EarthLabs > Climate and the Carbon Cycle: Unit Overview > Lab 8: Balancing the Carbon Cycle: Finding Solutions with Technology > 8B: What Will Work?

Balancing the Carbon Cycle: Finding Solutions with Technology

Part B: What will work? Evaluating New and Developing Carbon Reduction Design and Technology

The following authentic assessment asks you to take on the role of a blogger evaluating some of the new carbon reduction technology.

The Scenario:

You have just graduated from college with a degree in journalism and an interest in climate science and technology. After spending several weeks sending out resumes' to various newspapers, scientific journals, websites and blogs, you hear from WIRED - a prestigious magazine and on-line periodical that reports on how new and developing technology affects culture, politics and the economy. WIRED is looking for someone with a background in blogging and climate science to start a new blog on its-one line site. You can review current blogs by WIRED science bloggers here

Additionally, WIRED is a partner in ClimateDesk a journalistic on-line collaboration dedicated to exploring the impact—human, environmental, economic, political—of a changing climate. The individual that WIRED hires would be expected to contribute stories to ClimateDesk in addition to their blogging responsibilities. WIRED has asked you to come in for a first interview and to bring a portfolio of your writing samples to the interview. In addition, WIRED has asked you to write a short piece on a new and promising design or technology that claims to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and thus mitigate the impact of present and future climate change. You will present your blog to an interview team at your first interview. At the end of the presentation, your interview team, comprised of your classmates, your teacher and perhaps others, will ask you questions about the design and technology.

WIRED has e-mailed you instructions for your blog presentation:
Choose a design or technology from any of the categories: Carbon Capture and Storage, Natural Carbon Sequestration, or Energy Efficiency.

In a blog no longer than 5 paragraphs and including two visuals, report the following:

Choosing a design or practice:

1. First, choose a design topic you are interested in. If you are interested in energy, look for a design in that area. Perhaps you are interested in forests! Then you might want to look for reforestation practices. Perhaps your family just purchased a hybrid car! Then you might want to choose a topic in transportation. If you live on a farm or like to garden, then agricultural practices might interest you.

2. Be specific. Choose a design or technology developed by a specific entity, such as a company, government agency, or university.

3. Don't choose a product such as an energy-saving air conditioner. You want to be able to explain how the design process works to reduce carbon and simply choosing a product won't give you that information.

4. Look to see if any designs or technologies are being developed or already in use near where you live - for example at a local university. If so, you can call and get information.

5. A regional focus may interest you. There are many organizations that are involved in regional projects. Regional projects can be local - as in the Syracuse New York urban reforestation project - or multi-state as in Blue-Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership

6. Look for Hot Topics! Here are some hot topics that may give you ideas.

Energy Efficiency/Renewable Energy topics:

Fuel efficient cars and trucks, green building designs, microgeneration, geothermal energy and other green technology. Renewable energy such as hydroelectricity, solar, tidal, wind, bio-fuels

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) topics:

Carbon that has been captured from power plants or other industries can be stored in rock layers and in ocean sediments. CO2can also be stored in minerals when CO2 is purposely chemically reacted with a substance such as olivine to create carbonates. You already observed this in the soil respiration experiment when you reacted CO2with limewater (calcium hydroxide and water) to form calcium carbonate and water. CCS technology can be applied to power plants. Biofixation using micro-algae is a new type of carbon capture and storage.

For many ideas, see Wikipedia on Carbon Capture and Storage Wikipedia - Carbon Capture and Storage

Natural Carbon Sequestration(Biostorage)topics:

Reforestation, tree plantations, biochar, no-till agriculture, iron and nutrient fertilization in oceans, wildfire forest management,

Note: Some interesting topics such as artificial(synthetic trees) do not fit neatly into a specific category but still can be used.

Looking for information: Here are some websites that may give you some ideas and get you started.

Switch to a Smarter Energy Future. Th Switch website has small videos that reviews the basic components of all type of energy, including pros and cons. There are links to other major energy resources as well.

NASA Energy Innovations
Department of Energy

MIT - Links to CCS sources

Zero CO2 - CCS

popular science

NETL: The Energy Lab (CCS)

Energy Planet

Renewable Energy World

Science and Technology

Alternative Energy News

World Organizations and Energy

Sequestration at MIT

ScienceDaily Type in a tag (example biofuels, hybrid cars, wind farms, carbon capture, green technology) and click on number of years in past (5 years recommended).

escience News Type in a tag (example biofuels, hybrid cars, wind farms, carbon capture, green technology etc.)

Discussion and Critique

The level of atmospheric CO2 is close to 400 ppm and continues to rise. Carbon reduction design and technology can be costly so organizations and governments must choose wisely. Take on the role of a government or an organization. Which of the designs or technologies described by your peers should your government or organization invest in? Why?

  • Choose two of the best carbon reduction designs or technologies described by your classmates during their presentations.
  • Compare and contrast the two best designs in terms of their potential to reduce carbon emissions from their current levels to 350 ppm or perhaps even lower. Why should your government or organization invest in these two carbon reduction designs and technologies compared to the others that were presented?

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