Global Warming Could Be Slowed With Three Geo-Engineering Ideas


The U.K.’s Institute of Mechanical Engineers has proposed three geo-engineering schemes officials say could be immediately implemented to slow global warming: building artificial trees that absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide, using algae tubes to pull CO2 from the atmosphere, and painting the roofs of buildings white.

The engineers said that these three ideas, if carried out on a wide scale, could absorb much of the CO2 produced annually in the U.K. and cool temperatures.

The engineers shied away from more ambitious geo-engineering proposals — such as seeding the oceans with iron to encourage the growth of CO2-absorbing plankton — and focused instead on practical solutions that could be carried out soon.

The artificial trees are machines the size of a standard shipping container, and the engineers said that 100,000 of these “trees” — built on just 1,500 acres — could absorb all of the emissions of the U.K.’s non-power plant sector each year. The CO2 could then be stored underground in depleted oil and gas fields.

The CO2 absorbed by the algae tubes could be converted to charcoal and buried, the engineers said.

The engineers said that a £10 million research program — or about $16 million — could be used to turn the three ideas into reality. One IME official said the three ideas are not a substitute for emissions reductions, adding, “Geo-engineering is no silver bullet, it just buys us time.”

Appearing courtesy of Yale Environment 360.

[photo credit: Flickr]

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  1. This is interesting.

    I personally think painting roofs in white is a sound idea. I blogged about it already for my own blog. Another alternative – planting roofs – provides about the same advantages.

    Regarding algae, my mind first thought ” why not ? “. Since I don’t have enough data I won’t say more.

    But where I am completely disagreeing with them is about artificial trees. I have nothing on cleantech – quite the opposite, otherwise I wouldn’t contribute here – but this kind of cleantech is to me non-sense.

    A French thinker said that ” Science without conscience is but ruin of the soul” (Rabelais). I guess he could have been thinking about that.

    Indeed, real trees absorbs CO2 too. Keeping our forests and planting new ones is a good idea.

    It would also avoid soil erosion, protect biodiversity and so on. And if we need 10 real trees to absorb as much CO2 than an artificial one, so be it…

    I really would like to know what do you think about the latter.

  2. Official government measurements show that the world’s temperature has cooled a bit since reaching its most recent peak in 1998.

    That’s given global warming skeptics new ammunition to attack the prevailing theory of climate change. The skeptics argue that the current stretch of slightly cooler temperatures means that costly measures to limit carbon dioxide emissions are ill-founded and unnecessary.

    Proposals to combat global warming are “crazy” and will “destroy more than a million good American jobs and increase the average family’s annual energy bill by at least $1,500 a year,” the Heartland Institute, a conservative research organization based in Chicago, declared in full-page newspaper ads earlier this summer. “High levels of carbon dioxide actually benefit wildlife and human health,” the ads asserted.