Sucking CO2 from the Air Would Not Halt Effects of Global Warming

As nations repeatedly fail to make major cuts in their greenhouse gas production, scientists and others have begun to wonder if climate change might be halted not by emissions cuts but by technology that removes those gases from the atmosphere. The approach is called geoengineering. Unfortunately, a recent simulation of its effects on the oceans found that even extreme methods would not be able to completely rehabilitate the ocean environment. The work was published in Nature Climate Change on August 3. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.)

The experiments focused on carbon dioxide removal (CDR), the process of extracting excess CO2 directly from the atmosphere. In theory this could help oceans because they become dangerously acidic when they absorb too much atmospheric CO2. One CDR idea is to plant trees that consume large amounts of CO2 and then burn the trees in facilities where the emissions can be captured and stored underground. But no one has ever tested this or similar carbon removal schemes on a large scale.

The next-best thing to large-scale testing is a large-scale simulation. In the new study researchers led by Sabine Mathesius, an environmental scientist at the Potsdam Institute

— source | Maria Temming | Aug 12, 2015

Nullius in verba

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