Wednesday, April 21, 2021

All you need to know about Elon Musk’s Carbon Capture Prize

[This is a transcript of the video embedded below.]

Elon Musk has announced he is sponsoring a competition for the best carbon removal ideas with a fifty million dollar prize for the winner. The competition will open on April twenty-second, twenty-twenty-one. In this video, I will tell you all you need to know about carbon capture to get your brain going, and put you on the way for the fifty million dollar prize.

During the formation of our planet, large amounts of carbon dioxide were stored in the ground, and ended up in coal and oil. By burning these fossil fuels, we have released a lot of that old carbon dioxide really suddenly. It accumulates in the atmosphere and prevents our planet from giving off heat the way it used to. As a consequence, the climate changes, and it changes rapidly.

The best course of action would have been to not pump that much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to begin with, but at this point reducing future emissions alone might no longer be the best way to proceed. We might have to find ways to actually get carbon dioxide back out of the air. Getting this done is what Elon Musk’s competition is all about.

The problem is, once carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere it stays there for a long time. By natural processes alone, it would take several thousand years for atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to return to pre-industrial. And the climate reacts slowly to the sudden increase in carbon dioxide, so we haven’t yet seen the full impact of what we have done already. For example, there’s a lot of water on our planet, and warming up this water takes time.

So, even if we were to entirely stop carbon dioxide emissions today, the climate would continue to change for at least several more decades, if not centuries. It’s like you elected someone out of office, and now they’re really pissed off, but they’ve got six weeks left on the job and nothing you can do about that.

Globally, we are presently emitting about forty billion tons of carbon dioxide per year. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we’d have to get down to twenty billion tons per year to limit warming to one point five degrees Celsius compared to preindustrial levels. These one point five degrees are what’s called the “Paris target.” This means, if we continue emitting at the same level as today, we’ll have to remove twenty billion tons carbon dioxide per year.

But to score in Musk’s competition, you don’t need a plan to remove the full twenty billion tons per year. You merely need “A working carbon removal prototype that can be rigorously validated” that is “capable of removing at least 1 ton per day” and the carbon “should stay locked up for at least one hundred years.” But other than that, pretty much everything goes. According to the website, the “main metric for the competition is cost per ton”.

So, which options do we have to remove carbon dioxide and how much do they cost?

The obvious thing to try is enhancing natural processes which remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. You can do that for example by planting trees because trees take up carbon dioxide as they grow. They are what’s called a natural “carbon sink”. This carbon is released again if the trees die and rot, or are burned, so planting trees alone isn’t enough, we’d have to permanently increase their numbers.

By how much? Depends somewhat on the type of forest, but to get rid of the twenty billion tons per year, we’d have to plant about ten million square kilometers of new forests. That’s about the area of the United States and more than the entire remaining Amazon rainforest.

Planting so many trees seems a bit impractical. And it isn’t cheap either. The cost is about 100 US dollars per ton of carbon dioxide. So, to get rid of the 20 billion tons excess carbon dioxide, that would be a few trillion dollars per year. Trees are clearly part of the solution, but we need to do more than that. And stop burning the rain forest wouldn’t hurt either.

Humans by the way are also a natural carbon sink because we’re eighteen percent carbon. Unfortunately, burying or burning dead people returns that carbon into the environment. Indeed, a single cremation releases about two-hundred-fifty kilograms of carbon dioxide, which could be avoided, for example, by dumping dead people in the deep sea where they won’t rot. So, if we were to do sea burials instead of cremations, that would save up to a million tons carbon dioxide per year. Not a terrible lot. And probably quite expensive. Yeah, I’m not the person to win that prize.

But there’s a more efficient way that oceans could help removing carbon. If one stimulates the growth of algae, these will take up carbon. When the algae die, they sink to the bottom of the ocean, where the carbon could remain, in principle, for millions of years. This is called “ocean fertilization”.

