(Please pardon this poor quality machine transcription until we can manually edit it to be perfect.)
I'm David Torcivia.
[0:00] I'm Daniel Forkner.
And this is Ashes Ashes, a show about systemic issues, cracks in civilization, collapse of the environment, and if we're unlucky the end of the world.
[0:12] But if we learn from all this, maybe we can stop that. The world might be broken, but it doesn't have to be.
[0:32] Predict significant warming sea level rise and ice melt by the end of the century with current admission rates. And the ipcc as you have pointed out in the past David is conservative in their estimates. I just about every model prediction they have included in the reports of the years have been Shattered by reality. Arctic sea ice for example has melted at a rate of 13% per decade. Which is way faster than any previous prediction and similar Trends are occurring with sea level rise with global temperature and many other Global processes that we have assumed. In the past would be problems for Generations much much further in the future.
[1:14] The consequences of global climate change are being felt more dramatically and much much quicker than we are prepared for. And what this means is we are facing more frequent and longer droughts. More intense heat waves more numerous and more destructive weather events like hurricanes floods storms and the Fallout of all these changes include things like increase wildfires. As we discussed before but also General increase in stresses with some All Points of our Global Systems. Is it things like supply chain power grid infrastructure and even our food production.
[1:48] These changes have been driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases mostly from the burning of fossil fuels but also significantly from our impacts on natural systems activities like deforestation have contributed much to these chain.
[2:07] Destructive change in climate is through a reduction of omission something that we have continually failed to do miserably failed. Global emissions of greenhouse gases has continued to rise annually despite any advances in Energy Efficiency and alternative fuels that we have come up with in fact these Advantage May themselves be contributing to increased emissions. A moral hazard concept that will discuss at some point later.
[2:35] Because we are failing so miserably at the only thing that could actually save us that is stop burning fossil fuels, more and more effort is being put into developing technology and ideas for directly intervening in the climate. And these ideas are crazy things like shooting trillions of robots into space to physically block the sun's rays.
[2:55] But before we get into the specifics of some of these crazy ideas David this idea of human-caused climate change is nothing new it's at least a hundred and twenty years old but what's so interesting is how this idea has changed over time. In 1896 there was a Swedish scientist named savent are henness and he pioneered the idea of a greenhouse effect on the earth's climate. And asked if changes in atmospheric CO2. Could cause changes in temperature and he theorized that humans could cause a change in the global climate through the burning of coal. Although at the time in 1896 we were contributing about 0.1% of the total CO2 in the atmosphere so he assumed this change would take place over a thousand years. The five years later another Swedish scientist Nils ekholm theorize that in the future humans could avoid the onset of a natural Ice Age by producing CO2 and raising the temperature. And in the 1950s American scientist Harrison Brown optimistically mused. The increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide could stimulate plant growth and increase World production of food.
[4:05] Little did any of these scientists know that was in a couple of generations humans will be dealing with such dramatic consequences of pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The new and startling ideas for altering the climate we're being driven by the desperate desire to save us from ourselves.
[4:23] Daniel I was I read an article and it was the question it said well if there were civilizations that occurred on the past and on Earth and I'm not talking about the recent past not thousands of years ago not tens of thousands of years ago.
[4:43] Cave paintings skeletons ancient technology in the ground.
[4:48] Yeah okay so fossils or something with that we come across but I'm in the world a big place there the odds of coming across fossils or things are slim and a lot of our society statues temples and I'm going to last on a geologic time scale.
[5:01] Especially not anything built with our steel-reinforced concrete which only lasted all 75 years.
[5:06] Yes after we discussed so I'm in this question also nobody comes well if there are people looking back at us some other intelligent creatures a hundred million years from now what are they going to see in the timeline the history of Earth. Will they notice anything. This question ultimately comes down to it as well our impact on the environment and all this carbon dioxide that we're putting into the environment the carbon that were burning from are fuels will this have a geologic impact. The Earth is deposited and Tiny carbon Novelties teeny tiny little spheres. There's blanket at all across the Earth and it's because of burning all this fuel it since he's aerosol carbon into the air and they're slowly deposited all around the world and this shows up and core samples whether that's Rock weathers ice but you can see this as a worldwide Global phenomenon. And in fact it turned out this isn't the first time that this is happened. So 65 million years ago give or take well there's also a global deposit of these tiny carbon nodules except at that point, we know it's because that asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs will it slammed into the Yucatan Peninsula and ignited, it will reserves underneath the ground they're firing into the air and depositing these aerosol eyes carbon fuels all across the world very similar to what we're doing now and of course we know what happened at that time but, that's the Legacy were leaving behind.
[6:16] So what you're saying David is that climate change is a naturally occurring phenomenon.
[6:23] Yeah exactly ultimately what would take it away from this but it is something that I want introduced as a concept for the show is that our actions even though they seem small at the time do you have profound. Facts on the earth even on the geologic time scale and the choices we make when they are magnified in the right way will they have big effects on everything around us and that is the concept of today as we delve into this topic which is of course geoengineering.
[6:49] And actually David recently some scientists they don't like the term geoengineering as applied broadly to some of the things that we could be talking about but prefer the phrase climate intervention. Engineering and Plies a very scientific and control approach where most of these things that we could be talking about are basically just. Gamble's that we have no idea what the consequences would be or even if they would work.
[7:14] That's the kind of stuff I like to hear as being proposed for solution.
[7:18] And as a funny aside if you try to search anything geoengineering related are you get a whole bunch of conspiracy stuff.
[7:26] Yeah I'll just like HAARP weather altering conspiracies and videos and things or chemtrails.
[7:32] Which incidentally something's going on that we're going to talk about as one of these proposed solution so not necessarily from Planes as you might expect.
[7:39] So like you said our emission of greenhouse gases has a big impact on the earth that's what we've seen that initial, scientist in 1896 assumed that that impact would occur over a thousand years but because our output of a mission has increase so dramatically. And because of certain feedback loops in the climate that we did not anticipate. The change has been much more rapid and now we're facing a situation where you basically have two ways that you can try and deal in adapt to this change in climate. And that is you can try and mitigate the output of the missions, so that means reducing the burning of fossil fuels reducing the amount of carbon dioxide that we put into the atmosphere switching to alternative fuel sources and then you have direct, geoengineering or climate intervention where you try to put in place a technology or a practice that will counteract the climate consequences of burning fossil fuels.
[8:34] And it's usually from either directly blocking the Sun or trying to bounce more of the Sun away from the Earth or eliminate some of the blanketing features of a clouds or something but, this is all stuff for me to get to in a moment I also want to point out that some of the best research that we did on this project was from a couple of movies may be seen them before day after tomorrow and geostorm they're excellent scientific looks at geoengineering on a major scale, I highly recommend checking them out for the up-to-date factual analysis from Hollywood my favorite part of movies when they drop bombs on a hurricane to make it. Disappear that's the future.
[9:09] Today let's talk about some of the practices going on right now that I literally happening to try and alter the climate in some way.
