Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Negative Carbon Emissions (johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com)
93 points by biofox 23 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 87 comments

This starts to sound right and at the end takes the completely wrong turn when he says: "I especially like the idea of CO2 scrubbing for coal-fired power plants."

I actually believe this is the big risk of all Carbon removal and Carbon Storage technologies, and the one that always needs to be kept in mind: That they're used to justify the continuing use of fossil fuels. (This isn't theoretical. This happened around 10 years in Germany when many new coal plants were built, and when people brought up the climate issue a very common answer was: "Don't worry, we already planned to enhance those plants with Carbon Capture and Storage technology later." Of course the latter never happened. At around the same time Norway had very similar discussions and I'm sure it happened elsewhere, too.)

Yeah. You need at least as much energy to turn co2 into carbon (and oxygen) as you got from burning it in the first place.

Scrubbing coal powered plants takes away the whole point of the coal plant because you end up with negative energy.

Why would they even need to turn it back? I'm sure some of it might be salvageable but I thought the point was more towards just containing it.

Containing a yearly supply of tens of giggatones of a gas that has very little commercial value seems orders of magnitude less practical than actually avoiding producing that gas in the first place.

That's what geological storage is all about. After all, the carbon came from the ground in the first place.

The coal came from the ground. Not the carbon-dioxide.

Not saying that it's impossible or even impractical to store co2 underground. It just seems like a proposition that has a lot to prove.

People may have different motivations for promoting CCS (carbon capture and storage). However, the underlying motivations for a subgroup of those promoting a technology shouldn't be a reason for dismissing the technology itself.

I agree that CCS shouldn't be used as an excuse to continue fossile fuel use. However, as long as there are fossile power plants in existence (and we are necessarily stuck with those for a very long time), it makes infintely more sense to capture emissions at the source (the power plant) rather than spending energy capturing CO2 out of "thin air" later.

Moreover, there are a host of industries (steel, cement, chemicals) that would continue emitting large amounts of CO2 even if they switched 100% to renewable energy). To cut these emissions, there is no alternative to capturing the CO2 and storing it.

Looking at the figures, I would dare to claim that people against the use of CCS are not really serious about tackling climate change. (And by the way, the reason large-scale CCS has not yet happened in Europe is to a large part public resistance - I would assume that's a big part of the reason for those power plants in Germany too).

I agree with #hannob to a point.

I favor any approach that can be done now to make an improvement. We need to reduce, then eliminate atmospheric CO2 production and then get to reversing - removing it - ASAP.

It's up to us to make sure First Steps aren't seen as Only Steps - but that certainly doesn't mean we shouldn't take them.

Yeah, that 's one of those things in which everyone involved needs to be held to account - if the promise is based on CCS, then the plant must not be allowed to turn on without it.

Generation with CCS is not impossible, it's just .. uncompetitive with renewables.

Is continuing to use fossil fuels a bad thing, if it's in conjunction with sufficient cleanup systems? It sounds like in your example, the problem is the bait-and-switch from "clean CO2-neutral power plants" to "traditional coal power plants".

Stopping fossil fuel burning is always preferrable to carbon cleanup technologies. It's simply cheaper and easier.

Also "CO2-neutral coal power plants" is a scam. You'll always have emissions left. Digging up coal causes emissions (the coal is not alone, there's e.g. always methane coming up with it that you can't capture). No Carbon removal tech can remove 100% of Carbon from emissions. (There was actually a lawsuite because Vattenfall called one of their CCS testing plants "carbon free". They lost.)

You need about 1.5-2x the amount of coal to provide the energy for the clean-up systems. So you can expect politicians to "increase efficiency and reduce dependence on foreign coal" by turning them off.

Also, I can't find figures easily but it still wouldn't be as clean as solar, nuclear or wind.

Coal plant emissions contain toxic substances other than CO2. Also consider the fly ash disposal and the environmental disruption of mining.

So, yes, aside from CO2, continued energy production using coal is an unsustainable strategy.