It’s a good idea in theory, but in practice it’s presently unclear how efficient it is. There’s no good data for how many of the algae sink and how many of them get eaten, in which case the carbon might be released, and no one knows what else such fertilization might do to the oceans. So, a lot of research remains to be done here. It’s also unclear how much it would cost. Estimates range from two to four hundred fifty US dollars per ton of carbon dioxide.

Besides enhancing natural carbon sinks, there are a variety of technologies for removing carbon permanently.

For example, if one burns agricultural waste or wood in the absence of oxygen, this will not release all the carbon dioxide but produce a substance called biochar. The biochar keeps about half of the carbon, and not only is it is stable for thousands of years, it can also improve the quality of soil.

The major problem with this idea is that there’s only so much agricultural waste to burn. Still, by some optimistic estimates one could remove up to one point eight billion tons carbon dioxide per year this way. Cost estimates are between thirty and one hundred twenty US dollars per ton of carbon dioxide.

By the way, plastic is about eighty percent carbon. That’s because it’s mostly made of oil and natural gas. And since it isn’t biodegradable, it’ll safely store the carbon – as long as you don’t burn it. So, the Great Pacific garbage patch? That’s carbon storage. Not a particularly popular one though.

A more popular idea is enhanced weathering. For this, one artificially creates certain minerals that, when they come in contact with water, can bind carbon dioxide to them, thereby removing it from the air. The idea is to produce large amounts of these minerals, crush them, and distribute them over large areas of land.

The challenges for this method are: how do you produce large amounts of these minerals, and where do you find enough land to put it on. The supporters of the American weathering project Vesta claim that the cost would be about ten US dollars per ton of carbon dioxide. So that’s a factor ten less than planting trees.

Then there is direct air capture. The most common method for this is pushing air through filters which absorb carbon dioxide. Several petrol companies like Chevron, BHP, and Occidental currently explore this technology. The company Carbon Engineering, which is backed by Bill Gates, has a pilot plant in British Columbia that they want to scale up to commercial plants. They claim every such plant will be equivalent in carbon removal to 40 million trees, removing 1 million tons of carbon dioxide per year.

They estimate the cost between ninety-four and 232 US dollar per ton. That would mean between two to four trillion US dollars per year to eliminate the entire twenty billion tons carbon dioxide which we need to get rid of. That’s between two point five and five percent of the world’s GDP.

But, since carbon dioxide is taken up by the oceans, one can also try to get rid of it by extracting it from seawater. Indeed, the density of carbon dioxide in seawater is about one hundred twenty five times higher than it is in air. And once you’ve removed it, the water will take up new carbon dioxide from the air, so you can basically use the oceans to suck the carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. That sounds really neat.

The current cost estimate for carbon extraction from seawater is about 50 dollars per ton, so that’s about half as much as carbon extraction from air. The major challenge for this idea is that the currently known methods for extracting carbon dioxide from water require heating the water to about seventy degrees Celsius which takes up a lot of energy. But maybe there are other, more energy efficient ways, to get carbon dioxide out of water? You might be the person to solve this problem.

Finally, there is carbon capture and storage, which means capturing carbon dioxide right where it’s produced and store it away before it’s released into the atmosphere.

About twenty-six commercial facilities already use this method, and a few dozen more are planned. In twenty-twenty, about forty million tons of carbon dioxide were captured by this method. The typical cost is between 50 and 100 US$ per ton of carbon dioxide, though in particularly lucky cases the cost may go down to about 15 dollars per ton. The major challenge here is that present technologies for carbon capture and storage require huge amounts of water.

As you can see an overall problem for these ideas is that they’re expensive. You can therefore score on Musk’s competition by making one of the existing technologies cheaper, or more efficient, or both, or maybe you have an entirely new idea to put forward. I wish you good luck!