[9:17] That's a great way to start this conversation because a lot of these things sound crazy or possible but physically they all did a few decades ago but some of these ideas are actively being put into place right now so before we look at some of these dramatic, Cloud Seeding
[9:29] climate changing Earth changing projects I want to look at something just smaller. And this is a local weather manipulation program and it's slowly getting larger in China's to point a very large version this program at the moment and that's cloud seeding. This is an older technology goes back decades and we have a pretty decent understanding of how it works right now typically it's been done most notably recently during the Beijing Olympics, where we would fire Rockets into clouds either containing salt or silver iodide or variety of other similar mixtures what these dudes that goes into the clouds and encourages Cloud development by dropping the chemicals article. That encourage crystal growth of the water in the ice in the clouds making it all come up and then eventually get too heavy and brain, we know it works so you can get expensive to do it any continuous nature but there's a lot of research being put into how to make this industrial and its scale and when his program that's happening is already being deployed in western China right now. So long the Himalayas there at high altitude they're building basically chimneys that are these two or three meter tall smokestacks that burn fuel and silver iodide releasing that silver, and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and there's already 500 of these diploid and they're planning several thousand more and if it goes really well that number will climb into the tens of thousands, any idea is to, cause all this smoke to go into the atmosphere developed clouds and Rain across the deserts that are normally in the rain channel to the east of the Himalayas have a traumatic impact on the total rainfall occurred in China increasing it by as much as 7%.
[11:00] Which is tens of billions of Hector's of water every single year. What is local a small-scale program we're all we need this locally for Crop Production or something, scaled up to this Industrial Level will that starts bordering on the edge of these climate change initiatives and geoengineering projects that were going to discuss. This stuff is already being put into place and it doesn't take a huge amount of investment but it does have enormous effects or the people downwind of these programs. Albedo
[11:28] That's interesting David creating clouds to make it rain but there's a much broader way at which seeding clouds can alter the climate besides just increased precipitation.
[11:37] Yeah that's right in the big thing and then one of these major concept that allowed to eat geoengineering programs or revolve around is the idea of Albedo and say something we talked about in the pathway back in her very first episode and what Albedo is basically how reflective a surface is. So a white or shiny or silver material is going to have a much higher Albedo then something that's dark and absorbs a lot more than energy and this is important because the sun is constantly shining down on the Earth. It's a meeting all sorts of energy deposited on it and if we don't bounce that back up and out into the atmosphere will then it gets trapped. In our system and contribute to that climate change and this is why greenhouse gases are such a big problem they capture the some of that heat that would normally be bouncing back out into space and it said reflected back to Earth catching it trapping it. An increase in the energy and temperature of the planet as a whole but if there's High Albedo so say see icebergs dark ocean water. Well the sea ice reflects a lot more energy up into the atmosphere and while those greenhouse gases are capturing some of it more of it ends up going out into space but a dark ground weather that's Ocean or dark trees or asphalt. Well that captures more energy than it reflects and it's much better at keeping that he on earth and the lessee that bounced out while more of its trapped by greenhouse gases and exacerbated this problem.
[12:55] And these Albedo effects. Can have a big impact especially in the short-term there was a volcano that erupted in the Philippines in 1991 its bed out about 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere which reduce the absorption of sunlight and I had an immediate effect.
[13:18] Wants that effect is over with the warming comes roaring back which is an interesting consideration when we talked about the idea of stratospheric aerosol injection.
[13:30] Stratospheric aerosol injection that's a very complicated name but it is in fact literally just trying to copy what that volcano was doing naturally. Stratospheric Aerosol Injection
[13:39] So volcanoes when they wrap a name it all this Ash and other particles and chemicals into the atmosphere what a lot of that is like Daniel mentioned to Sulphur Dioxide. And sulfur dioxide is special chemical it is really good at reflecting the sun back into space and of course it also in great enough quantities, at least acid rain which is its own beside problem but what are the ideas that we suggested for geoengineering, is that pay we just suddenly start pumping tons and tons of the sulfate aerosols things like sulfur dioxide carbonyl sulfide sulfuric acid, yeah that's right sulfuric acid directly into the atmosphere what we can reflect a lot of the sun's energy back into space. And yeah we're going to get some acid rain but when we do this Devil's math here single what's worse climate change or acid rain. Well you know maybe a little acid rain will be okay if it means wrong not going to be 5 degrees Celsius in a few decades, and that's the kind of math that we end up having to do a lot but basically we would be pumping tons of this sulfate into the atmosphere we're through planes by inserting it into fuels Cantrell crowd that was just for you. Or these things like the chimneys that China's built or other technologies that were still discussing the idea is basically let's just make earth shinier by pumping the stuff here and consequences be damned. And it works really well for a couple of years but it's something you have to constantly output it dissipates quickly. Just like that volcano in the order of two to three years so it's a ongoing process and if you stop then you get very rapid sudden warming because the energy that would have been building up its only all coming in at once. Cirrus Cloud Thinning
[15:10] I think it's really interesting this concept of creating clouds in order to block sunlight but I think it even more interesting kind of related idea to this David is what's called cirrus cloud Benning. Cirrus clouds are these high really cold clouds that they do reflect sunlight but because of their certain properties they absorb more radiation. Then they reply to they actually have a net warming impact in there's this idea that in addition to creating clouds what if we can somehow dissipate these higher cirrus clouds are absorbing one. This method remains hypothetical and it's pretty interesting actually why I was surprised to learn that we don't actually have a good understanding of how ice forms in the atmosphere. Here's a quick science lesson for you David okay so when you fill a glass with water and then expose that water to H2O is freezing temperature you get ice right.
[16:03] I feel like you're tricking me once more I'm always set up as the rube on these things but it keep going.
[16:08] Is it was this is not a trick you're absolutely right but the reason this happens the reason why water freezes at this freezing temperature is because your water is not pure.
[16:16] Well I know it's build a plastic butt.
[16:18] Right well that plastic or any other material these are solid particles that are in the water and because he's particles active seeds, hi this is where the word seating comes from in the phrase cloud seeding the solid particles they act as seeds but at the right temperature they set off a chain reaction of ice crystallization in the water. Well this doesn't happen in the atmosphere because water vapor is usually pure there are no solid particles to interact with and set off this ice formation so what happened in the cirrus clouds for example is that a bunch of water vapor enters a supercooled state, below freezing temperature and then at around -39 or negative 40 degrees celsius somewhere around there particles just start spontaneously freezing. But if you were to introduce some kind of solid particle or seed to this water vapor. A supercooled water molecules would latch on or interact with a solid particle in a way that would set off very rapid ice formation.
[17:20] Aerosol seeds into the upper atmosphere. We can set off this rapid freezing and cirrus cloud and because of the rapid formation of ice the ice will consist of bigger particles that are more spread out, air less dense and the ability of the cloud to absorb the sun's radiation will diminish sounds pretty complicated right.
[17:40] Pretty slick but if you want to try this at home just to make sure that we're not making this stuff up. It's a pretty cool experiments you can do so take a regular bottle of plastic water put that in your freezer and then take an unopened bottle of distilled water and put that in your freezer. And leave it in there for like 2 to 3 hours you'll know it's ready when the regular bottle of plastic has totally frozen but if you look at the distill plastic bottle you'll see it's still liquid. We can take it out and you can initialize this crystallization in a couple different ways one of the phone with his just shake it and you can see the bottle literally freeze over couple seconds right in front of your eyes really amazing to see. And if that's not cool enough you can very carefully unscrew the bottle while still liquid with a piece of ice on a table or something and or the water down on to that ice and you'll see, the bottle freeze up from the ice into the bottle sort of midair it's pretty slick I highly recommend you check it out and that's basically all were doing except with clouds you can do it in your kitchen too.
