2). They also compete with dinoflagellates, which are the cause of red tides and could be useful in stemming their increased occurrence by counterbalancing their rapidly increasing populations.
That said, you are right that the addition of olivine should be carefully considered, especially for specific areas. We know already to avoid areas that are adapted to acid conditions, such as peatlands, because increased alkalinity could accelerate the breakdown of peat and speedup methane release.
I am heartened by the existence of this technology and news that it is proceeding, even with the lack of political help and funding at this stage of need.
A popular theme at this time is how people just have too much total impact - yet humanity as a whole might have enough comprehension and agency, to not only reduce and survive the worst outcomes, but achieve a positive and stabilizing impact on this diverse and precious world.
Thanks and Good winds !
- we need to be sure we are paying for the carbon we trap minus the one we released
- we need to be sure releasing that much olivine in the complex and living system that is the ocean is not going to have a terrible impact on it
- we need to be able to adjust according to profile. I use planes a lot and I buy bitcoins, yet I'm veggie and don't own a car. I'm probably not at the middle of the Gausse line but I don't have a clear picture of where I am.
Kind I subscribe to some kind a newsletter about your project ?
As for your individual carbon profile, there are many calculators out there that can help you decide how much to offset. I am sure we will work in this area to help you determine your level, but for an intense calculation that you'll need to pull out your electricity bills of check the Resurgence one: https://www.resurgence.org/resources/carbon-calculator.html
This one is good as well https://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx
For your crypto:
Once that is added up you would be able to purchase your CO2 equivlanet output in olivine with this fomrula (CO2 output in tons)/1.25 (quantity of carbon sequestered per ton of olivine)
Our plan is to fund the fixed costs of the beach and operations through larger scale donations and sponsorships so that 100% of your money goes directly to tons of olivine on the beach and not administrative BS.
Net carbon sequestration:
The CO2 expenditure of the whole operation, including mining, milling, and transport, has been calculated to be about 4% of the amount of CO2 that is captured by the olivine.
"The ecological considerations should be made carefully. Let's look at some examples though, if we were to offset 100% of the next 100 years of anthropogenic CO2 emissions with olivine, it would only change the Mg-concentration of the ocean from something like 1296 to 1296.8 ppm and the bicarbonate content from 42 to 45 ppm. These changes are considered within the normal range of ocean water.
Most of the ocean though is experiencing catastrophic increases in ph and need some sort of anti-acid, which is what is amazing about the reaction from olivine. It almost sounds too good to be true, but the resulting solution from the reaction is alkaline. Its addition to the water actually deacidifies the ocean in the local area.
We are not planning to do any new mining for the first allotments of olivine, as there are literally "tons" of piles of olivine-rich rock sitting as "tailings" on the property of old mines.
This already excavated rock was mined in the pursuit of the mineral deposits below it and are considered "waste" by these mines. Kind of like buying a used car instead of having a new one created, that rock's CO2 is already accounted for. So, in this case, we do not have to mine it, only transport (ideally in an efficient manner like a train) and then mill it and spread it on the beach.
Check this paper for more details on the calculations: https://climitigation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Olivine...
1. What can the average person do to help you with your mission?
2. Where is the kickstarter?
3. Do you have someone working on marketing already?
4. Is there a way to volunteer without being physically present? Marketing, design, just brainstorming etc... I realize you have a "contact us" button on your website, but could you list more specifically what you are after?
5. Where can we keep track of what you are doing now and what the next step is?
6. What is standing in your way now to get your test project going. Specifically referring to "wiggle tank" and first olivine by 2019.
7. Have you factored in all of the economics of this? Extraction, delivery, dispersion?
But what's the total CO2 cost of the olivine (extraction, processing and transport to the sea) ?
We are not planning to do any new mining for the first allotments of olivine though, as there are literally "tons" of piles of olivine-rich rock sitting as "tailings" on the property of old mines.
How does adding it to the ocean differ from the stuff on the ocean floor?
So when can I buy it and/or register my interest?
First a thought experiment: consider 2 identical hermetically sealed containers (representing gravitationally sealed atmosphere), each containing an open bottle of water (representing oceans).
In container 1 we introduce CO2 in the container, some of which will be absorbed by the water both in dissolved gaseous form and in carbonate form.
In container 2 we introduce the same amount of CO2 by adding carbonate into the closed bottle and then open the bottle.
After letting both containers seperately settle, they will both have the same equilibrium end state, where the same fraction of CO2 is in the container's air, as dissolved gas in the bottle's water and also in the form of carbonate in the bottle's water.
H2O (liquid) + CO2 (gas) <=> H2CO3(solution)
I don't contest the chemical facts that these rocks can form carbonates by reacting with CO2.
I contest the idea that a new sink is identified. The sink is the same sink that has been known for a long time: the oceans, which are currently absorbing a large part of the emissions.
So how is this any different? It's just emissions foisted off as capture?!?
Do the investors know this? Who are the investors? I assume some of the investors are perfectly aware and simply big CO2 emitters trying to externalize any taxation back on the public by reclaiming money, and the other investors genuinely intend well but were simply tricked into supporting this scheme...
When carbonate rocks are transformed back into silicates through metamorphosis or magmatism the CO2 is released back into the atmosphere.
