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Remove all CO2 added to the air since the Industrial Revolution, in 1-10 years using a forest of synthetic trees



Each of Columbia University geophysicist Klaus Lackner's High Volume Shipping Container synthetic trees removes 90 Kilotons of CO2 per year. Roughly 600-900 Gigatons of CO2 have been added to the air since the Industrial Revolution (IR), thus needing 10 million trees to remove it all in 1 year, or 1 million in 10 years (Al Gore’s timetable) or 0.3 million in 30 years (John Doerr’s timetable). Note that in 2002-2003 China alone added 10 million cars to its roads. Since global ice is melting much faster than predicted, consider the need as urgent & go for the shortest time period doable. Of all global warming/CO2 removal geo-engineering proposals, such as increasing cloud/ice reflectivity, stimulating oceanic plankton blooms or launching orbiting space sunshades, most all of which augur unanticipated & potentially disastrous run-away ecological responses, synthetic trees are the safest because they aren’t ecosystem invasive - serving as a distributed, planetary scale CO2 scrubber, they simply mimic natural tree’s CO2 removal ability & give humanity breathing room to develop & switch to Net 0 CO2 tech. Even if all other reduction schemes fail, the trees will remove all post Industrial Revolution CO2 to the present, can continue to run as a stopgap to remove future global annual contributions, & can be switched off when done.

Category of the Action

Integrated action plan for the world as a whole

What actions do you propose?

With global ice melting far faster than predicted, our plight seems relatively dire & the time to turn things around fairly short. The situation invokes an 11th hour style scenario that we have often encountered throughout history, which seems to serve as a final trigger of sufficient force that invokes a "humanity’s finest hour" response, setting aside differences & rallying the troops into frequently heroic action. Fortunately, thanks to those who have gone before, learning from history we already have a well developed model for response to this most serious threat to the existence of civilization, as well as implementation of an effective Action Plan to win the struggle for survival: World War II, particularly President Roosevelt’s response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor with a declaration of war & military upgrade of his New Deal Program to the renamed “Dr. Win the War” initiative that launched the mobilization of America to convert all factories to the rapid production of war materials, notably among these being industrialist Henry J. Kaiser’s mass-production battleship production facilities at Kaiser Shipyards, belting out a ship in from 2 weeks to (a record of) 4 days.

The following steps to the “firing up” of the synthetic tree forest should be doable within 2 years:

1) Develop a “Dr. Win the War”(against Climate Change) program to implement the project

2) Propose the plan to all the countries of the Earth at the United Nations, as meeting the UN Millennium Development Goals, particularly “Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability

3) Mass produce the trees as we mass produce cars at an auto factory – the tree is far simpler & cheaper than a car. Actually, it may not be required to mobilize an entire country’s factories but instead just a portion, dedicating just some assembly lines, for just a period of time, to produce the needed trees in the recommended timeframe. Further, if there are shutdown auto manufacturing facilities available, for example in the USA at Detroit, Michigan, then retrofit & repurpose the factory’s assembly lines for the project, thus offering the additional benefit of providing jobs for the laid-off autoworker community

4) Distribute mass production of trees according to each country’s global CO2 contribution: ~ (rounded) US 17%, China 26%, India 7%, Russia 5%, Japan 4%, remaining (~190) countries 41%. Additionally, include plans for global distribution, installation & startup

5) Sequestration: Extracted CO2 can either be…

• Resold for industrial use including: drink carbonation; fresh meat/vegetable packing anti-bacterial/oxidation agent; greenhouse fertilization

• Sequestered using gear like Norway’s Statoilhydro Sleipner natural gas offshore CO2 sequestration platform, & stored in areas like the Norwegian North Sea Sleipner West field sea floor porous rock layer, which Statoilhydro Project manager Tore A. Torp estimates is capable of holding 600 Gigatons of CO2

• Possibly removed entirely from the earth by venting into space, through a NASA Space Elevator modified as a “pipeline“, with the elevator’s carbon nanotube belt fabricated as a rectangular or circular tube, utilized as a planetary CO2 “exhaust pipe”. NASA/Marshall's Advanced Projects Office has compiled Space Elevator plans

Where will these actions be taken?

While research, development & production of artificial trees would occur primarily in industrial nations, the location of individual stands of trees comprising the global tree forest would be distributed according to each country’s global CO2 contribution: ~ (rounded) US 17%, China 26%, India 7%, Russia 5%, Japan 4%, remaining (~190) countries 41%. Alternately, to simplify administration, the entire forest may be distributed across fewer sites, starting with the largest polluters & supplanted with several consortiums of smaller contributors, resulting in just 4 sites: US, China, BRICS or India/Russia/Japan consortium & a Remaining Countries consortium locatable in Europe, Africa or Latin America.

Who will take these actions?

 • Government will develop & manage the “Dr. Win the War” programs

• Industry will produce the artificial trees

• Academia will determine the optimum design & distribution of artificial tree stands comprising the global artificial tree forest. Additionally, academia will be tasked with expanding the scope of greenhouse gas removal to include the other even more damaging gasses contributing to the problem, particularly Methane from polar permafrost & potential ocean floor methane hydrate melt, by designing a variant of artificial tree that, instead of filtering out CO2 instead filters Methane – already scientists at Lawrence Livermore have discovered & tested an effective methane-capturing porous adsorbent material called Zeolite SBN

What are key benefits?