[18:34] I've never done this I'm going to go do that when I get home. What surprised me is we don't understand really how this freezing Works especially when it relates to the atmosphere because it's very hard to measure the presence, and the velocity of these ice particles in these high-altitude clouds, and we don't really understand how the different properties of these solid seeds these particles can have, in this process of ice crystallization because depending on their shape depending on their size and the current temperature you can get really different results and there is this possibility that if you add too many seeds, you can have the opposite intended effect and actually create additional warming and I think this has to do with the fact that the way these ice crystals form, and the orientation that results can have a big impact. On the way they absorb and reflect sunlight so basically the idea is we don't really understand how this stuff works but we are seriously considering this now because like you said I mean this is a desperate situation we haven't been able to curb, are missions and as a result we're looking to crazy and crazy ideas to kind of intervene in the climate, even if we could figure out how to seed clouds perfectly and how to spin cirrus clouds perfectly. You have to keep it up indefinitely which means once you start this process you can't ever stop. Accidental Cloud Seeding
[19:48] Wilmington something sort of similar accidentally with airplane contrails right now again shout out to the chemtrail crowd I guess but when a plane flies it's a delicate balance cuz they burn a lot of fuel, a cross-country flight from San Francisco to Boston is going to release her passenger something like 1 to 1.3 tons of CO2 that's a lot of CO2 with a lot of potential, teacher global warming but at the same time while I was flying at these high altitude in that contrail it while it's creating what is basically a cirrus cloud and that has a net cooling effect. By reflecting some of the sun's energy back into space, and so if we were to suddenly magically stop all of our flights or convert over to a more responsible type of fuel saver we figured out electric airplanes if we could get that battery density problem solved, if we limited these contrails we would see a very quick and dramatic warming affect on the scale of .2 to .5 degrees C. And while we might have helped ourselves in a long-term in terms of global warming by reducing the CO2 in the short-term well we've got ourselves on an even worse position than we were in before.
[20:53] This actually happened after the attacks on the Twin Towers September 11th. So many planes were grounded around the world that there actually was a measurable increase in global climate immediately after which was quite surprising but it's not just plain stew I mean Transportation ships also have the same Albedo affect the emissions that these, big commercial ships are giving off actually creates their own contrails in the air that you can see from space and it's actively blocking some of the sun's rays.
[21:20] So this brings it to another one of our geoengineering topics which is Marine cloud seeding. Submarine cloud seeding is very similar to what's going on in the cloud seeding effects of China except at a much larger scale and it's been proposed as not a way to increase rain locally as a way to increase the world's Albedo, and lower our climate change problems and basically like Daniel said you could already see this happening right now, so you look at space you can see the tracks that large oil tankers are taking because they leave, Cloud contrails on it which is sort of funny to think about the ship doing but because of all the fuel they burn because of fuel is so dirty it releases a lot of aerosol particles into the atmosphere and that causes that nucleation like I know talked about and of clouds form around it. Will be idea is that what what if we put specific chemicals in there that are even better at creating these clouds we can cause a dramatic increase in how many clouds are created. Consequently also the Albedo effect that we are creating over the ocean. And there's been a lot of calculations done and while this wouldn't have an enormous effect on equivalent in Mission offsets it is something that's worth looking at because I love you Solutions aren't Carol. Cirrus Ayo we can fix things one to 3% or 10% or maybe even up to 30% and if we add all these things together with me then we can have a fighting chance if we also reduce our outputs overall, and that's a conversation we're getting a little bit but short version the story is if we did this we put these things out here what we could maybe find some climate change, but there are some local weather facts with this is been tested out unlimited scale turns out it's not as efficient when we scale it up.
[22:52] And the fuel that these tankers are already burning is very bad in terms of climate change perspective, and we're actually actively restricting that there's new regulations going in is going to change this bunker fuel is going to be burned as much or at all some places, and again we sort of got ourselves into a pickle here because this, that these ships already have is cooling us down you know .5 degrees Celsius maybe even more and what were currently actively trying to reduce this fuel output, and as these regulations going to factor going to see another immediate warming jump of maybe a quarter to half degrees Celsius in the short term because we're trying to fix this long to problem that is actually a sword, taking us in these the shorter time span so it's like everything is a balance and we're pretty bad at measuring that up.
[23:36] Positive I mean there's a lot of unknowns when it comes to trying to intervene and increase the Albedo effect on the earth through some of these seeding efforts there's not a lot of knowledge about if this was scaled up how it could impact the environment, there's actually some pretty good modeling papers that suggest that if you were to increase Albedo in the northern hemisphere, it would cause massive storms and drought in the Southern Hemisphere and vice versa making increase the risk of hurricanes and even there's a compelling argument that doing this on a large scale will, reduce ozone in the atmosphere which is really something we don't want to mess with right I mean we almost killed ourselves off pretty good with the ozone depletion in the 70s. But another concern when it comes to these Technologies not just Albedo related specifically but all of these is this moral hazard and some scientists are actually reluctant to even endorsing anyway these Technologies because what they say is if we endorse, Moral Hazard
[24:30] technologies that seek to intervene in the climate in this way. It reduces the incentive to do the most important thing which is reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. And this is not an unreasonable perspective because this actually happens all the time Marc Reisner, wrote in Cadillac desert in 1986 about some of the water policies in the Western United States and he argued how development created the need to conserve water resulting in these huge billion dollar Water Works projects dams, reservoirs all these things that would try to conserve water but ultimately just drove development even more.
[25:06] Because as people felt that we were conserving water they felt that they can get away with even more water use, it so he warned that the result would be long term environmental crisis and water scarcity as a result of these water conservation projects in 32 years later, you know he has not been proven wrong we have huge swaths of people living out west in the United States that, continue to experience increased conflict and hardship over water resources and eventually that water is going to run out turns out is pretty hard to build a civilization in the desert. And I think that these efforts and climate intervention could have the same effect they're buying us time and therefore we don't feel. As pressure to make the fundamental changes that we have to if we're going to survive.
[25:51] Yeah that means you were bringing up really great points here at the whole premise of the show takes one of these geoengineering options when what potential negative consequence is all them have it I mean to sort of silly in the end because we do have a very simple solution to all of this and that, stop burning fossil fuels it's easy there's no side effects.
[26:09] Besides destroying the economy Dead come on.
[26:11] Well I mean no maybe that's what I want. It's very simple it's a simple thing it's like when the doctor comes up to you and says stop smoking stop drinking it's killing you and you say I don't want to and you just keep doing it anyway you hope we're magic pill that will cure your cancer or regrow your liver.
[26:26] Look at what you mentioned it silly let's talk about some more of these ideas and let the listener decide for themselves how silly it is.
