Dioxycarbophobia makes people propose the stupidest things

Could we geoengineer the climate with CO2?

Schemes for artificially cooling the planet can often seem wild and woolly. The latest such geoengineering scheme is no different: it involves frozen carbon dioxide, Antarctica and a whole lot of freezers. While the proposal is not as daft as it sounds, the numbers may not stack up.

Ernest Agee and colleagues of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, propose installing gigantic freezers in the heart of Antarctica, where temperatures are already tens of degrees below zero. Once the air inside the freezers is cooled to -140 °C, the carbon dioxide within it will freeze out as “CO2 snow”. The solid CO2 could then be stored underground.

Agee’s calculations suggest that it would be possible to remove 1 billion tonnes of CO2 per year this way, using the energy provided by 16 wind farms, each generating 1200 megawatts of electricity. “There’s a lot of wind energy in the Antarctic,” Agee says.

Our annual greenhouse gas emissions reached 33 billion tonnes of CO2 in 2010, and are likely to keep rising for years to come, so Agee’s proposal would only go so far. The sheer scale of our emissions is a problem for similar concepts for sucking CO2 out of the air, such as fertilising the ocean with iron.


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2 responses to “Dioxycarbophobia makes people propose the stupidest things

  1. I don’t recall quite where I found this, but CO2 has risen by about 77 units since the Industrial Revolution began. Humans have contributed 11 of those units. It seems absurd to worry about the human contribution of 13% of the delta to a greenhouse element of limited and diminishing power. CO2 seems to be almost entirely a natural product; the human production is a small marginal element.

  2. Actually, about 6 years ago I saw a chart on discovery.com listing all world countries along with their “greenhouse” gas emissions from “human causes”. The industrialized nations were at the top of course. They totalled it up and it was a number larger than the national debt (surprisingly). Then the rest of the story…in printing the size of the copywrite ingo and just above it was the disclaimer: the amount of annual greenhouse gas emissions from ALL sources. I’m no scientist nor a mathemitician. Turns out I didn’t need to be. Human activity accounted for slightly under 10% of total annual greenhouse gas emissions. So why should we stop all industrialization to reduce our so-called “carbon footprint”, which even Gore and Van Jones admit would make a less than 1% difference, when the planet is contributing 90%++ of the emissions? Why is it only the “man made” emissions causing a problem, if indeed there is a problem.

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