The artificial tree forest will restore CO2 to pre-Industrial Revolution levels in 1 to 10 years, & can be kept running to keeps things that way for the foreseeable future.The worst consequences of climate change – melting ice, rising seas, super storms, heat waves, drought & crop failure, along with their combined contribution to governmental overwhelming, societal collapse & resultant political instability – can be interrupted &, with sufficient commitment to repair & restoration, backed out, the closer to normal the sooner we start with the larger of forests.

What are the proposal’s costs?

Professor Lackner estimates each High Volume Shipping Container synthetic tree costs about $20,000 to manufacture, the price of a low cost car. For the “10 million trees to remove it all in 1 year” plan, & noting as before that “in 2002-2003 China alone added 10 million cars to its roads”, the cost would be the value of China’s car production for that 1 year for low cost cars.

The total GLOBAL BILL for the 3 plans are…

1) 10 M / 1 Yr = $10 M x $ 20K = $ 200 B *

2) 1 M / 10 Yr = $ 1 M x $ 20K = $ 20 B *

3) 0.3 M / 30 Yr = $ 0.3M x $ 20K = $ 6B *

* with, again, the totals divided among nations according to each country’s global CO2 contribution, so for the “10 million trees plan”, of the $200B global total, the country payments are US (17%) = $ 34B (about 0.9% of the total US 2012 budget); China (26%) = $ 52B; India (7%) = $ 14B; Russia (5%) = $ 10B; Japan (4%) = $ 8B, remaining (~190) countries (41%) = $ 82B

Time line

The term of the actions is determined by the size of the artificial tree forest chosen, the 3 footprints herein (“10 million trees to remove it all in 1 year, or 1 million in 10 years (Al Gore’s timetable) or 0.3 million in 30 years (John Doerr’s timetable”)), with the recommendation that, because of the lateness of the hour, the urgency of the situation & particularly due to having blown past such tipping points as loss of the Western Antarctic Ice Shelf & exceeding the UN IPCC recommended safe level of atmospheric CO2 350 PPM, now past 400 for over a year, that the situation is dire & so the most rapid short term plan is urged, phased in by mass producing the trees, installing the forest & switching on the system as soon as possible.


• Carbon Rights (), where it reads "Based on research by Klaus Lackner..."

• Cycling Carbon (), where it reads "Klaus Lackner’s "artificial tree" system..."

How do these sub-proposals fit together?

A primary aim of this proposal is to supplant the many lines of attacking the CO2 problem with an alternative approach. So many plans involve long lists of actions to be coordinated across many different agencies, while many others require profound changes to a country’s governmental, societal, technological & infrastructural dimensions, including requiring many turn-on-a-dime developments of new, un-time-tested technologies to be swapped in place of old; meanwhile powerful fundamentalist-like science & climate denial lobbyist groups approach majority power, while BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) continue their massive & full-scale development towards total Industrialization, with the remaining developing nations waiting in the wings to launch same, even as countries & multinational companies eagerly eye the vast profits to be made mining the remaining planetary ground & arctic fossil fuel reserves. This proposal does not require or rely upon the success of any CO2 reduction scheme, nor does it deem likely that remaining fossil fuel will go undeveloped & that developing nations will curtail their development programs. This proposal’s alternative approach is that it recommends a single, relatively simple, direct & failsafe method of CO2 removal regardless of source or quantity, thereby providing countries the time to make the changes to renewable/sustainable technologies & meet the UN IPCC goals without damaging their economies.

Explanation of model inputs



• Global Warming/Climates Change Consequences: “The Coming ‘Perfect Storm’ of Natural Disasters” (


Artificial Trees: Video (, Articles (,,,
•• How Professor Lackner got the idea OR “How An 8th Grade Pre-Teen Girl’s Science Fair Project Saved The World” (

• ”X-Prize” (Lackner's artificial tree startup Kilimanjaro Energy a finalist in Virgin Earth Challenge’s $25-million Prize for CO2 reduction tech): Virgin Earth Challenge (, Finalists (, Kilimanjaro Energy (

• CO2 added to Atmosphere since…: Industrial Revolution (, 2004 Annually (

• “Ocean Overturn” (seafloor CO2/methane release, as similarly occurs in lakes): BBC “Killer Lakes” (, video (

• Methane Capture: Lawrence Livermore (

• Space Elevator: Description (, Details (

• Al Gore Rolling Stone articles: “Turning Point” (, “New Math” (, “Scorched Earth” (

• USA Budget: 2013 (
• President Roosevelt: “Dr. Win the War” (



Dr. Klaus Lackner, PhD, the Maurice Ewing and J. Lamar Worzel Professor of Geophysics, Earth and Environmental Engineering, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, Columbia University, USA ( and Director ( of the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy ( at Columbia University’s Earth Institute Kilimanjaro Energy, Inc. ( Founder (, participated as a lead author on the 443 pg IPCC Report on Carbon Capture and Storage (

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