[26:33] Yeah I need to get gradually more crazy but everything we discussed you're seriously suggested by scientists and we're not pulling his out of like weird range things but these are from very dense, analytical text that explore these all the way down to the energy Returns the economic returns every single thing that was on here is very serious and there's a lot of time research and effort put into looking at these, so just keep that in mind as we go forward.
[26:56] With the possible exception of sending trillions of robots into space.
[27:01] Well let's not get ahead of ourselves.
[27:03] So continuing down the line of Albedo so let's talk about real quick the ice that's melting which does have an Albedo effect it's very white. Halting Ice Melt
[27:12] It reflects sunlight and this melting that's happening at both ends of our polls is reducing that Albedo and so there are some ideas being put forward on how to prevent these glaciers and they see ice from melting in the first place. Not just to improve our Albedo but also to prevent rising sea levels. So there was a researcher from Arizona State University and what idea that he's putting forward it's not original to him this is my dear that's been proposed before but I guess he's developed a little bit more if you guys decide to have building. 10 million wind powered pumps in the ocean which can be used to pump sea water onto. The arctic ice cap in the winter which would then theoretically freeze expanding the ice cap and preventing a suit.
[27:57] So good.
[27:58] And helping to reflection that sunlight this morning our planet and he put this forward in the Journal of the American geophysical Union and figures that it would cost of reasonable 500 billion dollars. Which I mean honestly is not that much when I mean that is a lot of money.
[28:15] Doesn't matter how you cut it that's a lot of money I love these sorts of ideas, nothing works at small scale so you have to blow it up two things so we just need 10 million pumps we just need one trillion robots and what's great about me is like so it'll just be wind powered like that's some sort of magic solution. System of Ulysses might also be serious fans of following what's going on in the Arctic and if you want I highly recommend checking out this place is called the Arctic sea ice forum and it is the de-facto, late online or in the world really disorder follow what's going on at both poles and what are the major things that we follow on this place is that there are number of buoys, that have been installed by various organizations up in the Arctic and their solar-powered and they are very small and simple, and they keep track of everything they have GPS barometric pressure to take temperatures they have little camera feeds they're just very simple things to help us keep track of what's going on in the ice and we can watch some fluid around itself and it is very hard to keep these very simple things running. They die a lot they disappear it's really amazing when one survives a couple seasons will root for them but the idea that you're going to.
[29:19] Go Bowie.
[29:20] Instead built-in million pumps that are going to function without any problems in the middle of the Arctic winter is so out of touch, with reality 500 billion dollars inside and I think that's really sort of a running theme of A lot of these Solutions.
[29:35] So David maybe the pump idea not-so-great will there is another idea related to palting sea level rise increasing the Albedo on these Arctic region, and as you know we here in America do love building walls and there's a. Glaciologist out of Princeton University that believes he has found the solution to rising sea levels to these melting ice formations and that is to go under water. Using submarines and in all this technology to build giant walls on the seafloor to block that warm water on the bottom layer of the ocean from reaching these glaciers and melting them from Below.
[30:10] Oceans building underwater walls to prevent glaciers from slipping into the ocean we are getting desperate here that sounds expensive.
[30:19] Call David the scientist still out on that one so maybe there's hope for us and giant walls under the ocean. Simulate Ice?
[30:25] Well in the same vein since we're talking about the Arctic and ice it one of these bumps or walls ideas don't work well if it's okay because we've got plenty of other ideas going one of them and maybe my favorite here is well we can, ice we can't make more ice we can't stop these glaciers melting but maybe we can emulate ice and that's either by, literally stretching a giant blanket across the entire Arctic of like white plastic to reflect the Sun, back into the Earth making your own virtual plastic ice I don't know what that might do to the ecosystem but my guess is not so good or if that's not enough, hundreds and thousands of blimps built over the Arctic massive blimps who have their own blankets to reflect the light back into the atmosphere, as you can quickly see once again we have the scale problem and we are definitely reaching for solutions that probably have worse effects for the local ecosystem.
[31:17] Also it's important to point out so we're about to leave this idea if I'll be dope but even if you could at a reasonable scale block enough sunlight from hitting the Earth to have a significant opposite of back on climate change. Addressing The Underlying Problem
[31:30] You still not doing anything to alter your output of CO2 and other greenhouse gases which is the underlying problem in the first place. Which means that the ocean will continue to acidify marine life will continue to go extinct are Global Fisheries will collapse and all the other negative impacts associated with CO2 emissions. Will continue to go on and I think that's just going to be a common theme with all these ideas is that. Any individual idea has to mobilize such a significant share of global energy just to make it happen and most of the effects are very isolated and don't get of the underlying problem.
[32:08] Well actually there is one of these geoengineering scale techniques that doesn't really need International cooperation or the funding of giant Nations or anything and what is a geologist actually that came up with this idea famously quit. Ocean Iron Fertilization
[32:23] Give me a tanker half-filled with iron and I can give you an ice age.
[32:27] Bold statement.
[32:28] Well with a dramatically like that you would got our interest piqued and of course this is ocean fertilization, and the basic idea is this researchers looked at the ocean and they realize that one of the major things missing for the growth of Plankton and phytoplankton of algae, is a lack of iron, and actually when they're big Windstorm is picking up sand or soil from Europe from Africa and depositing it in the ocean you see a lot of corresponding out of worms because his, iron the nutrients act as just that nutrients to the plankton, who sent me exploding numbers capturing lots of carbon dioxide providing food for the animals in the ocean and also unfortunately deleting some areas of oxygen as we discussed before, what the balance seem to be well this is a great way to capture carbon and we can cause a giant algal blooms on a scale of hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands of kilometers while we can suck a lot of carbon out of the air, it will be so much algae producing all this that has a lot of going to die it's going to sink down but there won't be enough animals eat all of it and release it back the atmosphere so a lot of it going to sink down to the bottom of the ocean and die in a hole. Carbon there for forever. It's actually it's really cheap, you can go buy a bunch of iron iron rust is not very expensive you just dump this in the ocean and you're creating very dramatic climate change affects or at least that's what the research initially showed and this has been tried a couple times. They're actually even a few companies that started based on this idea, saying that they would capture and sequester carbon in exchange for carbon credit money so if I'm in a place where there carbon credits I need to offset some well put I could buy these credits from these companies and their business model is based around that most of them have gone bust because it turned out this idea.
[34:09] Doesn't really work all that well like so many things that we find out once we start trying it and there's a lot of problems with it.
[34:14] And I thought it was kind of funny though why we would use iron ore or how that could possibly be a nutrient for Plankton and other smaller species but at the way I understand it David is, the really important nutrients for these small species is actually nitrogen and phosphorus but it would be so expensive would be so inefficient to dump nitrogen and phosphorus into the ocean, we already mentioned in our early episode about industrial agriculture help. Phosphorus has become a very limited resource that is going to cause problems for our fertilizing Industries. But I think the idea behind the iron is that it helps these Plankton uptake nitrogen and phosphorus it's already in the water the kind of ads like a nutritious, boost if you will.