This definitely has the potentially for the long-term capture of CO2. For example in about 600 million years increased solar output will disrupt the carbonate-silicate cycle, resulting in the increased weathering of rocks and the capture of enough CO2 that C3 plants, which make up 99% of existing plant species, will no longer be able to live on earth. 
>These dissolved minerals are eventually carried by water to the ocean, where they are used by living organisms such as foraminifera, radiolarians, coccolithopores, and diatoms to create shells of CaCO3 (calcite) or SiO2 (opal) through the reactions Ca2+ (aq) + 2HCO3−
(aq) → CaCO3(s) + CO2(g) + H2O(l) (for calcite precipitation) and SiO2(aq) → SiO2(s) (for opal precipitation).
Observe how half of the carbon is transformed back into CO2, and of the remaining half most will simply return carbonate after death and it's just a small portion of the latter half that falls to the sea floor to end up buried...
Adding alkalinity to the oceans via accelerated silicate weathering can protect sea life against acidification. More alkalinity in the ocean also increases its absorption capacity for CO2, which reduces warming feedback effects caused by radiative forcing from CO2 in the atmosphere. The ocean contains ~60x as much inorganic carbon as the pre-industrial atmosphere; to draw down the content of the present atmosphere to pre-industrial levels, it would require increasing the dissolved inorganic carbon content of the oceans by less than 1%. Converting some of it to solid carbonate minerals is a nice-to-have but not especially critical, because average residence time of dissolved inorganic carbon is about 200,000 years, which will take us well beyond the age of fossil fuels.
I was discussing the claimed carbon removal aspect, so I now disregard the acidification aspect...
In my analogy I stand corrected and should have stated that the bottle of water represented the surface seawater, since there is no free fast oceanic mixer. The surface water is equilibrating much faster with atmosphere than the whole water column of the ocean.
You defend the technology by mentioning that the average residence time is about 200.000 years, but that is for all inorganic carbon across the whole depth of the ocean, not just the surface layer! As you say there is not enough mixing, so dissolved inorganic carbon in surface seawater has a much shorter residence time. The long residence time is dominated by the slow movement of deep sea water...
So unless the proposal is augmented with either a huge oceanic mixer, or with dumping the carbonate over the mariana trench (if it dissolves there, it will take a long time before it reaches atmosphere again), lacking these augmentations we are dissolving carbonates in surface seawater, and the carbonate ions can equilibrate back to CO2 so it really is just emissions foisted of as capture...
If it stays in the solid say calcite CaCO3 state as opposed to being dissolved, then it does not affect the alkalinity of the surface water...
As a small scale example, consider a beaker of distilled water freely exposed to the atmosphere. It dissolves a small amount of CO2 and becomes slightly acidic from carbonic acid. Now add sodium hydroxide -- it becomes strongly alkaline. Wait again and the pH falls again (though not to its original level), due to dissolving more carbon dioxide, which is deprotonated to form carbonate anions. You can keep adding hydroxide and absorbing more atmospheric CO2 for quite some time, until solubility limits come into play. Even though it is just a solution at equilibrium with the atmosphere, and not a precipitated solid, the sodium carbonate solution will not spontaneously separate back to sodium hydroxide solution in the beaker and CO2 in the surrounding atmosphere. It takes thermodynamic work to reverse the carbonate-heavy equilibrium.
I agree that after adding say CaCO3 to distilled water containing inorganic carbon (CO2, carbonate ions, ...) the carbon content will have increased after equilibrating with the atmosphere, but not with the claim that the eventual carbon content of the water will be the sum of the original carbon content plus added CaCO3 carbon content... some undisclosed part of the added carbon content will be released as CO2 to atmosphere...
A) H2O + CO2 <=> H2CO3
Equilibrium favors left hand side, but water exposed to atmosphere becomes slightly acidic from right hand side.
B) Mg2SiO4 + 2 H2CO3 => 2 MgCO3 + SiO2 + 2H2O
Equilibrium strongly favors the right hand side. But the reaction is strongly kinetically hindered with naturally occurring large lumps of rock. This is why it will take a very long time for natural silicate weathering processes to absorb the extra CO2 that humans have recently added to the atmosphere.
C) CaCO3 + H2CO3 <=> 2 CaHCO3
Equilibrium favors left hand side, but limestone can be solubilized from right hand side reaction at a low rate (or faster in presence of high CO2/water concentration).
Note that the metal in the silicate of the left hand side of B can be various alkali and alkaline earth metals, but magnesium dominates in olivine.
EDIT: "CO2 Mineral Sequestration Studies in US" by Golberg et al appears to be the best reference to the thermodynamic and kinetic aspects of magnesium silicate weathering that I can easily find outside of a paywall.
This paper is focusing on a different way to accelerate weathering: apply wet, concentrated, hot CO2 to crushed silicates. The olivine-crushing proposal discussed here on HN takes a different approach to accelerated weathering: crush and disperse larger quantities of silicates, but do not try to heat or pre-concentrate the CO2. Just let the ambient conditions of the atmosphere and oceans work on crushed rock (this is still far faster than natural weathering).
The key takeaway from this paper is on pages 3 and 4: magnesium silicate carbonation is exothermic (thermodynamically favored). Once magnesium silicate reacts with CO2, it would take more energy to undo the reaction and put that CO2 back in the atmosphere.
