Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mechanical Trees, Electric Monks

Proposed mechanical trees and wind trubines along highway, Aug. 27, 2009 (BBC)

(BBC Radio) If you thought geo-engineering was the stuff of science fiction -- all giant sun shades in space -- think again. The Institution of Mechanical Engineers has produced a report focusing on practical geo-engineering solutions that are either available now or soon will be.

The report lays out a 100-year road map to "de-carbonize" the global economy. The vision includes forests of artificial trees built along motorways, shiny silver roofs that reflect sunlight, and algal bio-reactors running up the sides of buildings. Some climate scientists say we may only have a few decades left to avoid dangerous climate change, but geo-engineering -- the idea of redressing the balance of the atmosphere by blocking the suns rays, or siphoning off harmful greenhouse gases -- could buy us more time.

Artificial trees do pretty much the same job as real trees, absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere, but up to a thousand times more efficiently. The Institution's Dr. Tim Fox claims a single artificial tree could remove as much as ten tons of carbon a day. And just 100,000 units would be enough to capture the UK's entire transport emissions. More>>

If mechanical trees are the future, we'd better get to work on those electric monks a prescient Douglas Adams foresaw so they can sit under them and meditate. More>>