Lowering carbon emissions may not be the best way to improve the earth’s climate, scientists are now saying.
Instead, a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine is calling for research into ways the oceans could be used to take carbon dioxide out of the air.
The report’s authors recommend the U.S. government set aside US$125 million (~€111 million) for a research program to look into the possibility.
According to Columbia University’s Romany Webb, one of the report’s co-authors:
“All of the land-based approaches have limitations, so it’s important to evaluate the possibility of also using the oceans. Importantly, the report identifies not only key scientific questions that need to be answered, but also social, legal, regulatory and policy ones.”
The report looks at six possible approaches:
* Nutrient fertilization — adding nutrients to the surface of the ocean to increase phytoplankton protosynthesis
* Seaweed cultivation — Farming seaweed that would help move carbon deep below the ocean’s surface
* Ecosystem recovery — Restoring coastal ecosystems
* Ocean alkalinity enhancement — Chemically changing the water in the ocean so it can better absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide
* Electrochemical processes — Figuring out how to pass an electric current through the water to help the ocean better retain CO2
* Artificial upwelling and downwelling — Moving cooler, more nutrient-dense deep water closer to the surface to help phytoplankton grow, or conversely, moving CO2-dense surface water down to the depths.