The question is how you're going to cleanup CO₂, which is almost always energy-negative.

> Is continuing to use fossil fuels a bad thing, if it's in conjunction with sufficient cleanup systems?

You missed the point. The problem in the grandparent post isn't with the first clause, it's not even with the feasibility of the second clause.

It's with the "if". The "if" won't happen in practice. So that makes the answer to your question "no".

Exactly. The tl;dr of the article is: "I agree that carbon scrubbing is used to justify continued emissions, and that's not good, now let me advocate for carbon scrubbing and not talk about what we really need to do."

Let me put it simply: we need to stop burning fossil fuels NOW (move to renewables) and also have less kids (1 or 2 per couple). Anyone with the means should use solar PV, wood heat, electric cars, and reduce air travel to once per year. This means you most likely need to change from what you grew up with and what you know and how you live. We all need to change, our economy needs to change, and we need to acknowledge that as soo as possible; the lives of outer children depend on it.

The following open access publications give a broad overview of NETs:

Part 1: Research landscape and synthesis: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aabf9b

Part 2: Costs, potentials and side effects: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aabf9f

Part 3: Innovation and upscaling: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aabff4

If you are interested in negative emissions this is the best review paper I've come across so far that covers all various negative emission technologies, from trees and oceans to bio-energy with carbon capture storage (BECSS) and direct air capture (DAC). Highly recommended.

The article mentions this itself, but I think it's still worth mentioning that carbon scrubbing is hard to scale. IMO it's still better to work towards cutting emissions and finding sources of clean energy: in a very extreme case, assuming we can figure out how to get unlimited clean energy from fission/fusion/pushing baryons into the seventh dimension we can just pull CO₂ from the atmosphere and split it. Many of our problems can be solved with unlimited energy; clean water for example (just boil it!).

I feel very strongly that proposed technical solutions to de-carbonise need to explain the energy cost of driving CO and CO2 into carbonate complexes. If the proposal is to make something like methane clathrates in extreme depth there is a pumping cost. If the proposal is to inject into fracking and have it form complexes underground there is a pumping cost. Most carbon intense energy sources depend on big pressure drop across the turbine so there is little energy in the stream and the smokestack for the fuel is decoupled from the steam anyway so either there is a reaction energy (coming from where?) Or it consumes power being generated which reduces overall system efficiency.

I just don't get it: there is no free lunch burning coal to make heat to make steam implies combustion which necessarily makes CO and CO2 and it's in gaseous form. It's diffuse. So making liquids or pumpable gas expends energy and making to flow over a reaction surface to make carbonate implies back pressure on the flue gases.. it's just hard work.

Nature invented solar-powered CO2 scrubbers, they're called plants (and algae). We just need to not kill them everywhere. This is hard when humans have an expanding population, which is why we humans need to realize that we are now so numerous we are competing for physical space (Our housing and agricultural needs) against the very resources we need to live (forests and clean water and clean air).

It's not that simple. If we didn't kill any more plants, would the plants be able to pull CO2 out of the air at the rate we're producing it? I am not an expert, but I believe that the answer is no.

This is a thermodynamically losing proposition for a human industry - liberating carbon is enthalpically and entropically favorable. Sequestering it requires putting the genie back in the bottle, and where will the energy budget for that come from?

Fortunately there is a system to do this which dwarfs in scale pretty much any industry humans ever have and ever will come up with: photosynthesis. While 10 Gigatons of C is a lot, terrestrial biomass is ~600 Gigatons of C. The best strategy for reversing carbon emissions is letting the Earth soak it back up again.

Natural cycles are approximately carbon neutral; that is why Earth has not become an iceball yet [0]. Over the very long terms, some carbon can get sequestered, which is how we got fossil fuels in the first place. But consider how long it took nature to sequester all of that carbon. Now that we have reintroduced it into the system, there is no natural mechanism to just take it back out again.

