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Year: 2011  |  Volume: 1  |  Issue: 1  |  Page No.: 23 - 30

The White Cliffs of Dover are an Example of Natural Carbon Sequestration

Michael Witty    

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to review carbon sequestration by coccolithophores and consider it as a controllable technology. Recent research suggesting runaway global warming has inspired some scientists to propose methods to intervene in global geochemical processes and prevent future catastrophes. These include schemes to sequester carbon dioxide under oceans, use of orbiting mirrors to reflect energy into space before it can heat the atmosphere or seeding the atmosphere with sulfur compounds which precipitate clouds and reflect radiant energy. However, diverse scientific literature shows there is no agreement on the best methods to attempt and very little empirical experimentation to suggest which are practical. Additionally, there are some unexpected consequences suggested by critics which show many proposals for global geochemical engineering are fraught with danger and that they effectively replace one problem with another, rather than improve matters. However, geochemical systems are in stable equilibrium with each other and for that reason doing nothing may be the best tactic for global geochemical engineering. Geologic history has shown that natural processes give negative feedback to perturbations in the atmosphere, attenuating runaway global warming without human intervention and the White Cliffs of Dover are a great example of this. Control of calcite formation from coccoliths is a complex problem beyond our present technology.

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