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Atmospheric Carbon Sequestration?

  1. May 1, 2013 #1
    I recently saw a documentary about our energy usage and how we derive our energy. Obviously it was a pessimistic viewpoint but I think it might actually be true (It's called Blind Spot, I recommend it). One thing about it that spoke to me was that people don't worry about climate change because "the smart people will find a solution." I've unconsciously held this attitude as well until I realized that I'm actually at the level where I could be and quite possibly am one of the "smart people" those people refer to. Being a "smart people" I feel somewhat obligated to try to, for lack of a better phrase, stop humanity from killing itself.

    After a long conversation with some friends about how, in the oh so many ways, we are screwing ourselves my friend mentioned the idea of, if anything would stop the planet from becoming a death trap, it would be carbon sequestration. He then went on to say that with the stage that it's at now, it's almost hopeless. Almost.

    So my question is: Is he right? Could carbon sequestration undo the damage that has been done and is being done? How likely/unlikely is it to become a feasible solution?

    If it's not feasible, are there any other things that could save humanity?

    Edit: Just realized I probably should have posted this in the 'Earth' section.
    Last edited: May 1, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. May 2, 2013 #2


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    Hi denjay. Planting trees is atmospheric carbon sequestration. When the tree matures, it can be harvested and squirreled away so that its cellulose doesn't get broken down and carbon dioxide returned to the environment.

    You could store the lumber under deep water or ice, or you could turn it into charcoal and store its carbon in that form. It is very tempting to use it for construction of buildings, but this would be, at best, only a temporary sequestration.

    IIRC, a recent discovery that some crops manufacture microscopic grains of carbon around their roots suggests that growing and better managing particular food crops is a process that converts CO2 into inert C granules.

    There is no reason to be pessimistic. The greatest contribution any individual can make towards the environment is to reduce our extravagance, waste, and consumption of most consumer goods & services.

    It is not beyond us. [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  4. May 2, 2013 #3


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    Gold Member

    Climate change threatens all of us and our entire planet. Yes, carbon sequestration would certainly help diminish the threat. The below website gives real time measurements, causes of climate change and global warming, and world-wide effects.

    We can all reduce climate change by doing our part to decrease the emission of heat-trapping gasses to the atmosphere. Read below to learn some more facts about climate change:
    http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/urgentissues/global-warming-climate-change/help/facts-about-climate-change.xml [Broken]

    Do not operate in a vacuum: there are many special interests, each with an agenda, who would distort scientific data to further their goals. Inform yourself:

    We need people like you to find ways to mitigate the emission of these heat-trapping gasses. We need innovative solutions that, for example, could remove some of the gasses already in our atmosphere. Perhaps you could help develop cost-effective alternate energy sources (clean and green). And more. Why can you not contribute to solving the problem?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  5. May 2, 2013 #4
    It would be very hard to remove the CO2 that has already been released into the atmosphere during the industrial age by burning fossil fuels. Over geological times, the carbon from decaying plant and animal matter was sequestered within the earth in huge quantities, and we have been releasing all this carbon to the atmosphere. We couldn't plant enough crops and the earth does not have enough land area to recover all that CO2 and re-bury the carbon. There are no significant chemical or physical sinks for CO2, so whatever has been released so far is going to stay in the atmosphere for many thousands of years. But, our big hope and challenge is that we can do something about decreasing and eliminating future releases.
  6. May 2, 2013 #5


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    You are right, it would be hard to remove the CO2 from the atmosphere. Hard does not equal impossible. I suggest we do not simply "slam the door" on the proposal. Maybe some innovative new idea could allow us to harvest some measurable quantity or scavenge enough to make some difference. How can anyone be so sure it could not be done in future?
  7. May 2, 2013 #6


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    Staff: Mentor

    Thread closed pending Moderation...

    EDIT -- This thread has been moved to the Earth forum and will remain locked. We do not currently allow threads that discuss global warming. We wish we could, but we do not have a subject-matter expert on staff who can Mentor threads that discuss global warming.
    Last edited: May 3, 2013
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