Olivine weathering is so energetically favorable from that paper that, if you put enough of it into a sphere, and feed it enough pure CO2, it's actually a usable thermal energy source.
You can "burn" it like coal, except that it "burns" CO2 instead of oxygen.
To relate back to Mars, you can probably do similarly absurd things with the perchlorates in the soil there. You can "burn" perchlorates in a reducing atmosphere of e.g. methane from the sabatier process, and end up with salt and an explosion.
That is a bit optimistic :-)
The potential energy per gram of mass is much lower than for coal burning in Earth's atmosphere -- worse, the kinetics are so sluggish that you would need a very large vessel with good insulation to build up a useful temperature differential.
You'd also need to concentrate perchlorates from the Martian soil before they would sustain combustion with methane. Assuming that was done, though, perchlorates plus hydrocarbons will combust with vigor.
I think that was also at elevated temperature in a carbonic acid solution, so basically the fastest possible "weathering".
I read the paper you referenced, but it does not really add much? The key takeaway you refer to is probably the exothermic reaction enthalpy... we were discussing equilibria before this, so while a profound one, it is still a plattitude to point just at the exothermic nature as if at equilibrium all matter will be in the lowest energy state. It's still ~300K out there...
Somewhat less of a plattitude is to look at such a reaction and pretend we have a 2 level system (i.e. no other reactions occuring, no substep reactions). Let's take reaction number 2 on page 4 you mention:
1 / 3 Mg3Si2O5(OH)4 + CO2 → MgCO3 + 2 / 3 SiO2 + 2 / 3 H2O + 64 kJ/mole.
So lets call the energy of the "excited" LHS(left-hand-side)-state E1 and the RHS-state E0 the ground state.
Now to make a physical calculation we need integral numbers of molecules so I multiply both sides with 3:
Mg3Si2O5(OH)4 + 3CO2 → 3MgCO3 + 2SiO2 + 2H2O + 192 kJ/mole.
(The enthalphy per mole of reactions tripled because a single new reaction now converts 3 times the reagents as the original reaction)
So the LHS is 192kJ / N_avogadro higher in energy than the RHS for the specified number of molecules.
So for a simple 2 level System the partition function is Z = exp(-beta E_lhs)+exp(-beta E_rhs), from here on I will write B for beta...
The probability of finding the molecules in the LHS-state is P(LHS)=exp(-B E_lhs) / Z and similar for RHS...
The ratio LHS:RHS at equilibrium is P(LHS)/P(RHS) = exp(-B E_lhs) / exp(-B E_rhs) = exp(-B DeltaE) = exp(-B 192kJ / N_a)
= exp(-192kJ / mole / (N_a k_B T))
since B = 1 / ( k_B T ),
= exp(-192kJ / mole / (R T))
since ideal gas constat R = N_a * k_B = 8.314 J / mole / K
= exp(-192kJ / mole / (8.314 J / mole / K * 300K) )
So the right hand side does indeed look very much preferred
But this calculation assumes not dissolving in water.
This paper does not propose dissolving the resulting mineral carbonate in water, they propose burying it in the same mine the igneous rock was found!
I am still worried that simply dissolving it in surface water of the oceans means the CO2 can be released, or at the very least the CO2 in one of the dissolved species CO2, HCO3- or CO3(2-) are too bio-available... this may sound good, but if it is captured back into the biosphere it will be exhaled again by the organism (or its predator) pretty soon... grass clippings can be considered carbon sequestration, until you feed it to the organisms in your composting heap!
I would love to see numerical simulations of the chemical reactions, it would help sway those of us who understand how to simulate a set of reactions but have insufficient domain knowledge to know which reactions should be kept in mind.
The different competing entities that wish to get sponsored for such activities have a common interest to produce such a model or at least a list of relevant chemical reactions in the ocean and their kinetic rate constants. They could pool their resources to build this model.
If you are interested in modeling rate constants and mechanisms, the most interesting work I have come across is the Reaction Mechanism Generator developed at MIT and Northeastern University:
As you may be aware, determining rate constants from calculations is quite difficult even for gas-phase reactions. It's much harder for condensed-phase reactions. I do not have any hope of applying these techniques to olivine weathering at present. There have been quite a few small scale laboratory experiments on olivine weathering. There will be more factors at work in a real near-shore environment: abrasion by sand and wave action, biological activity, varying temperatures depending on the locale. I think that questions of rates need to be answered by field trials now; theory is inadequate and small lab experiments have already been done. But I still contend that this is not "simply dissolving" CO2 in ocean surface waters -- it is an acid-base reaction, with magnesium providing alkalinity.
Consider this (caricaturized) argument: suppose most artificial mummies are mummified humans, that does not mean most humans end up mummified!
please check out the sibling comment by philipkglass, the referenced text has a section on calcite compensation, and the previous section detailing the saturation horizon. At high enough pressure calcite prefers being dissolved again.
Consider a calcite diatom cap, close to the beach, since it is above the saturation horizon, it won't dissolve soon, now consider a diatom dropping dead over the mariana trench, so the calcite starts sinking, until it passes the saturation horizon, now the pressure is clearly high enough to prefer being dissolved...
Presumably one could add olivine in areas of the ocean that are far from coastlines, and spread it around in a wide area so local effects are less extreme. I don't know if dumping it in the deep ocean where there's less life to disrupt is viable, but if so maybe that would mitigate negative impact.
