Friday, August 9, 2013

Recycled to death (and how we can save the world from CO2 and global warming)

One of the easiest ways to remove CO2 from the air and sequester it in a stable form for thousands and thousands of years is right under our noses and we're too blind to see it. And it's so cheap it's almost free to implement. No need to build any fancy particle accelerators or invent some new catalysts or materials, everything we need has been around for thousands of years.

Trees, as we all know, are the very symbol of the green movement because their role in the carbon cycle is so iconic. It's only fitting that trees will play a key roll here as well.

Recycling paper is often sited as the cornerstone of environmentally responsible practices, and it keeps millions of trees from being harvested every year, as well as millions of tons of paper from going into landfills where they would take hundreds or thousands of years to decompose.

Hundreds or thousands of years to decompose.

Hundreds or thousands of years to decompose.

If the USA stopped recycling paper (one of the most stable forms of SEQUESTERED CARBON, besides coal) and simply buried it deep under landfills, we would effectively be removing millions of tons of NET CO2 from the atmosphere (carbon cycle) and sequestering it underground in the most stable form ever conceived by man to date. The infrastructure already exists. The economics are already in place. All of the logistics scream go! Go! Go!

All we have to do, to save the planet from global warming, is to stop recycling paper (building more things out of wood wouldn't hurt either).

When a tree falls in the woods, whether it makes a sound or not is still up for debate, but unless it gets covered up by a landslide (nature's landfill) and turns to coal, it'll rot, get eaten by termites, and be returned to the atmosphere as CO2 and methane within a few decades. All that CO2 that tree spent its entire life removing, nature will put back in a fraction of the time, unless a logger, a paper mill, and a landfill gets to it first.

In the 70s the environmentalists teamed up with the communists to halt the construction of new (CO2 free) nuclear power plants in the USA, resulting in a doubling of new, CO2 spewing coal plants over the last three decades. Their hearts (the environmentalists, not the communists) were in the right place, but nonetheless they (and the coal plants) are largely responsible for today's increased global CO2 levels. I hope they learn this lesson on unintended consequences and repeal their insistence on the counter productive and purely symbolic paper-recycling scheme before it's too late.

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