  1. Thanks for that update, not least that of providing a short review of some of the technological ideas considered.

    I remain, though, both skeptical and pessimistic about the hope, which human kind seems so much to subscribe to, of mitigating climate destabilization via technology first and foremost. And that for at least the following two reasons: 1.) various bottle necks (rare metals for batteries, say), and 2.) the tendency of human kind (and actually of life in general) to invade and exploit every new possibility opening up. The latter issue will keep sending us back to square one, requiring ever more fancy technology. That is why I call believing in a technological fix for "engaging in sci-fi-masturbation".

    To me there is only the most obvious solution: our lifestyle has to change; it has to be heavily reigned in, as simply as that. But that solution seems simply not an option; it is not even near the negotiation table. And to me that is first and foremost the case because the capitalist paradigm and our consumption paradigm are, and have been for quite some time, the best ones to serve the following two purposes: 1.) to impress each other, including not least a sexual partner (note how sexual forces in this way seem to select traits that threatens life - exquisitely stupidly), and 2.) to try to expel feelings of sadness, emptiness, and existential anxiety in general from the center of our lives by relentlessly buying stuff and running restlestly around from one event to another.

    To me there is no solution to the climate problem without a change of our mindset (and as a consequence, our culture itself). I strongly believe that there is no solution within the present paradigm.

  2. Last decade or so I thought maybe carbon could be incorporated into cement. I looked into this, but found this not possible. However, I heard a couple of months ago a report where some company is proposing just this. So, ... maybe.

    Good luck for anyone pursuing this. I am not entirely certain that any of these things will be that successful.

  3. Sabine said, " dumping dead people in the deep sea where they won’t rot. So, if we were to do sea burials instead of cremations, that would save up to a million tons carbon dioxide per year. Not a terrible lot. And probably quite expensive. Yeah, I’m not the person to win that prize."

    Another example why I love you read your blog, it's practical, at that point the body is components that made a human rather than human, and I laughed so hard because we both know the uproar such a proposal would create.

    1. I've thought back and forth a few times whether the joke's too dumb to include and I'm too clumsy to make it, so I'm happy you found it amusing :)

    2. Hi Terry, Dr. Hossenfelder:
      I don't think it's a completely outrageous idea to contemplate given that lacking room to bury dead people is a pressing problem in some parts of Earth.
      Also Dr. Hossenfelder, even your dumb jokes are hilarious; it's in the delivery. The popping noises in the videos are now funny now since people kept complaining about them on YouTube.
      Keep the 'dumb' jokes coming!:D

    3. Hi C Thompson,

      I saw you over in the YouTube comments a few times. It's nice as for the most part the two platforms are pretty disconnected.

      As to the complaints. I think there's a certain fraction of people who complain about irrelevant things just because they have nothing else to say. Previously they'd complain about my clothing or pronunciation. Now it's the popping or the cuts. It makes no sense to ask the videographer to change something about it, because they'd just move on to complain about something else. Ie, there's a certainly level of complaint-background that I just accept as unavoidable.

    4. Hi Dr. Hossenfelder
      Free science-news-humour-stylishness videos, and people are complaining... yeesh.
      If they have that hard a time putting up with all that, there's the blog transcript.
      I'm a fan of your stuff because of what you bring to it. I don't mean to be creepy, but I think you're fantastic, and importantly, a decent human.
      As I've said before, this blog is also an interesting place to hang out.

    5. I don't know why I wrote 'Terry', but I meant to greet Louis.

    6. Well Louis, what George Carlin said about using humans as phospherus (, or the biodegradable coffin made by Capsula Mundi ( ) aren't really that different from what Sabine said; besides, this is the kind of thing that I think every person thought about at one point in their life when studying biodegradability in middle school (at least I know I did).

  4. Imagine a room-temperature process that focuses high energies with atomic-scale precision only onto the surface of graphite (or diamond) crystals. This atomically localized process reduces carbon atoms directly from carbon dioxide, releasing oxygen with each reduction. While exotic in its details, such a process would at its heart be a variant of the electrochemical processes used to coat objects with metals.