[34:55] Iron vitamins and of course like everything just has problems, so it turns out that when these algae sink there's a lot more animals eating them than we initially thought and most of that carbon that we thought I was being sequestered well every integer is the system over the next few months to years, and it also deposits a lot of carbon directly into the ocean with maybe keeps that atmosphere but has its own serious problem, and we've established in the past and previous episodes as well and in the long-term it may turn out that that ocean acidification problem might be even larger than some of the climate change things were facing but time will tell with that. So and short it doesn't work really well ends up costing a lot more than we thought in terms of cost per carbon tan sequestered. But I don't think it's impossible to think that some companies going to come up with dr. numbers or numbers that look better pictures to some billionaire who wants to do social good and then next thing we know there's a bunch of tankers dumping all switches. Into the ocean. Leather doesn't really work that well but makes them look really good so if you're taking notes right now he'll on this sounds like the thing that's right up your alley a lot of show and not much to show for it.
[36:02] Alex David we're going to have to back that clean up with a lot more details if we're going to start criticizing Elon Musk. But it actually is interesting fishing David of big Tecna fixes and terraforming to solve our climate problems I think one of the biggest technofix is out there, Colonize Mars
[36:17] in terms of solving climate change is this idea of just colonizing Mars oh we can't solve our own problems on Earth here so let's go to a different planet and just settle there right.
[36:27] Well I mean in his defense in this is the only time I can ever hear me defending Musk, it's not entirely climate change solution that they looking for but if something apocalyptic happened to Earth outside of this planet stuff an asteroid Advantage gamma ray burst well then you would have a backup so to speak of Life somewhere else whether it's worth it or not, lets me be different today but you going sorry.
[36:47] There's a little bit of irony though David and the fact that we have a planet right now. It's got oxygen to breathe it's got gravity that's pretty good it's got water everywhere that we can drink and grow plants and do all the things that are necessary for life. If we can't make that work, we can't even colonize Antarctica which is warmer and more hospitable than Mars is what makes us so arrogant or confident that we can totally terraform a different planet to make it livable for human life.
[37:17] This doesn't really good points and this is a rant I really enjoyed I mean. I talk to people who say oh yeah I would love to live on Mars you be so cool I would jump on that Leon please take me away and then you say oh okay would you like to spend the rest of your life living on the top of Mount Everest. Because that's more hospitable than what you would have on Mars by a pretty significant amount as it's not like the movies you're not going to be growing potato out of your donkey or maybe you are and that would be your future there but there are a lot of things that we can't even fix here. That means that it's going to be that much worse on Mars but hey car in space so that's something.
[37:53] But David I took you away from your vital Plankton so I apologize. Let's get back to that. And you mentioned that this idea of dumping iron into the ocean could seem very appealing and we might see this happen. On a large scale in and that is concerning because just like some of these other, technologies that we mention like loud so there's not a lot of understanding on the possible side effects and consequences of doing this and so some of these possible drawbacks include the fact that, adding iron can stimulate a particular microorganism species that has been known to be toxic, and harmful to fish and other ocean organisms another possibility is that the into oh that is produced.
[38:32] Yeah that's right that nitrous oxide that is produced as these phytoplankton Decay and are rotting in the ocean well that nitrous oxide that comes out is a very potent greenhouse gas on the, order a hundred times more than CO2 which is part of the reason why this isn't so efficient after all.
[38:49] And could even counteract whatever benefit we thought we were getting from the CO2 that's captured by these organisms right there's also a possibility that there's a release of gas that can enter the atmosphere and stratospheric ozone, again something we don't want to mess with.
[39:04] At least side effects keep getting worse you know this sounds like again it reminds me of that example of doctor I need a pill to cure my my liver cuz I can't stop drinking alcohol while this bill has worse and more side effects as we go that ultimately also includes death. But let's keep going.
[39:20] Deoxygenation that we talked about in our ocean death episode well.
[39:24] We got the whole crew here.
[39:25] This iron fertilization could result in even further deoxygenation and of course a certification at lower layers of the ocean could take place as a result.
[39:35] Yes and that's a lot to think about but it does bring us through this idea of will these are techniques to directly remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and there are a whole lot of suggestions on just how to do that.
[39:46] This idea of capturing carbon dioxide from the environment is the ultimate thing that needs to happen in addition to mitigating our greenhouse gas emissions because they're simply too much of it in the atmosphere it's causing these feedback loops of warming, so ultimately if you're going to combat climate change. You have to reduce emissions and if you can't do that fast enough you need to start removing CO2 from the atmosphere from the environment and this is something that already happened naturally like those algae blooms in the spider Plankton that you just talked about. Less than half of all the CO2 that we have output it. Reforestation & Afforestation
[40:20] Is in the atmosphere most of it has been absorbed by the terrestrial and ocean environments and so a lot of these ideas revolving around hey how can we capture CO2. Are aimed at increasing these natural processes and making them faster such as.
[40:37] Such as why do trees I need a very simple straightforward idea but actually one that works really well, oh well at least to a certain extent and as we get better understanding, of how this technique works well we have a better understanding of how to go forward with this one of most encouraging areas of geoengineering research and that's because unlike most of these things this one has much more limited side effects at least if we do it right.
[41:03] The way we have altered the environment is actually played a very significant role in outputting emissions deforestation for example accounts for about 10% of all the greenhouse gases that we have admitted. So naturally one of the biggest ideas in capturing that CO2 back it's a plant trees like you mentioned it.
[41:20] We have a lot of notes on the section in the numbers it's are getting very specific still with 3.3 to 2.29 tons of CO2 per year blah blah blah and I don't want to get into that but the basic concept is if you plant forest in the right. Place then you can take a lot of carbon out of the air but there's a catch with that so the first is what I mentioned with in the right place turns out if you build Forest NC in the northern hemisphere, way up north where they would normally be large deposits of snow over the winter and reaching in his spring while the Forest has a lower Albedo than a snow-covered plain wood. And it actually ends up being in that warming affect rather than with the CO2 that we pulled out from that potential Force could be. So it's not a matter of just covering all of Earth in Forest what is in doing it the right place and then that's where we start running into problems in the limits of this technique because we have to balance our land use 9% of land is used for urban areas. Third of land to give or take is used for grazing or for agricultural use, and as we start telling out this land use while we're getting smaller and smaller amounts of land that we can use for reforestation and then a lot of this month already is forested and then again like we mentioned only certain parts can be used for this and so aren't upper limit of what, Land Management can do becomes very small compared to the potential of calculating out of Earth in Forest it would remove this much carbon from the atmosphere. And beyond that the forest only pulls out carbon while still growing for the first time once a fourth hits a mature steady-state. A few decades to maybe a century down the line will then it becomes carbon-neutral and we can't remove this Forest without impacting our total carbon load.
[42:58] So looking into the idea of forestation A4 station in combating this deforestation that we have put into place. I was actually a little bit discouraged because someone like you mentioned once before it matures the uptake of CO2 balances out with the amount of trees and detritus that is decaying and outputting CO2. So you get that neutral effect but then if you are so incentivize to cut that for us down for resources will now you just undone all the progress, leading up to the mature Asian of that forest and in some places the water vapor that these Forest output actually has a greenhouse gas effect and Kim. Again cause an increased warming and perhaps one of the most, discouraging things about this is the fact that maybe we're just too late for forced to have a positive impact on the climate because we've already warm to certain point, experiencing these droughts and as we discussed in Up in Smoke these mega fires are becoming more and more frequent well if we plant more trees. And we grow our Force but because of the climate environment we experience more Decay and these four seasons to fires or just dehydration of these plants when it's going to result in even more greenhouse gas emissions. But the biggest thing we can take away from this is that deforestation play such a significant role in output in greenhouse gases that perhaps the largest thing we can do to make a difference right now which of these established, cutting down our valuable Forest that would have a immediate near-term benefit it would be pretty cost-effective.
