Can giving the ocean an antacid help curb climate change?
The ocean plays a critical role in curbing climate change. Like forests and wetlands, it naturally recycles carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at a massive scale.
Burt works for Planetary Technologies, a Canadian startup that’s attempting to harness and accelerate that potential by adding antacid powder to the ocean.
The theory goes that by altering seawater chemistry, the ocean’s surface could absorb far more atmospheric carbon than it does naturally.
The company is developing an approach that would turn the waste products from shuttered mines into an alkaline powder. They would deliver it into the water via existing pipes from wastewater treatment or energy plants to avoid having to build new infrastructure.
The technique is one of a growing number of strategies aimed at leveraging the ocean, which covers 70% of Earth’s surface, in the fight against climate change. In 2021, the National Academies of Science published a landmark report advocating further research into ocean-based carbon removal methods, in light of the growing scientific consensus that reducing emissions alone will not be enough to stave off the devastating effects of climate change.