This is not another negative commentary on “climate control.” It is too late for that.
“Climate restoration” is a different story than “zero carbon” or “carbon neutrality.” The book points out, embarrassingly, that even though we seem to be moving toward the United Nations’ climate goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, it is not enough!
It would still leave CO2 levels in the air more than 50% higher than humans have ever survived in, long term. No experts say that we have even a decent chance of surviving — even if we achieve net-zero by 2050!
But wait! Don’t stop here! The book has a positive message!
Among the significant things :
- The good news is that we can actually reduce the carbon dioxide levels to where they were 100 years ago. That is what climate restoration means and what is needed.
- It gives three tracks and five scientifically proven methods for restoring carbon already in the air back into the earth.
- It is reader-friendly, understandable and data based.
The “three tracks” we need to pursue are:
- Restore CO2 to levels humans have survived in for eons — below 300 parts per million by 2050. This requires turning back the clock on CO2 to 1920 levels, using the mechanisms that nature used to remove CO2 before ice ages.
- Restore methane to lower levels and create the capacity to oxidize a potentially horrific methane burst, should it happen again.
- Restore a sustainable population. Estimates are that the earth now supports four to five times as many people as are sustainable. We can get back to a sustainable level (last seen in 1920) by 2100, just by letting birth rates fall to what they are in Italy — 1.3 to 1.5 children per woman.
Here are the five unique and fascinating ways, already existing, that will enable us to do this:
- Imitate nature’s iron-rich dust storms. Iron increases the production of healthy phytoplankton in the oceans. Collectively, phytoplankton produce as much photosynthesis as all the green plants on the land, while weighing less than 1% as much. Without getting into the complexity of it, simply adding one pound of iron “dust” to the oceans can trigger a phytoplankton bloom of 50 tons. Healthy phytoplankton will also feed and restore much of the depleted marine and fish populations. This will restore a boom in sea life production and commerce, which will feed and employ humans.
- Capture billions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and use it to make limestone/cement building materials! Limestone accounts for about 70% of the rock used in building, and it is 44% carbon by weight. There will continue to be a great demand for concrete building materials. We are already able to extract carbon from industrial exhaust, and we can even extract it from the air. This carbon can be used to make building materials!
- Use seaweed to capture carbon. Kelp and other seaweeds capture carbon as part of their natural process of photosynthesis. Kelp does this up to 10 times faster than trees or plants. All that a permaculture forest of kelp needs to grow is a structure to attach itself to, and a pump to pipe up lower-level sea water. By producing this on a large scale, half of the kelp could be harvested for commercial products and the other half sunk for long-term carbon sequestration. This is already being done. If production can triple every year for the next 13 years, this marine permaculture process will be able fix a gigaton of carbon annually!
- Employ techniques that can capture the methane bursts (we’re not talking “cows” here!) that become more and more likely because of the melting permafrost. Without getting into the technology, it is possible, but not easy.
- Allow population to fall to a stable level that the earth can sustain: around 2 billion people. We are now at 8 billion, moving toward 10 billion by 2050. However, doing this will not require draconian measures. The reason Italy’s fertility rates, mentioned above, dropped so dramatically is simple: when you know your kids will live into adulthood, you stop having so many kids! This has happened in every other industrialized country. At Italy’s rate, we could actually restore population to the optimum level by 2120!
My thoughts: Just to be bluntly honest, we are not even on track, and never have been, to reach the Paris Agreement climate goals by 2050.
Even if we did, the excess carbon that is in our atmosphere will still make global conditions much more wretched.
The goals of climate control and climate restoration, however, are eminently doable, and not that costly. They can be mostly undertaken by private enterprise.
Most of the science needed to do so already exists.