We could change the steady state slightly by increasing biomass; but that would only offset the carbon added by the destruction of said biomass, and cannot scale beyond the available space (and all other natural limitations on how much life can be put in one spot).

If we did come up with a way for Earth to just "soak it back up again" that was based on seeding some type of organic and letting it work for us, I would be extremly concerned about a global cooling catastrophe. There is no natural stop point at the carbon concentrations we want, and if we overshoot the amount we pull out, we are in for a very bad time. (Not to mention the other environmental effects that the resource sink we introduce will have. I doubt carbon would be the only resource it hogs.)

[0] It did come close with the emergence of photosynthesis. At the time, photosynthesis was decidedly not carbon neutral, as there was no counter force to consume oxygen until the emergence of aerobic organisms. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Oxygenation_Event

Much of our carbon contribution comes from deforestation, soil erosion, etc. In other words, habitat loss and conversion. For example, there used to be forestation across much of the "Fertile Crescent" before we had our way. Manhattan was a thousand year growth forest before Europeans showed up. Removing the dead hand of man from the scale can do much to reverse this process; actively fostering reforestation (see: Dune) can do more.

We are over budget here - putting 1000 gigatons of C back is going to be tough. But putting a good chunk of that away is probably the result of something like: humanity stops eating meat and reduces its agricultural footprint, commits most of the earth to nature preserves.

I wonder why you're being downvoted, maybe people don't want to face the consequences of their actions. Though I think we don't need to be so absolute in terms of "stops eating meat," that's hard for people to handle. It would be easier to convince people and still extremely effective to reducing meat consumption to once a week and on holidays, like in the old days.

Photosynthesis is only about 1% efficient and you'd have to store the biomass in a form that doesn't decompose (e.g. as coal). It might be possible to improve this.

Mass production of biochar and use it as a soil amendment. Sequesters carbon in production, sequesters more in the soil as it encourages biomass formation and encourages even more as plants grown in such soil do better.


> Biochar is charcoal used as a soil amendment. Biochar is a stable solid, rich in carbon, and can endure in soil for thousands of years.[1] Like most charcoal, biochar is made from biomass via pyrolysis. Biochar is under investigation as an approach to carbon sequestration,[1] as it has the potential to help mitigate climate change.[2][3][4] It results in processes related to pyrogenic carbon capture and storage (PyCCS).[5] Independently, biochar can increase soil fertility of acidic soils (low pH soils), increase agricultural productivity, and provide protection against some foliar and soil-borne diseases.[6]

This passage caught my eye :

> Researchers have estimated that sustainable use of biocharring could reduce the global net emissions of carbon dioxide (CO 2), methane, and nitrous oxide by up to 1.8 Pg CO 2-C equivalent (CO 2-Ce) per year (12% of current anthropogenic CO 2-Ce emissions; 1 Pg=1 Gt), and total net emissions over the course of the next century by 130 Pg CO 2-Ce, without endangering food security, habitat, or soil conservation.

It feels like every other week I read about one approach which has the potential to save us from climate change, if scaled correctly. Suberin rich food crops. Autonomous ships that produce artificial clouds. Biochar. Painting things white. Olivine rock weathering. Greening the Sahara. I don't believe any of these solutions alone is going to save the planet, but surely doing several in concert would help

It is possible to improve the efficiency of photosynthesis by 25-40%. I wish I had a journal article, but here’s a news article about the process: https://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-more-ef...

That means you go from 1% efficient to 1.5% though.

> you'd have to store the biomass in a form that doesn't decompose

Which for everyone that doesn't know, this is why if even today we stopped net greenhouse production world wide the planet would still warm. Because there is biomass underneath the ice that will (is) be(ing) released as it melts.

The efficiency doesnt matter - solar inputs are ubiquitous and require no effort on our part.

This. Anything else requires energy input (and thus carbon emissions in the current situation), whereas plants are carbon-negative from the get-go, require no effort, and just work right now (no tech to wait for, just a few more years...).