    Thus I present this conundrum as a possible sub-goal of Musk’s challenge:

    Within the entire realm of high-energy solid-state surface physics, does there exist any single or (more likely) multi-step process by which carbon crystals could be grown directly from air or water, releasing oxygen directly, without the need for energetically wasteful high ambient temperatures? Such high-energy reductions could, for example, involve dynamic multi-step applications of precisely tuned quasiparticles such as plasmons, excitons, phonons, polarons, or polaritons.

    Many years ago, I posed a related challenge on one of John Baez’s excellent websites. The problem is that in oxygen atmospheres, the combustion of short, hydrogen-rich carbon chains is one of the highest possible energy density pathways imaginable in chemistry. One way of understanding why this is so is to recognize that hydrocarbons provide one of the densest and lightest-weight approaches to storing the ultimate fuel, hydrogen. This extremely efficient and low-weight hydrogen storage method is better known as jet fuel. Such compounds remain vital in applications such as aviation, for which energy densities and low weight are paramount. While the liquid hydrogen fuel also provides low weight, using it in aviation comes only at terrible safety and volume costs. Other hydrogen storage methods do poorly to very poorly on weight.

    Given this persistent need, is there a way to create such fuels directly from carbon dioxide and water? Jet fuel produced by carbon reduction rather than carbon mining would be carbon-neutral.

    Suppose a high-energy quasiparticle process exists by which carbon can be crystallized directly from air or water. Direct carbon-neutral synthesis of jet fuel may then amount to little more than a variant of this process that reduces water to hydrogen simultaneously with reducing carbon dioxide to carbon. For improved energy efficiency, the process would immediately combine the two types of reduced atoms. The overall process would be equivalent to the electrolytic production of short-chain hydrocarbons from a mix of carbon dioxide and water.

    1. Carbon dioxide is at the bottom of the chemical potential or potential energy. You have to put a bit of energy into it to cleave it and form other molecules. It is pretty chemically stable and without some mechanism that breaks CO_2 apart it can exist almost perpetually. The atmosphere is case in point.

  5. 'Yeah, I’m not the person to win that prize.' I don't see why Dr. Hossenfelder couldn't, or at least be part of a consortium.

    I can try to elaborate on the 'sea burial' idea a bit, as a thought experiment (if anyone uses my ideas, toss me a couple of million, haha.):
    Recycle old cargo ships and retrofit them to be mobile morgues with chapels. Bodies could be processed and put in containers that are predator-proof.
    Old oil rigs could also be refitted for processing.
    Also, maybe old rigs can be converted into solar-powered water-heating carbon extraction and storage plants?

    I think that primary-school-aged me would've lept delightedly into this and produced a nifty poster about the possibilities. Forty-year-old me just puts random ideas on the internet.

  6. Instead of pasting a link I'll paste the text:

    This Low-Cost Carbon Dioxide Splitter Just Changed The Game For Solar-Powered CO2 Reduction
    Scientists have developed the first low-cost system for splitting carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide and oxygen - a process that's crucial if we're going to ramp up renewable energy use in the future.

    This splitting process has long been identified as a promising way of turning renewables into fuel without increasing the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but until now, no one had come up with a method that was cheap enough to be practical.

    The solution devised by a team from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland is based on an electrolysis technique using copper-oxide nanowires modified with tin oxide, which splits CO2 with an efficiency of 13.4 percent running on solar power.

    "The work sets a new benchmark for solar-driven CO2 reduction," says one of the researchers, Jingshan Luo.

    To understand why this is so important for a cleaner environment, we need to go back to basics, and the idea that splitting harmful carbon dioxide into its essential parts is good for the planet, as CO2 levels in the atmosphere increase.

    The unfortunate catch is that such a split requires energy – and if the ultimate aim is less CO2, that energy needs to be provided by a source that doesn't generate more of it.

