I have some personal experience with David Keith who seems to be a nexus kin within the world of geoengineering. The difference is he claims to be the proud father of the term geoengineering itself, and I am displeased with the term being hung round my neck. But then again David is an engineer and I am an ecologist so perhaps that is all the explanation needed.
I met David a few years back in the backstage “green-room” in New York City as we were preparing to go on stage that evening as speakers for a TED event. TED talks are high priced ticket speaker events on worldly topics that the intelligentsia and cognoscenti of technology and science like to attend. David, myself, Marty Hofferet, and another fellow were speakers. Marty is one of the fathers of climate change and geoengineering advocacy. David is institutional as in a professor at MIT (Harvard) and supported by Bill Gates institutional wolrd. Me, I am an old grandfather hippy treeplanter who has spent a life time living outside of the box, with some bit of help from folks inside said box. ( ed note: In a previous version of this post I mistakingly presented Wally Broecker as being at that Ted Event, I plead what must have been a senior moment as I wrote this up mistakingly recalling that Marty was Wally, the other man speaking and arguing about cause and cures of climate change in the green room was Michael Oppenheimer of the environmental defense fund.)
What transpired in the “green room” started out as a friendly exchange of views but rapidly moved into a more argumentative discussion that rapidly moved into protests over territories and entitlement. My premise, now proven beyond any shadow of doubt in what some call the world’s largest “geoengineering” experiment, was that the cost of dealing with anthropogenic CO2 must be and can be a tiny fraction of the cost demanded by those working in the field inside the box.
Our work to restore salmon populations just worked. In Alaska in the fall of 2013 the largest catch of salmon in all of history was made. That pasture fed salmon bounty came about by our intentionally re-purposing millions of tonnes of CO2 from its death dealing form into life itself. It’s good to now have the bragging rights amongst my august colleagues that night in New York as results speak more convincingly than ideas.
Where they are presenting ideas and inventions that require hundreds of billions, even trillions, to solve the crisis of anthropogenic CO2 I was and am saying that the cost needs to be mere millions. Where they are stating that the problem of anthropogenic CO2 is a very long term slow centuries long exacerbating problem. I was and am saying that in the more than 70% blue ocean part of this planet ecosystems, our CO2 is an immediate cataclysmic problem that is geoengineering the ocean environment to death and will likely complete the death blow in a matter of a few decades.
You can imagine the sparks were flying. I was asserting that we might forget about the long term problems of CO2 and the hundred of billions and trillions needed to be given to professors and engineers, if we do not first deal with the immediate crisis of the first lethal overdose of deadly CO2 now killing life in the oceans.
By the reaction of David and Wally you’d have thought they caught me with my hand in their cookie jar. Worse I wasn’t anywhere near their cookie jar. I was near to delivering (now delivered) a solution that would make their cash cow dry right up. And we all know you can’t eat cookies without milk. They’ve been tongue lashing me ever since.
So some time has passed since that New York City TED evening, and David Keith’s engineering prototype artificial trees are being readied for a test. If the test works perhaps the world will pour more money into a larger test. He only needs hundreds of dollars per tonne value for the CO2 his artificial trees chemically engineer out of the air.
In the meantime the tiny native village I’ve been working with has last year replenished and restored it’s traditional ocean pasture and in doing so captured tens of millions of tonnes of CO2. Even better those tens of millions of tonnes of CO2 have been converted into an even greater mass of living biomass, plankton, many people call it fish food!
And the cost to the village project mere pennies per tonne. Saving the world one village at a time is practical and immediately possible. At a fraction of a percent of the cost of David’s artificial trees, already in perfect fully operational condition, turning CO2 from its deadly form into life itself.
The NY Times reported in January 2013 that on a round trip ticket between New York and Europe each passengers carbon footprint would be 2-3 tonnes of CO2.
At David’s $200/tonne cost to produce that would mean $400-$600 extra per passenger, looking at present day carbon prices which retail for about double the cost to produce, that ticket surcharge rises to $800-$1200 per ticket.
Just look at today’s air fares between NYC and Paris pulled from a link on the NYTimes web page and do the hypothetical math to make those flights carbon neutral.
United $1,129…w/Keith’s CO2 offset $2,329…w/Village CO2 offset $1,159
Don’t forget the delicious wild salmon in flight meal you get with the village ocean pasture solution that brings back the fish.
The NY Times clearly believes that the right thing to do is to “make money, save a little world on the side”. And they will promote anyone who advocates higher margins, and slap down anyone who dares lower their cut.
But read the stories about the artificial trees below. We may still need them. Not sure if we can afford them.
Pulling Carbon Dioxide Out of Thin Air
NYT: January 5, 2013
David Keith’s Artificial Trees
Carbon Engineering, formed in 2009 with $3.5 million from Bill Gates and others, created prototypes for parts of its cleanup system in 2011 and 2012 at its plant in Calgary, Alberta. The company, which recently closed a $3 million second round of financing, plans to build a complete pilot plant by the end of 2014 for capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, said David Keith, its president and a Harvard professor who has long been interested in climate issues.
The carbon-capturing tools that Carbon Engineering and other companies are designing have made great strides in the last two years, said Timothy A. Fox, head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London.
“There is a lot of speculation of how much it will actually cost,” he said, with estimates from $20 a ton to as much as $2,000. “We won’t know for sure until someone builds a pilot plant.” (An average passenger vehicle generates about five tons of carbon dioxide a year.)
Dr. Keith says he thinks it may be possible to lower the cost of capture toward $100 a ton as the company grows.
May 4, 2010
Artificial tree becomes carbon castle
Huge machines that suck millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year are set to become weapons in the fight against climate change. That’s the vision of scientists at Canadian company Carbon Engineering, which hopes to use existing technologies to scavenge the greenhouse gas on a massive scale. “It’s not unobtanium, it’s not magic, it’s just heavy industry,” said David Keith, a founder of the company.
“We’re talking about building things that cost billions and we have millions,” Keith told environmentalresearchweb. “So, we’re going to build a facility that will operate outside [of a lab] for a year, so we can raise funding for a full industrial pilot. We want to come up with a design whose risk and cost estimates are believed.”
Keith noted that the costs of air capture have been exaggerated by both its supporters and opponents, resulting in extreme estimates of $20 to $1000 per tonne of carbon dioxide. He says that his personal goal is to produce an “unequivocally industrial design” that can deliver a cost below $200/tonne. “I think that we can beat that, but even if it’s up there I think people will say, ‘Do you know what? This is doable.'”
Read more at environmentalresearchweb.