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Professor and climate change activist Tim Flannery believes that massive farms of seaweed, a crop with enormous carbon sequestration capabilities, could potentially draw enough carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in a short enough time frame to mitigate some of the worst effects of climate change. Flannery acknowledges that his radical approach could raise some negative externalities, and sweeping carbon under the ocean isn’t a permanent solution. But for those who worry that the climate crisis is a lost cause, he offers reassurance that climate change is a soluble issue.

Summary

Solving the climate crisis entails cutting greenhouse emissions while also removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Alas, society has largely overlooked the latter aspect: drawdown. Apathy regarding the climate crisis has persevered for so long that the world can no longer ignore the challenge of carbon sequestration.

To effectively mitigate the worst effects of climate change, the world must reduce emissions by 3% per year while extracting CO2 at a rate of three gigatons per year until 2200. Although both chemical and biological processes can accomplish drawdown, the biological solutions are most viable. They harness photosynthesis to capture and store carbon in an efficient, sustainable way. Chemical solutions, meanwhile, are still in their infancy and require a decade or more of research before...

About the Speaker

Explorer and environmentalist Tim Flannery has served on the boards of WWF International and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy. He has worked as an adviser to the National Geographic Society.


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