    That's why scientists have been working so hard to find a solution. Once carbon monoxide is released, it can be combined with hydrogen to produce synthetic carbon-based fuels, which means CO2 gets taken out of the atmosphere, and we get clean fuel at the other end - a win-win.

    Current methods for doing this are prohibitively expensive, and need more energy to break down the carbon dioxide than they put out in return, which is why this new method is potentially so exciting.

    Copper and tin are both available in abundance, so the system shouldn't cost much to scale up, and the electrolysis reaction that creates the split is relatively simple to set up.

    By using an atomic layer of tin to trap the energy that would normally be lost when copper is used as an electrode, then adding a thin membrane between the anode and cathode to optimise both sides of the reaction, the researchers were able to create a finely tuned system that doesn't use up more energy than it gives out.

    As well as reducing CO2 levels, if this splitting system can be developed, it helps with the problem of storing energy from renewable sources by turning it straight into liquid fuel.

    "This is the first time that such a bi-functional and low-cost catalyst is demonstrated," says one of the team, Marcel Schreier.

    "Very few catalysts - except expensive ones, like gold and silver - can selectively transform CO2 to CO in water, which is crucial for industrial applications."

    One such industrial application could be set up at the Climeworks plant in Zurich in Switzerland, where scientists are aiming to capture carbon dioxide from the air and convert it into fertiliser.

    If experts can figure out a way to effectively trap the CO2 that's being pulled in, then we now have a way of turning that into fuel very efficiently.

    We've got a long way to go before we can be confident of slowing the changes that are happening to our planet, but developments like this give us hope for the future.

    The research has been published in Nature Energy.

    End of quote-- the incentive to do this on a large scale would be fuel production, I guess. How much this sort of thing would actually help I don't know. Most likely there will be no magic bullet. Many different things will need to be done.

    1. It would also be useful for providing a non-fossil fuel based feedstock for all sorts of organic sythesis.

  7. The aim is fuel production? I thought the idea of the “Green Deal” is to get rid of all fuel burning devices.

    1. Fuel has a rather high energy density. It's kindof impractical to power an intercontinental airliner with batteries. So this gets you carbon neutral jet engines (or rockets for that matter) which definitely are an improvement over today's.

      However, this is out of scope of Elon's prize money.

  8. Sabine,
    Awesome video! Some feedback:
    #1) I think it's worth mentioning the Azolla Event in which atmospheric carbon was reduced (leading to the ice ages with humanity). A lot of oil companies actually wanted to develop the Arctic because in theory there are loads of carbon stored there (though it might be all kerogen). It is some evidence of ocean fertilization (in that case slit + fresh water) working. I'm amazed how few people know about it (and it might surprise many to find that before this the CO2 concentration was generally >1000ppm; there is a reason why your dinosaur museums don't have any snow, the Earth geologically speaking usually doesn't have ice caps!). Ironically Azolla still grows today but unfortunately we don't have a massive nutrient rich semi fresh/semi saline environment.
    #2) Ocean storage of CO2, beneath the ocean at cold temperatures you form these cool CO2 hydrates (ices) that will essentially sequester. Very cool physics with hydrates!!! At 0C and 30000kPag (hydrostatic pressure at 3km) the ocean can be >10% liquid CO2 without hydrates. Instead of heating, just move the CO2 water down there by low energy turbine. Way WAY less energy than heating and/or compression.
    #3) Algae storage - my personal favorite is Sargassum. It floats and is big, easy to filter and capture. Ironically when fertilizer builds up out of the Mississippi and the Amazon and the temps are right BOOM - Sargassum invasion of the beaches! Let's go get it. This might help stop hurricanes from your earlier videos if we did those plumes on purpose!
    #4) With biochar the other 50% is fuel that you can upgrade. You upgrade it (sorry, not going to publicly tell you how to avoid all that coke!) and sell the fuels balancing the carbon cycle at a profit while you sequester CO2. Now you have a profitable carbon sequestration option.
    #5) With carbon engineering it takes energy to power those fans and I still don't get what they are going to do with the CO2. Carbon capture with amine is cool, but you need to compress the CO2 with power. Annoying. Clean Energy Systems though has a cool oxyfired combuster with a turbine and then they are sequestering the CO2, pretty cool. In Alberta and Sask we have a couple CO2 sequestration projects but you need reservoirs that can store the CO2 (not always nearby). Ocean works but you have a gas generally in these cases and who wants to compress to 10000kPag to overcome hydrostatic pressure?
    #6) Don't forget your super cool chemolithoautotrophic organisms! Here you use H2S (that's right, hydrogen sulfide) and oxygen reduced by bacteria to make biomass. Then you make some fuels by hydrothermal liquid faction and then pump the organics and sulfates under ground where geothermal heat and anaerobic digestion make H2S again and you get to cycle the H2S. Unfortunately it is much easier to have concrete with CO2. The Western Research Institute actually has a patent on the CAT process. I have seen these organisms (the bacteria of which is usually in tubeworms under the ocean) used for sweetening natural gas. Some cool physics there, some have said that this might be how life would develop with the sulphur cycle on other planets (though you still need oxygen for reduction, so go figure).