[44:27] It would be but you're also asking people to forgo the economic productivity of land so converting land to agricultural use or to Urban use is something that people do because if they're seeing some sort of. Return on that investment and what you're asking instead is stop, we not going to make any money from this land in fact we're going to take money from you either through taxes or through other programs like carbon credits to reforest this land and make it not economically productive and that's a lot, to ask from people who depend on these lands for their livelihood for better for worse and this is the kind of questions I'm going to have to ask with some of these programs, is this a union to forgo your economic incentives right now in order to protect our future that goes down the line whether that's the ability of your children to make money in the future because their environment has been killed them or even just arrived at all.
[45:15] Well I do want to touch on some of those economic incentives that you bring up David because in addition to the topsoil loss of experiencing with agriculture, there's quite a lot of CO2 that gets lost as well and soil can actually store some of this carbon dioxide Forest but it would involve a dramatic shift. In our agricultural practices right we would need to employ no-till systems and agricultural we would need to introduce more diversity in our crops systems and other Land Management techniques that could help intake carbon dioxide into the soil.
[45:46] I was really encouraged to read that these things that Chris had mentioned when he discussed, with us his farming techniques on ER episode what we reap a lot of them kept coming back in the scientific literature saying these are things we need to be doing right now to help with this carbon sequestration and that like Daniel mention is no-till agriculture growing crops that, help the shield Fields cuz Open Fields are terrible for loss of carbon so it's Christmas in costly keeping your soil covered and that's very important thing.
[46:11] Cover crops.
[46:12] And also questioning what crops were growing yeah cover crops adding that to corn or to two other fields were that normally wouldn't be the case, it's a lot of things Chris was talking to us about or actually being discussed in the scientific Community saying we need to move towards this. There's very little discussion on whether or not these techniques are compatible with the industrial Agriculture and being able to feed as many people as we need to.
[46:35] You mentioned how there's this question of whether our Industries are actually profitable and one thing we have to be careful as if say we here in the United States start deploying better practices and Land Management we start planning more trees adding Forest to the landscape. Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind
[46:49] And using less intensive agriculture that would be great for us here in the United States but if all it did was push economic incentives, outside of our country where instead of growing certain crops unsustainably here in the United States we're just putting more financial pressure on us a developing country, to export a crop that we're looking for here in the United States then we would ultimately really just be pushing these problems onto a a different system, we mention palm oil for example in our Wildfire episode and this is something again that gets labeled sustainable. You're in the west but over in Indonesia the practice of growing Palm for the production of this product isn't very sustainable it's actually outputting huge amounts of greenhouse gases from the the single-crop system in addition to all the slash-and-burn this morning on, so I think we have to again think about these things in terms of the global system as opposed to just hate. We did a good thing here in the United States we planted some more trees therefore we made a positive contribution but now we're just purchasing, unsustainable products from somewhere else and putting more pressure on them to develop on sustainable practices and harming their region.
[47:55] Right and I think you touched on and maybe you didn't even realize that you covered this but this is one of the major problems with this anti climate change work things like ipcc programs and that's the point where we have to do something cuz if not. The whole world's going to fall apart and sell all the solutions that are facing right now need Global cooperation we all need to reduce our emissions we all need to look at programs like we're discussing here. And it's geoengineering episode asking to do so our agriculture if like you mention if we could switch the world to know till that would have a dramatic effect. We're also at the same time when we doing this impacting the profitability of these industries making things more expensive making food more expensive and these developing countries turn to us and look and say you know what this is. United States China Europe east of the largest booting areas per capita in the world and they got to that because they didn't have to worry about. Climate concerns while they were developing they could just burn the world as they go. Why is it our responsibility now to make up for your problems while you enjoyed all the wealth from this. And there's not really good answer to that why is it fair for us to turn it to you have to do this because I've already taken all the profits from these, destruction the environment that's a balance is going to have to come forward and I think as these climate fixing to get more expensive as the climate problems get more expensive and of course he's developing nations typically are the most in, by these kind of problems are you going to seed especially in the next few years and places like Bangladesh Pakistan Egypt. Well these places are the ones that are most impacted by the policies were trying to enforce and we're really running out of good reasons of why they should continue to do this while we enjoy the benefits of this Globe Life production like you mentioned Daniel.
[49:37] 2.2 questions let's move on to another technofix that will get us out of this problem. Do. The Final Frontier
[49:43] So maybe one of the ways that the first world that developed Nations have profited from all this Ken payback is with the space Solutions because what we taking all this in come from the environment. Enabled us to have these highly developed technological societies and space programs and we're in a position where we could potentially very dramatically altered the Earth climate with relatively simple and in the grand scheme relatively affordable. Ace installations.
[50:11] So you're saying we do need Elon Musk after all David.
[50:14] Maybe I'm I'm eating my words already but yes the ideas of how did impact. Earth from space are such a great Pinnacle of the geoengineering conversation and the desperate nature of this conversation. I love you I love you guy Diaz because they're crazy and they're huge and they're basically the same exact things that a like really bad super villain will plan out in order to holding her hostage and every kind of situation were in. So he's all basically revolves around the idea that we need to block him with son is hitting the Earth and this is different than the Albedo affecting ones were trying to bounce a son back away from the earth in that we're just literally cutting the Sun from hitting the Earth at all.
[50:54] What you get doesn't do anything to address the fact that we're still out put in greenhouse gases and probably even more so if it's the top of your space and we're launching Rockets into the air.
[51:03] I mean to not CO2 efficient but it's not as bad as some people might think again here I am sounding like I'm just going to eat. Okay so the first group of these ideas is basically let's cut the sun down with some sort of sun shade or sun blocking device and the prices for these range, pretty dramatically as you can guess and I think honestly they rain so much really feels like scientist or just throwing out numbers hoping that they'll stay can someone be like yeah give you more Grandpa, the first one would be building basically a giant, solar shade using very thin material they're not really sure how they would keep it in position because it's on the solar wind is constantly pushing on these Giants tails in fact there's a technique of moving through space with giant solar Shades that use the Sun as basically, when's like we do on Earth with ships so it have to be constantly propelled and pushing away from Earth towards the sun very slowly and there's Giant, 2000 km wide 2 I mean enormous third of the size of the United States cutting down the impact of the sun on earth and the cost for a program like this has been estimated at 5, trillion dollars for 50 years worth of longevity the hope is that by the time that sale dies will have figured out another solution. And I guess this would actually be visible from Earth which would be kind of cool I guess sort of man-made artificial satellite up there, but it's crazy and they're not entirely sure what affects it would have if things went wrong here well that's sort of hard to get this out of orbit so there are other ideas there's a giant for Nolan's that seems like a bargain compared to this.
