User:Hetmann/Biophysics 101 2007/Past Ideas

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Recent MSNBC article, published 16 March 2007, which outlines 4 proposals for carbon sequestering.


  1. Geritol plan
    • This is the plan that Prof. Church mentioned in class.
    • Involves dumping iron to increase stocks of natural plankton and algae.
    • Planktos Inc. sent a ship out to the Pacific ocean to dump 50 tons of iron dust.
    • Mentioned in the 2001 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as one possible solution.
    • Problems:
      • Biomass increases, but CO2 sequestered may be limited.
      • Toxicity to organisms?
        • Counterargument: Planktos CEO Russ George claims that the amount of iron injected into the oceans is much less than the amount currently present.
      • Potentially affects sea temperature and local fauna & flora.
      • Political implications: International agreements regarding the oceans.
  2. Atmospheric Sulfur Injection
    • Proposed by Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen and by Edward Teller.
    • Plan consists of utilizing jet engines, cannons or balloons to infuse sulfur into the atmosphere.
    • Doing so decreases the temperature of the Earth.
    • Problems:
      • Sulfur is the main component of acid rain, which was fought against pretty rigorously a decade ago.
      • Temperature decreases are only temporary.
      • High cost.
      • Does nothing to alleviate the main problem: overabundance of CO2.
  3. Sun Shades
    • Brainchild of Roger Angel.
    • Proposal to place a cloud of spaceships between the Earth and the Sun to reflect heat.
    • Angel claims that this project is equivalent to reducing 2 percent of the sun's effect.
    • Problems:
      • High cost: The Earth is very big and a spaceship is very small - Estimated cost: $4 trillion over 30 years (1/3 the size of US national debt).
      • Technological limits.
      • Close Encounters of the Sixth Kind.
      • Does nothing to alleviate the main problem: overabundance of CO2 (again).
  4. Air Capture
    • Instruments coined as "artificial trees."
    • Use of air filters that sequesters CO2 using chemical absorbers.
    • Captured CO2 would be converted into a liquid or gas.
    • Problems
      • Expensive; less expensive technologies exist.
      • Pollution due to leakage.
      • Storage issues.