  9. Deep sea cemeteries... coffins made from carbon-fibres! ;)

    1. If we here bloggers put our heads together, we might come up with something approaching a brilliant idea. :)

  10. Sorry to disappoint the carbon sequestering enthusiasts but this problem is not solvable by chemical means (= it takes too much energy to concentrate and store the huge volumes of CO2; burning 12 kilos of carbon produce 44 kilos of CO2). And it cannot be done with the help of biology - plants, algae, etc. (because of the enviro impact of growing and burying that much biomass.

    It is a mirage like "hydrogen-based economy" and no amount of funding and wishful thinking can bring it closer to reality.

    If we had a cheap abundant electric energy independent of fossil fuels, we could do all kinds of interesting things and perhaps leave oil and gas entirely for the chemical industry. But since we don't, all proposed solutions of the CO2 problem are worse than the problem itself. It is quite like with communism - inequality and unemployment and recessions and market bubbles are quite bad - but eliminating markets and property rights with help of nationalization of industry and central planning does not really get you to a better place.

    1. "If we had a cheap abundant electric energy independent of fossil fuels, we could do all kinds of interesting things and perhaps leave oil and gas entirely for the chemical industry."

      Since the 1950's scientists have dreamed of generating electrical power via controlled fusion. Such a power source would free us forever from fossil fuel dependence, while its limitless energy could be employed to draw down the atmospheric carbon dioxide to preindustrial levels. But all efforts have fallen short of sustaining an output energy greater than the energy put into the system. It has proven exceedingly difficult to confine hot plasmas with magnetic fields or implode fuel pellets with surrounding laser beams, for periods long enough to extract useful energy beyond breakeven. But nature has no problem accomplishing this via the weakest force in nature – gravity. Gather enough hydrogen in one place and it uniformly squeezes down on the innermost core with enough pressure to ignite continuous fusion reactions. So, just maybe, if humankind someday develops a source of gravity, or gravity-like fields, with intrinsic strength comparable to the other Standard Model forces, they could by themselves, or in combination with magnetic fields, bring the dream of inexhaustible, non-polluting energy to reality.

    2. you are wrong, we have a practical fusion device that produces a staggering amount of energy, by fusion. It was even miniaturized - you can put up to ten of them on top of a ballistic missile, complete with decoys and individual reentry vehicle heat shields...

    3. @Milkshake, well that would qualify as uncontrolled fusion. I was actually surprised to see that the first attempt to achieve controlled fusion was in 1938 some 83 years ago. According to Wiki a toroidal magnetic bottle was constructed at the Langley Research Center in Virginia that year.