As one of those environmentalists, my qualm isn't so much that this may be dangerous but that carbon capture tech (and associated "carbon capture and storage") is often championed by people looking to delay implementation of technology and laws that limit carbon emissions. It is far more energy-efficient to curtail carbon emissions than try to capture it once emitted. The most efficient use of money is to do things like close coal power plants in favor of solar/wind. Once all the coal plants are gone, then is the time to focus on capture.
We need to find ways of getting this carbon out of the air.
Best would be if we could create actual products out of it, such as aggregates using advanced weathering like Blue Planet ( http://www.blueplanet-ltd.com/ ) or creating carbon based building materials like stones, insulation or others.
If we combine this with bio-energy we might find systems that are already profitable without carbon credits.
The future of the world is presently in the hands of pasty white men on Capitol Hill. Why not sequester their carbon (hot air) first?
It's not the first time I see a comment like "actually, a $critical-legislation is under vote this/next week somewhere". It feels that the important cases lack marketing.
It is news, though. It is the second time that a carbon tax has been on the Washington ballot. It may pass this time around.
It's just infuriating that a $100/ton tax could fix the problem in a perfectly reasonable manner and government has their head in the sand.
Here's a right wing source: https://www.heritage.org/energy-economics/commentary/un-clim...
> To accomplish such a feat, the new IPCC report proposes an energy tax of epic proportions. It claims that, to keep warming in check, by 2030 we’ll need to impose a tax of between $135 and $5,500 on every ton of carbon emitted. And that’s just for starters. By the end of the century, the authors say, we’ll have to jack the tax up to as much as $27,000 per ton.
The denialists have stalled for so long that it's too late for anything except drastic emergency actions, and then they complain that the drastic actions are too extreme. Personally, I think we're doomed but we owe it to future generations to at least try.
“Individual DAC plants can be placed in any country and in multiple climates, and can be built to capture one million tons of CO2 per year. At this large scale, our technology will be able to achieve costs of $100-150 USD per ton of CO₂ captured, purified, and compressed to 150 bar.”
At $100/t, capture technology would become widespread very very quickly as an arbitrage against the carbon tax. And yes, some emitters might find a more profitable way via reduction in emissions, but since capture is equivalent to reduction, the most profitable option will win out every time.
This is the magic of carbon taxes.
Some of the future is in the hand on "hands of pasty white men on Capitol Hill". Other parts of the future are in the hands of more enlightened leaders.
Furthermore there is a question of what happens when deep ocean currents turn over the ocean. Does that CO2 come back out? We don't know. And that is the difference between solving the problem versus kicking it down the road for a few centuries.
But still environmentalists have moved to get all research into the topic shut down. Which I think is shortsighted at best. We have a big enough problem and few enough plausible options that I don't believe we should shut this one down.
It is possible that inefficiencies take such a toil that it stops being viable, but it's not the opposition that make people think it can have a large impact.
It was close, but it still came up short.
I don't like this reasoning because when it comes to environmental effects we've always had individual firm expectations but we haven't known, we didn't know and we still don't know.
But I do believe the growing crisis demands urgent research and gradual early implementation of a range of projects like ocean seeding, and others which may be opposed by a most skeptical portion of the environmental movement. But when there are doubts about the details of potentially massive eco-engineering projects, please dont write them up as 'qualms of environmentalists' The movement has broadcast for decades the crisis we face today, helped in many situations and hindered very few - it was never truly characterized by sentimentality.
Personally, I think a good compromise lies in resorting to algal blooms in a controlled setting.
Algal blooms have another advantage: there is already hypertrophication around farming regions where water bodies are polluted with fertilizers.
So the ideia is to build artificial reservoirs as buffers for algal blooms that not only pollute the water, jam irrigation systems and decrease biodiversity, but also as a means for carbon fixation. The algae would then have to be harvested, processed and buried. A fraction of it could be used to produce biofuels, thus reducing the need for fossil fuels, and for fertilization, which would reduce the usage of artificial, carbon-releasing fertilizers.
My only doubt is whether the scalability is interesting enough.
This to me smells like it could have potential unforeseen consequences like the Deepwater Horizon cleanup.
The argument that the action may be dangerous is not as compelling when the prognosis for inaction is bleak.
Message 1: yes, this could have unpredictable and devastating consequences in new and exciting ways, and you are directly responsible for it.
Message 2: (current message) we shouldn't do that and you're already doing enough because you have a more fuel efficient truck than you had in the 90's, and you use LED lights.
For most people, that's what's in the back of their head, I would argue. (note that I'm not agreeing with either).
How do you sell that?
The message in that CFS was pretty clear to me, it was "We aren't doing enough, and not doing anything will doom us to yet another mass extinction event." (they aren't as explicit as that but nearly all of the literature on "Phase 3" of this stuff has nearly everything dying off.
So the first thing to check is this, is that the message you heard in the linked CFS? Or did you hear a different message than what I heard?
Assuming you heard the same message, we can talk about the next place in the conversation where things may go off the rails, a comment of the form "We already know how enhance algae blooms by fertilizing the ocean." Which related to previous work on dumping ferrous material into the ocean to create an algae bloom that would capture carbon and sequester it.
