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100,000 Synthetic Trees Could Help Combat Climate Change

Posted By Sarah Parsons On September 3, 2009 @ 9:00 am In biomimicry,global warming,Renewable Energy | 9 Comments

sustainable design, green design, geoengineering, artificial trees, synthetic, global warming, carbon storage, biomimicry

The field of geo-engineering [1]has launched all kinds of outlandish ideas for combating climate change, from dumping iron into the world’s oceans [2]to shooting mirrors into space [3]. A report [4] published last Thursday from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME) [5] suggested that a forest of 100,000 artificial “trees” [4] could be “planted” near depleted oil and gas reserves to trap carbon in a filter and bury it underground. The carbon suckers [6]look more like fly swatters than actual arbors, but researchers say that once fully developed, the “trees” could remove thousands of times more carbon than a real tree.

sustainable design, green design, geoengineering, artificial trees, synthetic, global warming, carbon storage, biomimicry

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME) [5]‘s report evaluated hundreds of geo-engineering projects and suggested three that could help mitigate global climate change (and that were actually feasible using current or soon-to-be-ready technology). Depending on how you look at it (and how creative a thinker you are), the suggestions could be lauded as really interesting, or just really insane.

In addition to artificial trees, the IME report [7]suggests growing algae in tubes on the sides of buildings. The algae [8], which traps carbon during photosynthesis [9], could be collected and transformed into charcoal, which could then be buried underground. The report also points out the benefits of painting roofs white, which reflects sunlight and helps mitigate heat island effect [10]in urban areas.

While the ideas sound good in theory, researchers have yet to see how the tech would actually work, as no one has quite mastered carbon capture and storage [11]. And even the engineers themselves warn that these geo-engineering projects won’t provide a solution to global warming–they’re meant to be used in conjunction with larger, more long-term efforts to reduce global carbon emissions [12].

The report also includes a 100-year plan to de-carbonize the global economy, and will be presented at party conferences this fall. Who knows–with the right investments and innovations, the next 10 to 20 years could bring a world filled with fake forests [6]and floating space mirrors [13].

+ Institution of Mechanical Engineers [7]

Via The Guardian [4]


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URLs in this post:

[1] geo-engineering : http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1720049_1720050_1721653,00.html

[2] dumping iron into the world’s oceans : http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/01/0108_020108oceaniron.html

[3] shooting mirrors into space: http://climate.weather.com/articles/savingplanet0308.html

[4] report: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/aug/27/geo-engineering-ime-report

[5] Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME): http://www.imeche.org/

[6] The carbon suckers : http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2009/04/16/trees-geoengineering.html

[7] IME report : http://www.imeche.org/about/keythemes/environment/Climate+Change/Geoeng

[8] algae: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algae

[9] photosynthesis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photosynthesis

[10] heat island effect : http://www.epa.gov/hiri/

[11] carbon capture and storage: http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/60-second-science/post.cfm?id=carbon-capture-and-storage-absolute-2009-03-06

[12] reduce global carbon emissions: http://www.climatecrisis.net/takeaction/

[13] space mirrors: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/jan/27/usnews.frontpagenews

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