    4. Back in the 1980s at Lawrence Livermore Labs - motto: when you care to send the very best - they called that active solar power as opposed to passive solar power.

  11. I'm not convincrd that artificial forms of carbon capture are the way forward. I think rewilding nature by planting more trees and greenifying cities is a positive step. We shouldn't think of nature in simply utilitarian ways, nature is a good in itself. I think that the nature philosophy of the Lakota tribes are more in tune with this as well as Christianity and Islam when they talk about the stewardship of the earth. Nature is not there solely to benefit us.

    Moreover, as the the global response to the pandemic shows, governments are more than capable of taking action. The pandemic demanded an immediate response, whereas the problem with the climate is chronic. However, they should make it more of a priority and use it as an opportunity for reforming global capitalism, which we have seen in recent decades further entrench in inequities.

    The IMF have pointed out that fossil fuels are subsidised to the tune of 5 trillion dollars anually. This is a sick joke at this late stage. That 5 trillion dollars should be requistioned immediately in the global fight against climate change. This puts in perspecyive the paltry fifty million that Musk is trying to save the planet with.

    Governments can do this. Look at the recent debacle with the breakaway European Superleague. It was seen immediately for what it was - a brazen attempt by a dozen European clubs to lock in profits. This is obviously detrimental to a much game which has been taken away from the communities that developed it, played it, applauded it. And governments came down hard on the clubs in question - they were given a good kicking.

    However, the same has been done in the fossil fuel industry to the detriment of everyone. And likewise fossil fuel chiefteins should be given a good kicking until they reform.

    Personally, I'm with Rosa Luxemburg who warned that to think that global capitalism is capable of voluntary reform is wishful thinking. Moreover, in her opinion, revolution is called for, because reform doesn't touch the fundamentals of capitalism and it's the fundamentals that need to change.

    I think it's too much to ask for Elin Musk or Bill Gates to revolutionise how we think about capitalism. They have too much skin in the game. But that is really what we need.

  12. Schade dass die Bevölkerungsentwicklung in all diesen Überlegungen zumeist ausgeblendet wird.
    Siehe: world population clock.

    1. Not sure what you mean. The IPCC integrated assessment models most definitely include population growth projections.

  13. Rant incoming:
    In Australia, successive conservative federal governments have quashed support for building infrastructure and encouraging innovation in renewable energy developments. There is some innovation and infrastructure but IMO nowhere near what we could have.
    The justifications for pursuing fossil fuel mining and infrastructure expansion are 'jobs, the economy!' (Never mind that there aren't many jobs for people in the steam- or horse-driven transport industries these days. We aren't really supporting the oil-lamp and candlestick industries either.)
    Our current Prime Minister pays lip service to environmental targets but would rather prop up fossil-fuel and industry magnates that prop up his party. He needs to stop pretending to give a shit so he shows himself to his supporters as the manipulative scrounger he is. I think we're reaching a tipping-point where he is more widely ineffectual. Universe. speed the day Australia has a compassionate, effective government.
    /end rant

  14. Foraminifera is a microorganism that takes carbon out of the oceans and sequesters that carbon as a mineral disposition on the ocean floor. If current trends continue, the oceans will become too acidic for foraminifera to survive and the carbon cycle in the oceans will end when all the foraminifera die from overly acidic ocean conditions.

    We need to help evolution along by genetically engineering the foraminifera to thrive in the high carbon environments of future ocean conditions that are on the way to keep the ocean food cycle going, to amplify it in a more rigorous manor, and to greatly increase carbon sequestration of the oceans caused by the foraminifera.

  15. “Implementing advanced tribological technologies can also reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 1,460 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2) and result in 450,000 million Euros cost savings in the short term. In the long term, the reduction could be as large as 3,140 MtCO2 and the cost savings 970,000 million Euros.” Wiki -- Tribology

    This is on the physics/engineering side of reducing friction.

    What would be the numbers for reducing friction on the social side?



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