And the response to that comment, the message I heard/read was (paraphrased) "How do we know what that will do in the long term? We should not make such a move without knowing the consequences of making it."
In my reading, that has been a common response to large consequential ideas such as the fertilize the ocean. So is that something you've heard as well or is the first you have heard it?
So the messages in that exchange that I've heard are
1) We understand the mechanism of phytoplankton blooms and we know how to create them, we should try that.
2) We should not try that because we don't know if creating such a bloom would generate a net positive result, and we don't know what intermediate results it might generate as well.
I combine the RFS message of "We're doomed, none of the current things people are doing to ameliorate CO2 gain in the atmosphere are working." with "We shouldn't try things if we can't predict the outcome." and come up with, "Inaction is worse than not fully understood action if inaction is leading to destruction of the world."
Now I often lose the climate deniers on that last bit. In their belief system as I understand it, it is not something we are doing that affects climate so there is no compelling call for action on human's part.
So, what part of the point did I miss?
As for "selling it" I am not sure who is being sold here.
In my response, I was making the argument against inaction, against the environmental argument of 'do no harm.' I recognize that doctor's admit that you have to poison your patient (which does great harm) using chemotherapy when they are suffering from cancer because the alternative is just watching them die. What the doctor knows is that once the risk of cancer is gone the normal processes of the body will recover the patient to a better state of health. The argument for iron fertilization is similar, which is that while it may do short term damage, by pulling the CO2 out of the air the Earth will be in a better place after its own restoration mechanisms have undone the damage.
Sadly, unlike cancer patients we can't do clinical trials on planets, we've just got the one.
In my mind, there are two responses to this: (a) regardless of the current state of public opinion, it's worth developing technologies that give us options, and (b) making the media environment healthier and more honest would be a big win, and strategies to make that happen are far more valuable but probably much harder to implement.
Look you raise good points but this is nonsense. The Earth has had far higher CO2 concentrations for geological periods and there’s no fossil record suggesting shellfish all died. This kind of Trumpian rhetoric just hands ammo to the skeptics.
Acidification is not caused by how much CO2 there is in the water. It is caused by a rapid increase in CO2 levels. We are dumping CO2 in very quickly, and so are acidifying the water.
But given time, oceans will mix down the to bottom. At the bottom it will encounter very large stores of calcium carbonate. As that dissolves, it renders the water no longer acidic. As that mixes back to the top the rest of the ocean becomes less acidic. This mixing process is estimated to take on the order of 1000 years. Therefore the long term the oceans can handle all of the CO2 we're dumping into them and much more. Increasing the long-term average CO2 of the atmosphere will not make the oceans acidic.
The problem is that this mixing process is too slow to help shellfish living near the surface today. Sure, the ocean winds up at a good ph. But it will be acidic for several centuries. And that is unprecedented. In fact there is no record of any event since the Permian-Triassic extinction over 200 million years ago that featured such rapid acidification as the oceans face today. And perhaps not even that one. We estimate that several times as much CO2 was dumped into the atmosphere as what we're releasing now, but it probably was not dumped in such a short time period. And that event wiped out an estimated 90% of all marine species.
Higher acid levels should mean most of the average stock will die, and the mutants which survive will eventually adapt.
Think of the George Carlin skit - the planet will be fine, just we humans and everything we know will be gone.
None of this is to discount the potentially severe (unknown, scary) risks, but I don't think human extinction is really in play due to a warming climate. The most serious risk I'm aware of is that high CO2 content in the atmosphere will interfere with human respiration. Evolution will handle this, just like it handled human beings living in the Himalayas.
EDIT: The Great Lakes are not land-locked either. They flow out to the Atlantic Ocean via the St. Lawrence River.
We're going to need them.
[Edit] I’m not being facetious. 40% of emissions are as a result of poor land management. We’ll need all the technological help we can get, but if we can’t manage land as carbon stores - not sources, we’re not going to win this race.
Planting tree is actually a great carbon removal technology. Unfortunately most forest owners in the world don't know or don't have incentive to care the about the carbon impact the forest have on the climate. Biggest reason forests are taken down is to grow cattle for beef. If you are working on a startup to reverse this we'd like to fund it too
Joel Salatin has done some great work related to this and collected decades worth of data.
So the irony is that we could grow more beef and pull carbon out of the air at the same time, only if we cared. But we don't, it's easier to slash and burn then to also take the environment into consideration...
I want this desperately to be true as someone who loves meat but everything I've read tells me it's not. There is definitely a nice symbiotic relationship that exists between cows grazing and grasslands but it is significantly more expensive to raise animals this way, and you can raise significantly fewer of them per sq ft.
The main issue with cows is methane, not carbon (edit: carbon dioxide*), anyway.
It is cheaper to raise them this way because you don’t need to buy corn feed.
The cows digest grass well. They do not digest corn well, which means corn fed cows produce methane and get sick, and don’t build the soil (sequestering carbon).
Definitely worth watching some YouTube videos and reading about it, it’s pretty fun and interesting.
Salatin's solution is to shift a major portion of the work force/economy into making sustainable food. It sounds amazing from a utopian standpoint but is a total fantasy.
Sounds like a win / win.
Although objectively it makes the most sense if we all eat less meat or even go vegan (in terms of bang-for-the-buck), from what I understand the methane problem is mostly a result of them not being fed a healthy diet.
