A novel approach to removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere based on the Earth’s natural weathering process, which Olive Heffernan reported on in November, is getting more attention.
John Shepherd discusses the technique, developed by graduate student Kurt Zen House and colleagues, in a Journal Club column in Nature today, concluding:
The scheme House et al. outline looks promising if it were operated using a solar or geothermal electricity source near a supply of basic rocks. A mid-ocean volcanic island would be good. And the environmental consequences of the scheme’s discharges should be less severe than those of the ocean acidification that humans are already causing.
A simple geoengineering solution to soak up carbon dioxide without catastrophic side effects should raise interest, and it has. But Shepherd says that what geoengineering ideas need now, and haven’t got, is seed funding for pilot projects. “None of the research councils has so far felt that it’s their patch,” says Shepherd, but “DEFRA are beginning to take an interest, and both the Tyndall Centre and the Royal Society are now contemplating meetings or studies on geoengineering, so maybe things will hot up a bit sometime soon.”