Instead of pumping C02 into the ground we can just mix it with seawater to create something that resembles coral, a substance that is harmless to the earth and and can be useful for creating building materials. From Thomas Friedman:
If you combine CO2 with seawater, or any kind of briny water, you produce CaCO3, calcium carbonate. That is not only the stuff of corals. It is also the same white, pasty goop that appears on your shower head from hard (calcium-rich) water. At its demonstration plant near Santa Cruz, Calif., Calera has developed a process that takes CO2 emissions from a coal- or gas-fired power plant and sprays seawater into it and naturally converts most of the CO2 into calcium carbonate, which is then spray-dried into cement or shaped into little pellets that can be used as concrete aggregates for building walls or highways — instead of letting the CO2 emissions go into the atmosphere and produce climate change.
If this can scale, it would eliminate the need for expensive carbon-sequestration facilities planned to be built alongside coal-fired power plants — and it might actually make the heretofore specious notion of “clean coal” a possibility.
Assuming it is scientifically possible and economically viable:
– Reduced demand for conglomerates used in concrete lessens environmental damage from rock quarries (assuming coal plants produce this coral cheaply) and reduces holes in mountains
– Increased demand for coal provides incentive for finding cheap coal by using cheaper extraction processes, leading to blowing up mountains for it and increases holes in mountains
Oh well, less carbon is still a pareto efficient outcome in my book. Maybe in a quest for economies of scale, coal plants can start to diversify their carbon sequestration technologies from creating building materials to providing C02 in my soda.* Mmmmm…coal’d soda…
*I think the industry already does this but I could be wrong…