You see it all the time, about how we must limit Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere to save the planet. But is the real objective to limit CO2, or eliminate it? All over the world CO2 is being removed by different mechanical methods, and here we will attempt to discover what the actual objective is.
All photosynthetic plants require environmental carbon dioxide in order to survive. The internet seems to dance around the subject of how much is needed for photosynthesis. One figure I found is 150 parts per million (ppm). (1) It is sufficient to say though that green plants require a certain amount of CO2 in order to perform photosynthesis, the life giving process that we depend on for food. Some however want CO2 either severely reduced or even eliminated altogether, and this is called terraforming. According to American University in Washington, DC, a variety of methods for CO2 removal are available. Some like improving wetlands and planting forests would be beneficial for the environment. Others however involve mechanical means for removal, such as machines or spreading CO2 absorbing rock. (2) It is the mechanical removal of CO2 that we are concerned with here, as it could be potentially dangerous to plant growth.
At the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI and ETH Zurich, researchers are looking at ways to effectively remove CO2 from the atmosphere. The method that is described is direct air carbon capture and storage, where CO2 is directly removed from the air, and stored in underground facilities. Fans blow air over an absorbent layer, the CO2 is removed with an effectiveness of up to 97%, and the process continues until the absorbent is “full”. (3)
One thing that is limiting Direct Air Capture is the cost. This again uses mechanical means to remove CO2 from the air, and stores it underground. It is very expensive, but according to DW.com this could be reduced by mass production of facilities to remove CO2 from the air (4). Mass production could mean removing CO2 to unheard of levels. The site does not mention what an “acceptable” level of atmospheric CO2 is. That will be our next emphasis.
What is an ideal level of CO2 in the atmosphere? According to MIT, it is between 280 and 350 PPM. Their argument is based on the rise of civilization and the levels of CO2 while this was occurring. (5) Next, we will try to establish a target that the carbon capturers would like to achieve. Put simply, what is their goal?
According to Columbia University, the target goal should be 350 PMM, based again on the rise of humanity. (6) That seems reasonable, but what is the actual goal of CO2 removal? I went on an EU site looking to see if there was a targeted level of CO2, but I found nothing. (7) They seemed more interested with production and cost, and did not present an objective goal. This is what should worry people, the lack of an actual target. Try asking the question online and it will get you nowhere. Another site wants “historic” carbon removed from the air as well. Once again, no specific target has been mentioned. (8) A target suggested by universities has been suggested, but try to find a target from the actual carbon capture industry. More power to you if you can.
It might be possible that the answer does not lie with carbon removal itself, but with simple greed. The carbon credits industry is an up and coming thing which will tend to be extremely lucrative for billionaires who fly around in expensive private jets, while telling the little people to car pool and ride bicycles. (9).
We can only hope that common sense prevails. Were a technology to prevail that could effectively scoop almost all of the CO2 for the air, we could be looking at the death of the planet. In a world full of vagaries, it’s hard to tell what the objective is. We could wind up on a greener, cleaner planet. We all want that. The alternative though is frightening, the total elimination of CO2 for an undisclosed nefarious purpose. For the time being, it does not look like that will happen. Let’s hope not. I just would like to know why this planet is being terraformed, by who and why.