[52:36] Bathmate $10 up front and then another 10 billion dollars to maintain it over the lifespan of the device, and then one that gives us a lot more flexibility in terms of being able to just move around and make changes if the sunshade actually isn't working so well if it's a launch trillions of robots very small robots holding small Shades I can maneuver around. To LaGrange Point blocking the Sun from hitting the Earth we're cutting down on the impact of it again be there crazy ideas but it's not the craziest one.
[53:04] There's no cost estimate for sending robot to space yet because in order to do it you have to build a giant electromagnetic gun on the top of some tall mountain that would launch them into space and we haven't quite figured out how to do that yet.
[53:18] I don't know where they come up with these things that he's like well if we just made up a bunch of Technology then they would be totally fixed which actually I guess is a lot of what thinking Behind These geoengineering projects are but like I said this isn't the craziest idea for space.
[53:33] David saw the craziest idea regarding blocking the sun's Rays from hitting Earth is look we don't need to send robots into space from Earth what we need to do. Instead of factories on the moon that can manufacture glass directly. Using the lunar material and then as part of this whole thing we're going to manufacture a rail gun on the moon that can shoot this material, to the appropriate orbit around Earth and then we're going to symbol this glass into a giant Shield that will be crystal clear for a hundred years and therefore block the sun's rays and help keep. That warming effects from Impact in the climate. And the basic ideas hate we just need to acquire about 10,000 tons of material on the earth that will be the initial payload will launch that from the.
[54:28] Project management and you know if we do our job right. The cost of manufacturing these factories of managing this project and then getting this glass that we're going to magic to figure out how to manufacture on the moon will be about 5 trillion dollars, and you know the economic benefits of blocking the Sun's light will give this whole project about 10 trillion dollar value so we come out ahead at the end.
[54:49] I like that math let's do it I'll start the crowdfunding.
[54:53] Those are two researchers from the University of Arizona.
[54:56] That's in University what are they doing over there.
[54:59] Then she said figure out how to make the desert little bit more hospitable before we start building factories on the moon. Beccs
[55:05] Those are crazy ideas but some of these geoengineering ideas that like we mentioned the technology doesn't exist yet well they actually are being used actively right now in the ipcc projections of what we have to do. In order to stay under 2° C even with emissions reduction which spoiler alert it hasn't been happening yet so let's talk about these Daniel.
[55:27] When it comes to capturing carbon out of the air and sequestering at these are really the most developed theories on the subject and we have to talk about this what's called bio energy with carbon capture and sequestration orbax. Because they would like you said when it comes to predicting and modeling our ability to reverse climate change or capture CO2 will the implementation of the so-called negative emission technology, energy that. Actually sequesters more CO2 than an output release Technologies are built-in fundamentally to these models of the ipcc and other climate institutions are using to predict how we're going to address this crisis going for, so let's take a look at backs for a second.
[56:07] One thing I just want to point out real quick before we started this we are depending on this. Carbon sequestration in storage technology that doesn't really exist or doesn't exist that scale yet, but at the same time we're also ignoring a lot of the critical feedback that are most contributing to global warming things like methane contributions which because the ipcc could not model accurately they just completely left out. And is part of the reason why we're cousin seeing this more than expected faster-than-expected event, store depending on technology that doesn't exist ignoring things that are already happening in order to stay under 2 degrees see if we still reduce emissions.
[56:45] This is the basic premise we're going to grow trees and plants.
[56:48] Done we got that figured out.
[56:50] We got we can do that I mean kind of.
[56:53] For the next 60 years.
[56:55] Yeah well they're going to capture CO2 from the atmosphere then we're going to cut them down.
[57:00] Would we're really going to that one.
[57:01] Yeah but really go to that one we're going to double our transportation infrastructure to then deliver all this cut down material to power plants all over the world.
[57:11] This is so nice and expensive and energy inefficient but I'm still on boy let's keep going we're good we're going to building cars in flames.
[57:17] And ships so once this material gets the power plant we're going to burn the trees releasing all that CO2 that they capture.
[57:23] We're going to that okay we're really going to that.
[57:27] And then we're going to capture that CO2 before it can escape the power plant.
[57:31] We're not so good at that.
[57:34] Okay this is where we start to lose me on this program and again this is the key for the ipcc estimates.
[57:42] Yes Pacific I think it's assumed that we're going to be able to get about 50% of all Global energy from this method little bit less than 50% depending on which SMS that you're looking at Dubai 2050.
[57:53] By what year and that also includes a 70% decrease in emissions by 2050 and again 2017 well it went up again so we have 30 years to turn that around.
[58:05] Easy and a good day with obviously this sounds ridiculous and we touch down in that industrial agriculture episode about the inefficiency of biofuel and how it's actually pretty harmful. But it's easy to see for one. Where we going to plan all these trees where we going to plant all this material that were then going to immediately cut down and then somehow use that to fuel our Global energy infrastructure. It's got to be put into the ground and that means it's going to be competing with the land that we're trying to use right now intensively, to grow food for 7 1/2 billion people which buy whatever the year is that we need to do this is probably about 9 billion people right so there's some competing forces going on here that are both extremely important to our survival, one of the biggest challenges with this is that if we were going to set aside enough land to do this there's no doubt we would have to traumatically shift Global diets immediately. We're talking about no more meat consumption because pastureland I think is like double the amount of land that we use for direct crop growth soap you're going to have to get rid of all that land that you using to grow animals for food. Can't do that anymore so that's a big words that were certainly not on the right track right I mean meat consumption is rising traumatically especially in developing countries that have historically not had access to that and are now looking to emulate more affluent diets.
[59:22] We're going to have to eventually hit 1000 million Acres. Which is 1 billion and 1 billion Acres of arable land for biomass cultivation. What was that number that we had I think that's a little bit more than the total amount of Farmland in the entire United States imagine the entire us only growing plants that burn and that gives you an idea of the scale of this idea.
[59:46] And it's not so simple as just settings land decide to start growing these energy crops because. Land conversion is complicated land ecosystems established already have a bunch of carbon sequestered Wetlands old-growth forests understood grasslands. And if we were to try and convert these to start growing plants for energy what would be releasing a ton of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and in some cases they would take a couple of decades just to break even on that change in land use.
[1:00:15] And even beyond that well the carbon sequestration component of this technique, does it really exist right now I'm not at the scales in inefficiency that we need to make this a CO2 neutral or negative process, it's a right now as of 1 2015 estimate the best estimate for when this capture technology gets to a point that it's efficient enough to use in Beck's is 10 to 30 years out. And if you remember I timeline for Wednesday supposed to be making up a very large component over energy well that's also 30 years out. And this just doesn't measure up with any sort of realistic schedule of removing this carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. And reducing our missions in a responsible carbon neutral or negative way this brings us up to a technique called direct air capture and sequestration. Dacs
[1:01:02] And it's basically carry the same idea of Beck's capturing that carbon that's being released from Power production and it said same will if we could do it from Power production maybe we could do this anywhere and pull carbon straight out of the air. Unfortunately it's not quite as simple as that. The smoke and the the chemicals that are mated from Power production is very highly concentrated at least compared to the regular air. Carbon dioxide is much easier to pull out when there's a lot of it and having to concentrate carbon dioxide in any sort of scale in order to pull it to straight out of the air. Becomes well energy efficient and because of that this technique is very expensive on the orders of right now, pay range is a lot depending on who you're listening to if it's a startup they claim it's a lot lower than the rigorous researches indicating but on the orders of hundreds of dollars per ton and so that would mean to put in perspective a flight from Boston to San Francisco.