Yes, plants eventually decompose and release the carbon, but every new plant buys us 10-100-1000 years until we have to deal with that carbon. The biggest problem now is finding land to reclaim with forest and preventing existing forest from being cut down (as pointed out in other comments, the mature trees store more carbon per area than new trees). In the end, our forests are competing against our agriculture and food supply (and growing population). Just like energy efficiency (home insulation and sealing) is the low hanging fruit of energy conservation, reducing the consumption and production of low-land-efficiency foods like meat is the easiest way to reduce agricultural footprint and make more available to carbon-sequestering trees.

>The best strategy for reversing carbon emissions is letting the Earth soak it back up again.

Not really sure what you're referring to, if we're being practical. The only proposal I've seen that uses your strategy is seeding the oceans with iron oxide to cause algae blooms. I don't really know if that's truly feasible (or desirable) but it is the only one I've heard that is an honest attempt at Geo-engineering our way out of this mess.

Didn't someone try this in Canada with disastrous results?

It’s been tried repeatedly. Iron isn’t the only limit on algal blooms, though it is often the most relevant. I think the main problem is control over which species bloom, partly to avoid toxic bloims near fishing areas, but also as you want something that sinks the carbon rather than floating it.

These are my thoughts: we need to water the desert and fertilize the oceans.

Use wind, solar, and biomass powered generators to desalinate water and pipe it inland. Pick locations that would have local positive rainfall feedback.

Pump oxygen into deadzones caused by nutrient runoff encouraging algal blooms. Either harvest it or let it die and sink to the bottom of the sea.

The problem in that solution is the "we" part. There is no global authority to take the responsibility or initiative, and nobody who wants to front the cost.

It's so stupid that we have the technology and knowledge to save our species and civilisation but our imaginary number system won't let us.

pardon the moonshot.. solar powered drone aggregating CO2 in the atmosphere ?

The article does a good job at keeping ideas within the realm of reality.

> I especially like the idea of CO2 scrubbing for coal-fired power plants. Of course to cut carbon emissions it would be better to ban coal-fired power plants.

I don't like this idea at all. It shows that at the current rate of action, global warming handling is a tragedy. It's a life threatening issue for billions of us, yet nothing happens, only insignificant changes.

I'm not sure I saw any ideas in the article, just a lot of hemming and hawing (just like your quote from the article), but no real actionable takeaways. What good ideas did ou find in the article?

PS: sandwiching is not appropriate when the positives are not relevant to the topic. For example: the author writes well, and though he presents no real point, he is polite about it.

Life threatening? Cold weather and lack of electricity kill far more people than global warming.

Currently yes, although it's not long before things are really going to change. I am not sure where you stand on this but here are a few things to think about :

I assume you heard of the 1.5C target from the COP21. Depending on the estimations we already reached +1, and there is a lot of inertia in the whole system, so it's just not gonna happen. It's all a political "aim high, think later" thing.

Without doing anything about the climate itself, thepeak oil and the people aversion to coal pollution will probably slow down our carbon addiction by the end of the century. Estimates for this scenario are within 7-12C. More optimistic scientific reviews, that assume we would give a fuck about it, are in the 3-7C range. Note that there are more centuries to come.

Assume we reach a rather optimistic 4C global warming. This is a worldwide average, and you may know that oceans trap most of the heat, so the air above the oceans will not warm up as much. To compensate, it means that the air above land will be a couple degrees hotter, say 6C, and depending on how the winds will change, some place will get hotter than others (for instance currently the Arctic region is already 2C warmer than ours industrial levels). So even in an optimistic scenario today the average year round temperature in some place could get to +10C. If nothing is done, I'm not quite sure, but it's probably safe to say that it will be +20-30C in some areas. Maybe this kind of temperature delta can make you think of the kind of challenge the next generations would face. Vegetation (food) would die during heat waves, mass migrations, etc.