Also, somewhat surprisingly, "free range grass fed diets" lead to more methane production then cows fed grain diets (factory farmed cows).
From same section of the article it was picked from :
"While increased use of grains in ruminant diets
reduces enteric CH4 emissions, there is concern that
increased grain production may increase the use of
fossil fuels for fertilizer, machinery, and transport,
resulting in more greenhouse gas emissions. Grain
feeding ignores the importance of ruminants in converting fibrous feeds, unsuitable for human consumption, to high-quality protein sources (i.e. milk and meat). Furthermore, high grain diets can negatively affect cow health due to acidosis. With escalating grain prices, the scope of further increasing the grain content of ruminant diets in Canada is limited"
Even ignoring CO2 cost, nutrition, grain availability and all other complications, what is required to show that grass fed diets necessarily lead to more methane output than alternatives - is a comprehensive study of the performance of all dietary options and supplements. I dont think that is setting too high a bar, to avoid arguing on sweeping generalization and loss of context.
Taste can often be regarded as ephemeral, while fast fattened livestock can be discerned to taste different and are considered inferior in most food celebrating cultures.
There is a possible health factor involved with grass fed (or mixed prairie for better) beef and dairy accumulating a markedly different spectrum of omega oils, which are debated inconclusively, but also formally studied and theorized to be superior for human consumption.
A focus on the strength of methane emissions seems increasingly common in discussions and magazine articles, while the long developed advice from the IPCC is that CO2 demands priority because methane clears naturally in a decade or so, and requires less action to avoid than CO2 output which takes much longer to clear.
My understanding of IPCCs focus on CO2, is that while methane reduction presents an opportunity to buy a few years time, the priority is to convince action on the hardest problem which has been created, is worsening rapidly and much harder to clear.
With traditional timber plantations we get the carbon in a load of timber mostly. Build with some of it, pulp and burn the rest. Timber plantations tend not to build soil either.
With relatively unheard of silviculture - the detailed management of mixed forest, the optimum efficiency of carbon absorption can be arranged with select and native symbiotic species, while producing wood and foods and building soil mass. In addition to economic (and atmospheric) services advanced management of mixed forestry and groves can tolerate and support ancient plant and animal species - for future generations - which have been critically devastated by the persistent strategy of individuating production goals.
We don't need to get any smarter at all, we need to get wiser. There is plenty enough grassland now, its time to grow trees.
Poorly managed grasslands that are under grazed leads to soil degradation. The answer seems to be intensive grazing followed by rest periods to allow grasses to use nutrients and grow.
More links in my post here https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18287434
On this ungainly subject of grassland vs mixed forest here, I'll just remind - two hundred years ago about 60% of the earth surface was covered in mature and native forest. The figure is less than 30% today. Most of the worlds fertile crops are grown on deforested land, on the soil which native forests developed due to ecological diversity and lack of erosion. Most of the grasslands which are used for grazing, don't have soil to support demanding crops.
If anyone is interested in keeping in the loop on progress: https://www.producthunt.com/upcoming/pledge-balance
I could see companies such as Patagonia, who have a strong reputation for prioritizing sustainability, potentially being interested in a service like that.
It seems tricky though to align the interests of your users, your customers (businesses, the ones who will actually be paying you) and the environment.
Which is not to doubt your intent, but is why I am skeptical of market-based approaches to solve a problem which is of the type (a problem of the commons) that governments can be good at (if they choose to be) and businesses struggle with.
Look 10 years out in the future though and I think it is easy to imagine 1) many more people care about this 2) the urgency they feel is increased. Can we start with the Patagonias of the world (there are many others) and build some traction? Can we make it something that young employees want and bring transparency to which companies participate? If it can give a slight edge to McKinsey over Bain for example, the cost is trivial.
[Update regarding above: no YC interview, which is understandable based on where things currently stand]
I'm in Australia and the geology of the Tasmania/South Victoria region is the best in the world for carbon capture using trees. Specifically it's the native habitat of the Tasmanian blue gum, the worlds fastest growing tree, and here it grows between 20-100% faster than anywhere else.
Is there any option for having non-US startups funded given that ego-engineering can't be done out of the Bay Area alone? I and the other co-founders have no interest in moving since we are already in the best place for what we are doing.
Happy to talk about it any time: ben at droneseed.com
Spending that money on intensive lobbying and forest advocacy in rapidly-deforesting countries could have an impact, too.
The trick, of course, is that neither of these techniques compound for the individual nor a startup. They are pure charity for the planet.
1. Automate tree/crop planting
2. Reform regulations stipulating that planting of trees/crops/plants should be required on any and all uninhabited lands, as a matter of "imminent domain" regardless of the land owner. Perhaps even as a tax incentive to land owners.
3. The development of a maintenance and management policy and system around all that is planted
4. In conjunction with the RFS for flooding deserts, develop a multi-stage water transfer to desert desalinization ponds, then to be used in irrigation of the tree planting efforts.
We already have autonomous farming combines with excellent ability to harvest crops and plant seed. They should be put to use at scale in panting trees.
Further, we could make an effort to employ the vast amounts of humans with little opportunity to be productive to build, plant and deploy a massive effort such as this.
We dont need to try to do everything with robots, when we have millions and millions of humans.
If we are so progressive and smart, maybe learning how to manage a labor force in the millions to accomplish a great work such as terraforming a desert is someting we should attempt again.
