Good News About Global Warming

Chances are you’ve felt a bit discouraged by the global warning reports.  On the one hand, they say that our world is in for trouble unless we make significant changes in how our global economy produces the energy it needs to function.  On the other, they tell us that even if we shift totally over to clean energy tomorrow (not likely), the troubling warming trend—and polar ice melts, flooding of coastal areas, and increasing droughts, hurricanes and severe winters—will continue to accelerate for the next 30-50 years.  The damage has already been done.

Or has it?  The ideal solution would not just reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, but to remove some of what has already been pumped into the atmosphere.

There are two interesting developments along this front.  First, researchers from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Iceland are perfecting a technique which would mix carbon dioxide captured from the smoke stacks of a power plant with water and hydrogen sulfide, and then inject the mixture into basalt rock—a substance which makes up about 70% of the Earth’s crust.  The result: 95% of the carbon solidifies into stone, due to a reaction between the various ingredients.  In effect, carbon dioxide has been turned to stone and stored away securely—more or less forever.  Currently, in Iceland, the local energy utility has been pumping 5,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year into underground rock formations.

Of course, that’s a small drop in a very large bucket: currently our various industrial processes release more than 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year.  But if each power plant had its own recapture facility, that figure would come down dramatically.

Meanwhile, a company called Global Thermostat is testing a carbon capture unit in Silicon Valley that could suck carbon dioxide directly out of the air, reducing our global carbon footprint and potentially reversing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.

ca-2016-9-4-good-news-about-global-warmingThe unit, which looks like a giant dehumidifier, would be attached to a power plant or factory, and be powered by the residual heat of the facility itself.  Large pipes would bring the power plant’s emissions into the unit, while external intakes would suck in the outside air.  The carbon is captured from both sources, rendering the plants “carbon negative,” reducing carbon dioxide in the nearby atmosphere—and cranking out a pure enough form of carbon to be sold at a profit for industrial uses, including plastics, manufacturing, biofertilizers, biofuels and soda pop factories.  All but the fuels would keep the carbon sequestered and out of the atmosphere.

The test unit can extract up to 10,000 tons of carbon per year, which means the world would need roughly 3 million of them to offset the current level of emissions, and many more if we want to start scrubbing the atmosphere and addressing those scary future projections.  The company envisions attaching these units to power plants, and also creating farms of them in remote locations to start the long, difficult process of undoing the environmental damage of our energy economy.

Sources:

http://www.theverge.com/2016/6/10/11901368/carbon-dioxide-capture-storage-stone-climate-change-study

http://www.oregonlive.com/today/index.ssf/2016/06/scientists_turn_carbon_dioxide.html

About Objectively Speaking

Tom Batterman, founder of Vigil Trust & Financial Advocacy and Financial Fiduciaries, LLC is in the business of representing the best financial interests of his clients. Having provided objective, fee-only financial management services for over two decades, he specializes in managing the investment and related financial affairs of individuals and mutual insurance companies who do not have the time, interest or expertise to manage such matters on their own. As an objective, unbiased professional who takes on a fiduciary responsibility to his clients, he guides clients to the financial decisions they would make themselves if they had years of training and experience and the time and expertise to fully research and understand all of their options. Founded in 2010 as an outgrowth of Vigil Trust & Financial Advocacy, Financial Fiduciaries, LLC is a financial management solution for individuals and mutual insurance companies who recognize they do not have the time, interest or expertise to properly attend to their financial matters on their own. While there are many financial “advisors”, most of them have investment products to sell and the “advice” they provide is geared toward getting their clients to engage in a purchase. As one of the rare subset of advisors known as “fiduciary advisors”, Financial Fiduciaries does not sell any investment product so its guidance is not compromised by conflicts of interest which plague ordinary advisors. Prior to his employment in the financial industry in financial advocacy and trust positions, he worked at a private law practice in the Wausau area in the areas of estate planning, tax, retirement planning, corporate organizations and real estate. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the UW-Madison Law School and has during his career held Series 7, 24 and 65 securities licenses. A longtime resident of the Wausau, Wisconsin Area, Tom is active in the community. He enjoys golf, curling, skiing, fishing, traveling and spending time with his family.
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