When ice caps melt, the earth's albedo changes, and it reflects less sunlight. That's one of the mechanisms behind the transitions from an ice age to a warm age. The Arctic is currently melting at unprecedented rates, which means that the warming is unlikely to stop unless drastic changes are done.

Global warming causes sea level rises, through dilatation due to heat, and melting of on-land ice (greenland, Antarctica). Current warming is enough to make sea levels rise by 1m. This is locked in (unstoppable). Estimates vary but including future warming, it may rise by 2.4m. Bangladesh is the poster child for rising sea level dangers. It's not just about loss of coastal areas (40%), but also increased salinity in drinking water, less fertile lands. People will lose their houses and starve.

There's a lot more to global warming than this, and the literature is plenty. I invite you to discover it.

That’s like teetering on the edge of a cliff and saying, what’s the big deal, far more people die from heart disease than from falling off a cliff.

> Life threatening? Cold weather and lack of electricity kill far more people than global warming.

Global warming is as much of an existential risk to humans as nuclear war. The rapid changes are causing species extinction and, if it hasn't started already, will cause ecosystem collapse. We're still very bad at understanding things like complex food webs to see exactly what effects it will have

Right now they do.

I've read a lot of papers about negative emissions. My main take-away was: 1. It will be necessary 2. We can solve part of the problem with cheaper/easier solutions like trees and ocean farming, but we will need more technological solutions.

I think BECSS are difficult since it's still uncertain how the actual net carbon negativity changes when we change land to grow 'BECSS' crops/grasses. Also BECCS cost a land and water, something which will be a luxury when we are going from 7.5 billion to 10 billion people in 2050. With DAC we can actually set an upper boundary of the total cost of the negative emissions, which will only go down due to technological improvements.

What I do agree on is that we need to stop using fossil fuels where possible. I don't think every sector will be ready in time (airplanes and boats for example). However we can make synthetic fuels using direct air capture which are almost carbon neutral (look at the super work David Keith is doing with Carbon Engineering: http://carbonengineering.com/ )

> Also BECCS cost a land and water, something which will be a luxury when we are going from 7.5 billion to 10 billion people in 2050

This is going to be the biggest challenge. It's going to be a struggle to maintain biodiversity and stop deforestation while also trying to feed 10 billion people , especially with the overfishing currently happening with just 7. We'll have more mouths to feed and less fish to do it with. The only way we can realistically achieve this is by cutting out livestock, increasing fish farming and lab grown meat and building lots and lots of vertical farms.

How about this proposal - Carbon tax. Over 30 years it scales up to the cost of carbon-scrubbing. All of the tax collected goes to purchasing scrubbing (within the US only, and monitored for accountability).

How about putting it much more simply: you can either change to reduce your carbon usage across the board (and help everyone else to understand and do the same) or your children will suffer by your own fault.

That's a terrible non-solution. Your strategy is to hope that every single person independently chooses to reduce carbon usage?

It has to be government mandated. And most of the carbon is by COMPANIES not individuals.

That may work in China (maybe), but I'm afraid it doesn't stand a chance in the US--probably still the biggest CO2 emitter overall and certainly the highest per capita.

No, my strategy is to spread this message far and wide, and encourage others to do so too, until hopefully enough people are convinced and choose to do so. I kinda went overboard with the comments on this one article, but I was inspired.

Sometimes I wonder if turning carbon-piety into a religion (or vice versa) would be the way to go. After all, the way I see it, the defining characteristic of US conservatives, who generally oppose individual actions and government mandates to reduce carbon, is religiousness. "Forgive me father for I have flown in an airplane again this month."

2 reasons that won’t work. 1) carbon scrubbing is a boondoggle and 2) we have 10 years, 15 at most to completely decarbonize, not 30.

That's such a counterproductive thing to say. You're basically shooting down the best plan mentioned because you think it isn't strict enough.

Why not say "Great idea. Maybe once it gets enacted we can set the timeline even tighter." You shouldn't infight when you're in the 5% minority, you're just weakening your team.