[1:01:56] Well you're looking at maybe $400 more per ticket in order to offset the carbon, if we were using this direct air capture and sequestration techniques it doesn't economy doesn't work on that sort of scale we can't add that much cost everything in order to pay off these externalities something we talked about in the past that again nothing is profitable, well this is a really great dollar sign example of that back.
[1:02:17] Let me put it in a more visual perspective because like you mention one CO2 is in the atmosphere it's very dilute we talked about the concentration of carbon dioxide in parts per million wear it like 450 parts per million right now. So whatever technique you're using if you're trying to remove this carbon dioxide from the atmosphere you have to deal with a huge volume of.
[1:02:56] You have to remove about a hundred and ten pounds of CO2 everyday for every single American. To give you an idea of how much volume of air you'd have to process in order to do that what you do is you take care about as big as a football field and then go up 30 feet. That's how much air you have to process for each American every single day in order to get a hundred ten pounds of CO2 out of. So this this DAC method of a let's just employ fandor are some big machine to just directly pull CO2 out of the air and then of course we're going to have to use energy to sequester that somehow this is not going to work.
[1:03:33] Yeah and this question part of it is actually very complicated as well it involves taking this carbon dioxide or carbon that we removed converting it to a form that can be easily stored, and usually the way that is done is by directly injecting that into deep wells in the land sort of almost fracking ask.
[1:03:50] It was so interesting is so the sequestration that we really only done on extremely small scales we haven't really played with this on a practical scale. The more you compress CO2 into some of these depleted oil wells or sea water aquifers. Well that pressure can sometimes lead to earthquakes I mean there have been some studies done that of linked earthquakes to some of this pressurised tutuapp that we're pumping out of the ground and of course you can leave.
[1:04:17] Trying to get to you this very complicated problem and it gets very expensive both and dollar amounts and the energy required to store this. Making it that much less efficient at removing this carbon from the air and dependent at the same time all these renewable sources of energy. Weather that solar weather that's wind or whether something that's quasi carbon neutral or negative like beccs if that technology matures to a point word actually. Is practical so this is a lot of what-ifs a lot of maybes and a lot to think about. Just Scratching The Surface
[1:04:46] And we really didn't even discuss all of the numbing there's some other ideas out there varying CO2 in the ocean there's an idea of accelerating weathering patterns to increase the rate of the carbon cycle which would involve mining a huge amounts of sediment.
[1:05:01] Hundreds of cubic kilometers to set up.
[1:05:03] This is the craziest guy we didn't even touch on that one but.
[1:05:05] My favorite that we didn't mention is genetically bringing back alive wooly mammoths to, Cross of the Tundra's of the North Main keep the permafrost they are frozen and which is if we're going to try one of these I hope it's that one.
[1:05:18] Of course there's also ideas of genetically altering crops are there more shiny and they block the sunlight more effectively.
[1:05:25] There's small-scale things Lau has just started painting some of their streets White. In order to try and reflect some sun from this dark asphalt and raise the Albedo of their streets but at the same time like we just discussed in our plastic episode well that paint is one of the major contributors of microplastics. In the environment so this painting of streets of all the surface area will that bill where is down very quickly and ends up back in the ocean contributing to that environmental problem seems like we can never really do anything right. No matter what we try.
[1:05:55] What did I think it comes to this simple idea which is we're trying to solve a complex dynamic system which is the global climate. By adding even more complexity cuz I know how can we block the Sun how can we seed clouds to have this effect how can we dump things into the ocean to speed up some natural process. And I think if we take a step back we can realize that instead of trying to control this very complex system it would be so much simpler to just reduce the complexity in the human side of the equation.
[1:06:24] Daniel it's too simple where's the profit in that.
[1:06:27] And that's all timidly what it comes down to is that we have to grow our economy. We have to grow our population in order to sustain this never-ending wheel that we're now on that we have to come up with these Tecna fixes that ultimately are going to work. But because the very Foundation of Our Lives now rest on this idea of indefinite growth unless we're willing to question that and deal with a very difficult reality of the unsustainability associated with that.
[1:06:57] Kind of magic Silver Bullet.
[1:06:59] So what can we do Daniel's that time of the show Once More. What Can We Do
[1:07:02] What can we do David I think they're what we can do paradoxically is in a little bit depressing we need to research these Technologies we need to research them even more.
[1:07:12] When you want to look more into mining the moon with hundreds of thousands of million-dollar robot.
[1:07:18] Maybe some of these ideas we don't need to pursue them further but. But some of these more immediate ones that are a little bit more cost-effective like iron fertilization of the ocean some of these quote-unquote carbon-neutral Technologies like the X. I think we absolutely should investigate them more in the reason is because at some point someone is going to do it. Because that is the way our incentive structures are set up it's the way our economy works we go Full Speed Ahead in terms of our development and our growth and we don't address the consequences of our actions until the cost of those consequences. Start to outweigh the benefits of our economic activities so what that means is that we're going to reach a point through this climate change where the cost associated with the climate is so big that Nations institutions. Are going to be desperate to try anything even at significant risk for the chance that it may alleviate some of these negative externalities even if it's only in the short-term. We know that this world is going to become more desperate we know that this desperation will drive Nations to the implementation of risky and harmful Technologies. To the more we learn about how these Technologies might actually work and some of the consequences associated with them the more we'll be prepared to deal with the Fallout of implementing these and maybe we can lower a little bit. The chance that some of these Technologies are just going to wipe us out before the climate gets the chance.
[1:08:42] Wow that is optimistic and he's going even more simple than that I mean. Discussing the world where we do in fact reduce our consumption of fossil fuels it seems so obvious but it is The Simple Solution here if alcohol is destroying your liver stop drinking it's smoking is destroying your lungs stop smoking. Well in the same thing is true with fossil fuels is killing the world well just stop burning it. To begin looking again at our world economy to understand the negative externalities that were doing borrowing from the future borrowing from the future environment. With the burning of these hustle fuels and understanding that eventually that that comes to do and it's better to get out of this now rather than later. It's going to hurt it's going to be painful but we need to start talking about no growth and D growth and both are fossil fuels and our world economy as a whole. If you want to read about any of these crazy Technologies or much more checking facts sources and alike as well as a full transcript of this show you can find that on our website at. Close Out
[1:09:43] Ashes ashes. O RG.
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[1:10:23] We have an exciting episode coming up next week exploring an economic issue that we all interact with daily.
[1:10:31] I know I'm excited so we hope you're doing and until then this is ashes ashes but by.
[1:10:35] Bye by the way I'm drinking from a stainless steel bottle now.
[1:10:40] I'm thinking of a plastic bottle today.
[1:10:44] After researching this episode when I realized everything is hopeless I switch back to class.