Venting Our (Carbon Dioxide) Problems into Space (TreeHugger)

Venting Our (Carbon Dioxide) Problems into Space (TreeHugger)
by Jeremy Elton Jacquot, Los Angeles on 06. 3.07
Science & Technology

This week’s issue of The Economist reports on an interesting scheme proposed by Alfred Y. Wong, professor of physics and director of the Plasma Physics Laboratory at the University of California, Los Angeles, to rid the Earth of carbon dioxide emissions. Wong posits that a conveyor built in the Arctic could take advantage of the Earth’s magnetic field to expel emissions into outer space.

[SNIP] .. Read the whole article by clicking the link above… [/SNIP]

If only the astronauts in Apollo 13 had thought of that! Venting the atmosphere into space solves all your space problems. Sure, we are on a planet; but a planet is just a really, really, really big self-sustaining space ship that uses a gravity core to maintain atmosphere instead of a hull.

I’m sorry, I just can’t believe this idea is getting any serious traction. It’s the sort of idea that sounds good at first, but in the end is no better than dumping waste into the ocean or airborne pollutants into the atmosphere. Sure, the ocean is big, and the atmosphere is huge, but that doesn’t mean they are infinite. You can’t vent the Earth’s CO2 into space long term any more than you can dump mercury salts into the ocean, and not expect to cause long term harm.

Oxygen == Life. NASA has spent a lot of money researching the viability of extracting O2 from moon rocks, because O2 is necessary for Life. Carbon is also necessary to life. Plants extract Carbon from CO2 as a basic building block of their chemistry. We can not afford to vent the natural resources of Life on Planet Earth into space! For every molecule of CO2 ejected into space we lose, forever, a molecule of life sustaining Oxygen!

Wouldn’t it be better, and smarter, to be replanting lost forests and jungles, reducing our consumption of fossil fuels, and working on new ways to extract Carbon from CO2?

We are, for now at least, permanent residents of Planet Earth. We can not afford to continue acting like our resources are unlimited. We can’t afford to vent our atmosphere into space, any more than the astronauts of Apollo 13 could have.

-Chris Knight

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