These guys use drones to shoot tree seeds in the ground.
Also regarding terraforming a dessert, I think one of the biggest problems with is the number of water needed in the area, but I do think that this will be a really interesting part of the solution. Maybe the increase of land prices due to the decrease of arable land might make such ventures more profitable.
There's a great ted talk about reversing desertification: https://www.ted.com/talks/allan_savory_how_to_green_the_worl...
Given that you need to do this once every 25-40 years (maturity cycle of the tree), is doing it with drones really that big a win?
Historically non violent direct action has been successful in changing politics (see womens suffrage, civil rights movement). This is the primary goal of the Extinction Rebellion http://extinctionrebellion.org
That's an interesting option, but I wonder how a company might sustain itself doing this.
Lease land to eco-friendly activities like zipline adventures or something?
Also sounds like a good reason for expansion of National Parks services.
Buying land and planting trees there will cost something like $2000 per acre and retain something like one ton of CO2 per acre per year (an order of magnitude estimate - depending on details both the cost and CO2 effect can be very different).
Industrial carbon capture at power plants can do that for something like 70$ per ton. That's much cheaper than forestry, but that's still not good enough. ycombinator is obviously looking for technologies that scale better than these existing approaches, something that might achieve large scale carbon removal at maybe $10/ton or less, at which stage the option "just pay a lot of money to reverse the effect of our emissions" might be plausibly considered affordable to our society.
And then you have a lot of captured carbon dioxide on your hands - next big cost is the storage/conversion.
IPCC summary on cost of forest sequestration :
> Estimates of the private costs of sequestration range from about US$0.10-US$100/tC, which are modest compared with many of the energy alternatives (see Table 3.9 and Figure 4.9). Additionally, it should be noted that most forest projects have positive non-market benefits, thus increasing their social worth
Let say you can have 100 000 trees per square km. If 40 trees gives you 1 ton of carbon per year then spending $25 000 gives you $10/ton.
If you want to convert not-woodland into woodland, then that limits you to farmland or pastures - because there's no such thing as "unused natural potential woodland", any potential woodland that's not used and left alone becomes actual woodland; any potential woodland that's not woodland only became that way when we cut down the trees and cleared the land because we wanted to use it otherwise.
Some countries are increasing the forestation as well https://www.citylab.com/environment/2018/01/northern-forest-...
The founders of Patagonia and The North Face brands did start conservacion patagonia together. 
It is one amazing project. 
"Doesn't concentrate wealth exponentially; BZZT rejected!"
At some point, we apparently forgot that wealth/power inequality itself massively contributes to environmental problems.
* If you have no political power, you can't defend yourself and your land from pollution.
* If a large portion of the society has no political power, a large portion of the society cannot defend themselves and their land from pollution.
* In a society with extreme wealth, the price mechanism can't "kick in" to protect increasingly-scarce renewable resources (ie saving a species from extinction). Donella Meadows gives a much better explanation than I can, using fisheries as an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMmChiLZZHg&t=18m48s
EDIT: after reading other comments on how trees arent the greatest solution, replace trees with the best option and tie it to a continent wide / global wide black mirror credit score system.
I've been researching what's involved in reforesting, and it looks like a ton of work and a non-trivial cost. And maybe not the most efficient dollar / CO2 ratio, but also something that has the nice side effect of having a living forest around. (And also the side effect of providing exercise, access to the outdoors, etc.)
Our company is working on these issues by trying to reduce demand for meat and seafood by creating alternatives to it, but I think the problem is so large it needs to be tackled from multiple angles. As you term it both Phase I and Phase II type solutions.
What worries me is that the Phase II type solutions are going to be mostly a political problem at least much more than they are technical problems, and political problems are much harder to fix than technical problems where the solutions can be market driven rather than based on international consensus. I think with enough creativity most Phase I type solutions can be market driven and be accomplished without achieving consensus.
The other thing with trees is that they aren't permanent carbon sinks in the way that coal underground is.
Wood will eventually rot or burn and release it's carbon.
Human beings have taken carbon in the form of hydrocarbons underground and released is into the C02 - O2 cycle in the air. The main way to solve this would seem to be putting it back into the ground. So, reverse coal-mining? Turning wood into charcoal and burying? These seem like necessary counter-parts to simply growing trees.
Trees newly planted now will net-absorb carbon for the next 50-100 years, exactly the time period when we need to bring the carbon balance under control until we have our energy used cleaned up and other technologies developed. When the newly planted forest matures, trees fall and rot, but new growth takes their place. So it doesn't release a large amount of carbon, but enters a steady state roughly carbon-neutral.
Are there issues with raising cattle on land with a trees spaced maybe every 10 feet or so? Does it have to do with herding the cattle? Feeding the cattle? Those I feel can be solved with technology, specifically IoT/Drones/Autonomous Bots.
It seems to me, if every livestock pasture in the world has trees every 10 feet, maybe less, it could have a pretty big impact. Combine the Apple orchard with the cattle grazing land. Use technology to efficiently operate both.
Edit: And speaking of cattle. I wonder if we can literally strap something onto the back of a cow that would be able to capture methane, burn the bio-mass, and collect everything to be retrieved later on and used/buried.
