May 1, 2019
The threats of overshoot and climate chaos loom larger by the day, but it’s all going to work out just fine. At least that’s what you hear from starry-eyed techno-optimists, hemp enthusiasts, and the output of ultra-hypothetical computer models. The silver bullet could come from outer space (e.g., mining asteroids or colonizing other worlds), it could come from the sky (turning air into carbon-sequestering rocks), or it could come from beneath our feet (building infrastructure out of hemp).
Maybe we should stop grasping at these (carbon nanotube) straws, and look for alternatives to the politically expedient worship of technology? Warning: we employ some math to get at the answer. Get out your abacus.
- “Cargoism” is a term coined by William Catton in his classic book Overshoot (see Chapter 11: Faith versus Fact). Overshoot is also available as a pdf.
- Smithsonian article on Vanuatu, cargo cults, and belief in “John Frum”
- Primer on the carbon cycle
- Review of negative emissions technologies from the European Academies Science Advisory Council
- Article on magnesite technology
- Basic information about magnesite
- More on magnesite
- Even more on magnesite and carbon sequestration
- And even more on magnesite and carbon sequestration
- Grand Coulee Dam and information about the quantity of concrete it contains
- Volume-to-weight conversion for concrete
- Quantity of annual carbon dioxide emissions
- Because it takes about a 2 tons of silicate rock to remove a ton of CO2 from the air, you need to mine and transport 2 tons of rock for each ton of CO2 captured, then you have to remove this rock again, now in the carbonate form from the reaction, so combined you are moving about 4 tons of rock to capture one ton of CO2. 37 billion tons of CO2 a year divided by 24 million tons of concrete in the Grand Coulee Dam = the equivalent mass in CO2 of around 1,500 Grand Coulee Dams, which if captured by making rock carbonates is like handling the mass of 6,000 Grand Coulee Dams.
- Some problems with carbon capture technology
- Hooray for space elevators!
- Number of people launched into space per year
- Asgardia, the proposed nation in space
- Blog promoting space colonization as the solution to overpopulation