Nine reasons to love olivine

1. Do you feel that Ocean Acidification is an urgent issue, with its effects on shells, coral reefs, fish, as it will devastate the ocean biosphere?

The largest scale option to implement Olivine weathering would be on beaches and in shallow seas. This could locally neutralise the CO2 dissolved in the water and turn it into bicarbonate. On time scales of centuries, this bicarbonate is used by shells, coral and various types of plankton to build their carbonate shells.

2. Are you worried that action to decarbonize our global energy system and economy is not moving ahead quick enough?

Enhanced Weathering at large scale has the potential to neutralise enough of the excess CO2 to compensate for a global economy that will take a long time to stop emitting large quantities of CO2 that can lead to dangerous climate change.

3. Are you worried about your local economy that still depends a lot on producing or burning fossil fuels?

Enhanced Weathering could in principle neutralise a significant fraction of the CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels. At a cost, of course. So it would be no excuse to completely avoid the necessary transition. But it would make it easier. Enhanced weathering would make it possible to really compensate for emissions of transport and airlines. By sequestering the CO2, in a safe way, for ever!


4. Are you a proponent of the idea that CO2 emissions need to be priced (by a tax, or a cap & trade system)?

Enhanced Weathering is potentially the cheapest way to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and oceans. The price is so low, that if this option were available, it could set the standard, and set the price. At a very reasonable level.

5. Do you worry CCS will be necessary, but that it seems very expensive, and may not be safe?

Carbon Capture and Storage (or Utilisation) is a technique where the CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels in e.g. a large power station or a steel mill are concentrated, purified, pressured, and pumped through pipes to a place where the CO2 can be pushed at high pressure down into the earth.

This method has the support of the fossil fuel companies, as they see it as a way to give their fossil fuels a life extension. However, it is still very expensive, and in practice it has been very difficult to make it work economically. And where it is economic, that is only because it is utilised for enhanced recovery of more oil or gas. Which means that more CO2 will again be emitted anyway.

There is no need to store the actual CO2 emitted from a specific source. The CO2 quickly spreads through the whole atmosphere. It is good enough to remove it at any convenient location. And in this sense, Enhanced Weathering of Olivine is method that would compete directly with CCS.

We estimate that Enhanced Weathering can neutralise CO2 by converting it chemically, which will safely remove it for geological time scales. It will also be cheaper. With this option, there may be no more need for CCS.

6. Do you feel that Carbon Dioxide Removal schemes are technocratic and risky geo-engineering?

Not so! Enhanced Weathering is the method that mother earth has used for millions, billions of years. There are natural Olivine beaches in Hawaii and Turkey, and nature is thriving. In regions with natural Olivine rock, farmers grow their crops, drink the mineral water, and are healthy, already thousands of years. This suggests that Olivine Weathering is quite probably safe to deploy at large scales. Even very large scales.

7. Are you afraid that the existence of the Olivine option may be an excuse to slow down the necessary decarbonization of the world economy?

This seems an unlikely risk. But it is clear that anything will be employed as an excuse to avoid climate action.  The answer is to push for action, all solutions, in general.  And that includes Olivine Weathering.  Luckily there is large and growing support for decarbonizing the world economy. Renewable energy sources are being deployed at an exponentially growing scale. Change is happening. It won’t stop. But we should indeed worry that the burning of fossil fuels is not being phased out quickly enough to prevent dangerous climate change and acidification of the seas and oceans, with all tragic consequences. The Olivine method is still in its infancy. It needs to be researched more, deployed at small scale, and scaled up to scales where it will matter.

8. Are you into mining, bulk shipping, large scale offshore building or engineering, building special-purpose ships?

Enhanced Weathering may eventually scale up to become a large enough economic activity to be a very attractive addition to your portfolio. Look into this option now!

9 Are you a farmer? Are you into producing biogas? Are you into other side benefits?

Olivine can be used to neutralise soils that are too acid. Adding it to biogas digesters can improve the mix produced gas-mix by reducing CO2 and even increasing methane. There is a long list of examples where Olivine can be implemented at relatively small scale, but with significant side benefits to business, in addition to neutralising CO2!