Dear Tyler (writes Edwin Meath of Sarasota FL):
I keep seeing news pieces like this one that claims some little machine removes carbon from the air equivalent to a small forest of trees. How does that work?
As time goes on, expect to see numerous companies making these ridiculous claims, because lies like this are a great way to attract investment capital to finance their early retirement to a country with no extradition treaties. Always ask yourself: where does it put all this carbon? An ACRE of trees? 400 trees? Equivalent to a four foot cube?
Roughly 50% of a tree is carbon. I’m looking out my window right now at ONE TREE that’s far larger than 63 cubic feet. Its LEAVES are larger than that. And much of the tree is underground. And of course only a small part of the bioreactor is captured carbon. Mostly it’s air and metal and glass and water. It looks like it might contain a few pounds of algae if you scoop it all out and press the water out of it. Let’s be super generous and say 10 pounds. Based on the instructions I find online, I estimate the tree outside my windows weighs about 60,000 lbs. To capture as much carbon as that one tree has, you would have to empty the bioreactor 6,000 times. Let’s again be super generous and assume the algae regrows completely in one week, so you can harvest it all every Tuesday, and that you sequester all that algae somewhere instead of returning the carbon to the environment, as you would by eating it, for instance. In 115 years of weekly, labor-intensive, messy, energy-consuming growing and harvesting, you might have captured as much carbon as this one tree has, with no labor and no connection to a power grid. Want to guess how old the tree is? I’ll give you a hint: less than 115 years.
And that’s ONE TREE.
So here’s a hint: ditch the freakin’ bioreactor and plant a damn acorn.