A mysterious green rock called olivine could be the key to fighting climate change. The unique mineral has a curious property – it’s able to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere – and it could potentially turn the tide in the losing battle against global warming. Retired geochemist Olaf Schuiling believes the rock could remove enough CO2 from the atmosphere to halt climate change.
The good news is that olivine is abundant, and that there are several researchers already working on ways to put it to good use. The statistic are impressive: one report states that one ton of olivine could remove approximately two-thirds of a ton of CO2. However this means we would literally need billions of tons of the rock – approximately 3,000 Hoover Dams worth!
“Let the earth help us to save the earth,” Schuiling said speaking to Grist, noting that the methods we already use to extract oil and coal could be utilized for mining olivine. There are drawbacks, of course. Unfortunately, the ‘olivine method’ would take two decades to make any noticeable difference, and that’s not even taking into account the year-on-year rise in emissions.
Geoengineering is not new, and while some crazy theories have been put forward – such as wrapping Greenland in a blanket – this is one of the more practical ones. Olivine is already being put to use in the Netherlands where certain environmentally-conscious citizens have been using the mineral in paths and gardens around the country. One company called greenSand is even trying to make olivine a viable construction material.
The National Academy of Sciences is expected to release a report on geoengineering sometime this year, but until then this is one idea that could potentially make a big difference. Use the earth to save the Earth? It does make sense…