Cattle is one main reason, second one is clearing forest for industrial agriculture like soybean and palm oil plantations. Third one is logging for wood products.
Essentially they are all because of overpopulation and massively increased demand for these products.
Even if countries implemented carbon tax and carbon incentives like many have it doesn't change that we innovation. Modern cheap verification systems, Marketplace's like Nori.com
I really really wish YC would bring on a polymer, nuclear, petroleum, or materials engineer to help wrangle on these thesis-es on all things related to energy. [I'm more on the textiles side of polymers, but I'm here if you need me.]
Trees are not a great carbon removal technology, grasslands are much better as they aren't impacted by fires and droughts.
Grasslands sequester carbon underground whereas woody trees store it in leaves and woody biomass.
What you're saying is actually questionable in a non-stable climate which is what humanity has today.
I think it's really foolish to allow carbon pollution credits to be backed by trees instead of grasslands.
Also, bark beetles aside from droughts and fires are pretty onerous to tree populations.
Soil has a carbon budget but I'm not sure saturation is an issue - that's basically how grasslands work today
So why limit yourself to existing forests?
Instead of flooding deserts (using energy-intensive/land-intensive/wealth concentrating desalinization), we can re-green those same deserts, which restarts the "atmospheric river" that brings water to the interiors of continents. Isotopic analysis has revealed that trees powers the water cycle (by recycling rainfall that would otherwise flow off into the ocean) and causes 80% of Earth's terrestrial rainfall. Compared to desalination this is far less costly (downside being, it's harder for Nestle et al. to profit off it).
Yes Virginia, rain literally comes from trees! This partly explains why deforestation leads to desertification.
There's a nugget of a story in the Carboniferous being the result of a civilisation trying, but failing, to sequester carbon by burying trees and plankton.
Maybe if you were growing trees specifically for this purpose on degraded land it could work.
Someone want to engineer a tree with enormous, deep roots? Basically make the trees self-burying.
The tree already buries almost half of its biomass in the ground for you. And a lot of material goes through the food chain when the tree rots in situ. There's a big difference between regrown forest and converting prairie to forest and a lot of that has to do with quantity and quality of decaying matter on the forest floor. Dead trees are better than no trees.
Not all at once, though, and new trees spring up pretty quick. If you're replacing unforested land with forested land, you're still storing substantial carbon. Cutting down / burning an existing forest to plant trees doesn't work, sure.
This video makes me pretty proud to have graduated from UBC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHtdnY_gnmE
An extra reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DPp2NcnTb0
Sure, the individual trees will eventually die and release a lot, though far from all, carbon back again. But by then, new trees will grow and act as the storage buffer.
Regenerative agriculture is about harvesting sunlight (free resource), utilizing plants photosynthesizing abilities. Plants are a part of a larger ecosystem including producers, consumers and decomposers.
Plants exudate sugars feeding the soil microbial life, sugars from the photosynthesis where atmospheric carbon dioxide is converted into sugars. Large herbivores eat the grass, holistic grazing keeps the animals moving mimicking predators and the defensive herding mechanisms for efficient animal impact. The timed regrowth will let the plant photosynthesize more carbon dioxide, while the walking sun powered compost machine (cow) decomposes the organic matter and leaves it for further decomposition and utilization.
We have huge areas where desertification is happening  because of wrong management. Holistic Grazing is a easy implemented, low tech, approach with great benefits for capital, social and ecological level.
Regenerative agriculture is also covering land management in less brittle environments, field production, notill, utilizing plants, the soil community and the only truly free available resource sunlight.
Any carbon-based stuff you put in a landfill generally degrades to methane, which is 25-86 times worse than CO2 when it comes to global warming.
So recycle your paper :)
Trees (esp. those suitable for paper) either burn or fall over and rot, both of which release most of the carbon they used to store.
Fossil fuels used to be trees, and they were well sequestered. Paper would eventually become something similar when buried.
Fine, but by the same token, the absence of progress on climate change is because there is no political will, not because it is hard. With enough adults in the room, we could have solved this problem 20 or 30 years ago at comparatively little cost.
The prairies are amazing ecosystem pumping carbon into the ground when properly managed.
The knowledge is available, but this ted talk only has 2 million views. https://youtu.be/vpTHi7O66pI
As global warming devastates more of the biosphere, there will be perhaps less opposition to GMO plants engineered for maximum sequestration capacity. Also useful for Mars.
Maybe there is a good business in finding a good way to truly move old trees, so that we aren't forced to cut them down?
Trenching for the install may require more plant disturbance than would be needed to maintain nearby trees on a regular basis.
Distributed generation and redudnant distribution can help reduce the impact as well. Everything costs money though.
So, there is a ton of value to growing fruit and nut trees, not to mention hedge rows, vineyards, and other farmable plants, and then figuring a way to keep that carbon sequestered in the soil.
As you must know, trees accelerate their carbon sequestration as they get larger. Also, fruit and nut agricultural species are frequently not robust enough, fast growing enough, or zone hardy enough to be good candidates for this either.
Yes, trees have economical value. Trees an a AGW-countering scale carbon sink are not. I'm in favor of a carbon tax/credit system in part for this reason.
Definitely curious how hard it would be to have drones plant trees in arid regions. Feels like I've seen some related projects before
If I build a building out of wood, or print a book in a library, that carbon is sequestered at least as long as the building or book exists.