What would you do if you thought you had an idea that might help make life on Earth a bit better for everyone? To whom would you write? With whom would you share your idea? How could you possibly make a real difference?
I don’t know the answer to those questions, so I’ll just write to my own blog and let others direct my message to the places it ought to go by forwarding a link here and there. Please don’t let me down! I’m counting on you, OB1-Kin-OB! (I know it’s not spelled that way in the Star Wars movie. This is a different OB1, okay? This one, I regard as my “kin,” and yes, this OB1 is one of the good ones!)
Climate change is real and it is a real threat to all life on Earth. Much of the climate change is attributable to the burning of fossil fuels. There are other causes, but even those causes can be attributed to having to sustain such a large population of humans. Animal-produced methane, for example, is a problem because domestic animals must be bred in large numbers to feed all the hungry, hungry humans. But some very responsible farmers are finding that there are ways to achieve carbon capture, (and make money) from what would otherwise be rotting piles of manure, then use or sell the resulting fixed-carbon beneficially in fertilizers that help carbon-capturing plants to grow.
There are solutions.
I recently watched a documentary called, “Earth Overhaul,” that had some pretty wild, global-scale suggestions for re-engineering our planet. I was unimpressed by most of these hare-brained ideas that included seeding algae blooms in oceans (it might capture carbon but it would also kill marine life). I am opposed to seeding our stratosphere with sulphur too. What goes up must come down. Mirrors in space? You’ve got to be kidding!
However, one material did look pretty promising to me, even though the ideas for its deployment seemed far-fetched. Some scientists have developed a flexible, almost sponge-like material that is exceptionally good at capturing carbon. In the program, it was presented looking very much like an array of flexible pine needles on a branch. The proposal for its deployment however was to create massive installations in far-flung, out-of-the-way places and have these mega-installations suck carbon for later sequestering well below the Earth’s surface. I’m saying to myself, “Okay, nice material, bad deployment plan.”
Another development, not related to carbon capture but instead related to lowering air-borne carbon production, is flexible polymer solar cells. Instead of having great, heavy, better-fix-‘em-in-place-lest-the-wind-take-‘em, solar panels, flexible polymer solar cells would be lightweight. Ideally, they would simply flutter in the wind. If the wind did take them, they probably wouldn’t damage much of anything. They looked leaf-like to me.
Then I’m thinking of all the huge parking lots all over the world that sit and bake in the sunshine. Wouldn’t it be nice if all those parking lots were shaded by solar cell covered tree-like structures? Wouldn’t it be even better if there were alternating rows of tree-like structures, one row with solar-cell leaves, another row with carbon-capture leaves or needles? Shade for the cars below, clean energy being generated, carbon being captured to lessen global warming. Benefit? Probably, yes. I wouldn’t know. I’m more of an artist than a scientist. But what I’m imagining makes summer time shopping seem a whole lot more pleasant.
I hope you’re wondering if simply planting more trees would accomplish the same thing. It would help, to be sure, but unfortunately we have reached the point where plant life is also struggling to survive, the carbon-capture capacity of this new material is much higher than that of trees and trees do not generate any energy until one burns their wood, which will become a serious no-no in time due to too much carbon being released by wood burning.
So yes, by all means, plant more trees, but plant them where animals are encouraged to live. Let their slow, natural growth be cover and environment for all natural life forms, including humans, but let’s turn our parking lots, maybe even our highways into air-cleaning machines that simultaneously generate clean energy.
More than that can be done, but this would be a step toward rescuing a run-away climate and preserving life on Earth.
Now, let’s play that you’re OB1-Kin-OB! Give me a hand getting this message to where it might do some good. Help me, OB1-Kin-OB! You’re our only hope!