The market's not going to fix this one. Imagine if we tried CFC taxes and incentives for recapture to fix the hole in the ozone layer? You'd be wearing a lot more sunscreen. The answer is good old fashioned "make a plan and carry it out". Don't know why that's so hard to do anymore. Build the infrastructure to replace it, with public money, and then ban it.

I can only imagine how it feels to be an 18 year old in 2019, knowing what’s going to happen in your lifetime.

A lot of the social movements of the 60’s were ultimately based on the fact that every young male at that time had a draft number, and so the political struggle was personal and very real. I’m not surprised that young people are starting to treat climate change in the same way. It’s different when it’s your life that’s on the line.

Being 18 anytime between 1948 and 1988 was worse. People forget that everyone expected a nuclear war to kill all of us in a way that makes climate change seem like a nice relaxing day at the beach.

The difference is that avoiding nuclear war just required not nuking each other. The default climate path is toward catastrophe.

We needed to be taking urgent action on global warming 20 years ago. Now, we need to take even faster action and also try to invent scifi negative-emissions technology.

I feel very sorry for young people. We've failed them.

What's worse, we failed them not because we're incompetent or unlucky but because we're greedy. It's malice.

I wouldn’t worry too much. They’ll have HoloLens 2 soon.

I was 18 in 1984 and I never met anyone in my entire life who expected nuclear war.

Anyone with an interest in science already knew about global warming in 1984. And politicians from both parties haven’t done jack about it ever since.

You had to have really been out to lunch in 1983 if you were not at least aware of The Day After and its impact and controversy.


Global warming is underway right now. It’s not a TV drama.

and here’s Sting from 1985:

How can I save my little boy from Oppenheimer's deadly toy? There is no monopoly on common sense On either side of the political fence. We share the same biology, regardless of ideology. Believe me when I say to you, The Russians love their children too

I was 23 and living in York and we were sent "protect and survive" by the government, to ensure we understood how to conduct ourselves in the event of nuclear war.

> I was 18 in 1984 and I never met anyone in my entire life who expected nuclear war.

Where did you live then? If you want to convince yourself this was actually a thing you can watch "threads". That was not remotely seen as some kind of remote science-fiction story back then.

Relevant and good article about climate change and politics in the 80's https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/08/01/magazine/clim...

That is not true. I was (and am) obsessed with science and the only thing I heard about then was global cooling because of carbon (as in smoke, not carbon dioxide) pollution.

The main fear back then was toxins of various kinds, from smog to nuclear to pesticides.

I agree with you that nuclear war was an earlier fear, 1960's.

Back then the concern was cleaning up the environment. CO2 was never mentioned. It was about air and water pollution, and garbage on land.

I would just like to remind everybody that nuclear war is still a major threat! It didn’t evaporate with the USSR, despite how people act. The US and Russia still have thousands of warheads ready to go at a moment’s notice. The numbers are down substantially from their peak, but the arsenals are still large enough to thoroughly wreck civilization.

I’m constantly baffled at how everyone acts like nuclear war is a historical curiosity.

This is not to take away from climate change, which is also a major threat. It’s not either-or, we should fix both.

I remember first hearing about it in the early eighties, this was through the national news in the UK.

It's true, but I'd suggest there's a scale difference between fighting a human enemy and planet scale thermodynamics

I feel like this article wrongly assumes that the switch from coal to alternative would take a very long time and presents a nifty graph of total energy use.

The reality is that current policies worldwide favor coal for many reasons - most of which boil down to self-preservation. If a switch in policy was enacted quickly, that chart would see a dramatic rise in alternative energy sources. The trick is enacting self-harming policies that limit economic prosperity while ensuring the other guy does the same. This is where international agreements come in, which some countries ahem simply ignore.

What is the ultimate solution? I don’t know, but it feels like we need a huge shift in political values that put climate as the one and only issue that matters before all else. This would require and educated public willing to put aside other policies that they may disagree with. Ultimately we are probably doomed because our individual self-preservation will trump our collective well being (however flawed this view may be given that we are all living on the same rock).

