If we quit adding carbon to the atmosphere, it won’t stop global warming any time soon. That’s why people are hoping there are ways to get the extra carbon out of the atmosphere, and that we can put billions of tons of it somewhere safe.
Breaking apart carbon dioxide — or extracting carbon dioxide from the air — takes work. Work means energy. It’s the reverse of combustion. There’s a triple problem here: the technology itself, the disposal, and the energy to do the work.
It’s a common saying that you can’t unscramble an egg. Once scrambled, the egg proteins won’t go back to their raw configuration when they cool, and even if they did, it’s impossible to wield a fork in such a way as to separate the yolk from the white. Roomfuls of the latest and greatest laboratory equipment, the best Google algorithms, or even all the king’s horses and all the king’s men would not unscramble our egg. The mixing and cooking are irreversible processes.
It’s a familiar impasse. Can we change the way we see the problem?
Feed our scrambled egg to a hen, and tomorrow she’ll lay us a new eg... Read more