Happy Earth Day

I just did a show at an Earth Day celebration in Tarzana. Great fun! All that information about the environment reminded me of a discussion from a while back on Facebook. A friend had posted a link to an article about new technologies for reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. I learned that some engineers are coming up with innovative ways to “scrub” this greenhouse gas from the air in hopes of stopping, or at least slowing, the effects of climate change. After reading about all these great new ways to sequester carbon dioxide I posted the following reply:

“Big deal. I already have on my property about a dozen carbon sequestration devices that not only draw carbon dioxide from the air; they actually crack the CO2 molecule, storing the carbon and releasing the oxygen right back into the atmosphere. They are solar powered, self-replicating, and sufficiently durable that children can climb on them without causing serious damage.”

I thought I was being pretty clever here but to my surprise, several friends expressed skepticism. Another asked how much these devices cost and what sort of maintenance they require.

I posted again. “Installation was easy and required no manual. For that matter, the previous owners of the house left several units on the property when they moved away; I guess they figured it wasn’t worth the hassle of removing them. They are surprisingly cheap, blend well with my landscaping, and require very little upkeep. I can handle most of the maintenance myself with basic tools, though I do occasionally call a professional for the larger models.”

Another skeptic: Don’t these things degrade over time, what with being out in the weather and all?

“In fact, rain appears to improve their efficiency. Age does not appear to degrade them; on the contrary, the older units appear to be storing even more carbon than the new ones. They work pretty reliably, though some models stop working in the winter. I figure that’s a regional software issue.”

There were now some people posting LOL, ;), and other expressions of amusement. But others remained unconvinced.

More questions: Do these things comply with local building codes? Are they safe? Any toxic byproducts?

“In most cases they do comply with local building codes. In fact, some of the more rare models are protected by law so you’re not supposed to remove them.” I figured I should be honest about all the downsides so I kept going. “I’ve heard that poor maintenance may result in property damage or fire hazard. Several models can trigger allergic reactions in sensitive people, but there’s medication for that. As for safety, my brother once broke his arm using one but I don’t think he was following instructions. A few types produce toxic byproducts, but you should be safe as long as you don’t ingest them. Most models are so benign they can be safely used for construction or other purposes, and some even produce byproducts that are perfectly safe for children to eat. If you’re not sure which ones are okay to eat, you can always ask a doctor.”

This was all sobering information, but most people agreed it sounded like a device they wanted on their property, at least on a trial basis. So, where can we get some of these carbon sequestration devices?

“Oh,” I said. “That’s easy.”

Happy Earth Day, everyone.