Lots of discussion here, but is anybody here working on a negative emission technology that might help? Would love to hear about it!

We’re working on carbon negative industrial hydrogen at Charm Industrial, and we’re hiring: https://www.charmindustrial.com/about

I've definetly come across charm industrial :). What is your plan on the negative emissions part? Underground CCS or do you have utilization plans?

Overproduction of biochar relative to closed loop heating needs, and underground CCS.

Couldn't we achieve negative carbon emission simply by build all houses from wood?

Cut down all grown trees and replace them by young ones. The houses act as carbon sinks. The young trees capture more co2 than the old trees. Easy.

Takes little technology, but does take up land. Probably we need all alternatives too, but this seems low hanging fruit to me.

Afforestation is part of the solution but even if we would plant a lot of trees and not use them, this solution does not scale. Current most optimistic estimates think trees can sequester 600 GtCO2 by 2050 max while most estimated think this is around 100 GtCO2 or less. We'll probably need around 1000-1500 GtCO2 of negative emissions.

So yes we need to plant more trees, but we also need to pursue other negative emission technologies such as ocean fertilization/ocean liming, soil carbon sequestration, direct air capture and enhanced weathering.

The theory that young trees capture more CO2 than older trees has been debunked as far as I know. The best carbon sinks are older large trees: they grow at lower rates height-wise, but faster mass-wise, sequestering much more carbon. A single large tree might add the same amount of carbon to a forest within a year as is contained in an entire mid-sized tree, I’ll add some sources later

I read once that the highest density of living entities on the planet, measured in weight per surface area, are the Sequoia groves in California. That is, the mature ones that escaped logging. Now, I'm not sure we can consider the entire tree to be alive, but relevant to this discussion, they are almost entirely composed of atmospheric carbon, tons and tons of it quite literally.

In all practicality though, I think sequoia and redwoods are more difficult to grow and have limited climate tolerances (an issue when the the climate is changing). I wonder if go fast-growing tropical trees such as albezias or others would be better. But we should also be looking for 3-4 ideal trees for each climate zone or better yet, trees adapted to several zones.

A tiny gateway into cement replacement: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cement#Green_cement

The best negative carbon tech that exists are trees and plants. It's not future tech it's already here!

Yes. However it only works when trees grow and are not burnt after (use in construction for example). I will try to find sources if you're interested but basically this solution (planting forest & not burning wood) does not scale. You'd have to cover very large areas with trees (losing land for agriculture btw). To push it further as the amount of land is limited this can't work with a scenario of growing emissions. It's clearly interesting to mitigate the problem though.

We don't need to scale up if the developed countries agree to scale down consumption. Reducing commuting (working from home when possible), have taxes on airplane travel, tax goods that come unnecessarily from far away, invest in durability. This is not scyfy solutions sorry to disappoint

Sure, and the UK could have a 4-hour work week if it halved it’s manufacturing and automated all its services.

Annoyingly, people don’t follow such oversimplified economic models. (If we did, free market economics and communism would both be ‘right’).

Well they are both "right" in the sense that they have different premises and optimise for different variables in the economy. They both work in certain circumstances and not in others. There's no such thing as a perfect economic system that magically solves all human problems, but that doesn't mean that there aren't gradations of how good one is compared to another, given a set of things you want to achieve in a society.

Capitalism has advantages and disadvantages, and the same is true for communism. If, however, the variable you want to optimise for is carbon footprint, then clearly capitalism is the wrong tool for the job.

Also, models are a perfect representation of reality, but since we can't possibly capture all the data inherent in a system as large as our planet (or Solar System, or the Universe), it's pretty much all we have to make sense of the world.

Wetlands and algae or pond plants are even more effective than trees.

Though yes, generally, biological carbon fixation is highly effective.

australia made the news about billion trees project, I wonder how many similar ideas are being rolled out

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact