Binding Carbon by Artificially Illuminating the Dark Undersea

Yes – climate change can collapse of modernity, civilization, democracy, affluence and major parts of Earth’s biosphere. Climate change can catastrophically disrupt current weather patterns. The resulting climate chaos can destroy our current achievements of modern society.  It can reduce civilization to endless warring states caught in irreversible war and barbarism. It can end democracy and enter western society into endless cycles of economic collapse, austerity, poverty, authoritarianism, police repression, racism and far right populism. And yes, climate change runs the risk of runaway effects that can lose us the vast majority of animal species on the planet.

This is unacceptable.

There is however a feasible solution and it’s relatively simple – but it will cost the world’s economies considerable energy resources. 

Illuminating the dark

If we were to introduce LED illumination in the sea to below where sunlight naturally penetrates to allow for photosynthesis, we can in effect introduce fotosynthesis there. This depth is something like 200 meters (The “Dysphotic zone”), which is not super deep. In many places world wide these regions  in the sea are currently already severely Anoxic, i.e. they are dead regions, as they are poisoned by dead algic material raining down from above, triggering decay processes that remove all oxygen. By introducing illumination there you effectively introduce oxygenation there. Anoxic regions in the Earth’s inland seas and oceans are literally clogged up with precursors to photosynthesis, so by illuminating these waters expect very fast turning global warming gasses (in particilar CO2 and Methane) dissolved in these waters to turn to algae, consequtively to animal life. This animal life could then be harvested for commercial applications, and the entire process would bind CO2 dissolved in sea-water into carbon materials. 

The process requires the placement of floating structures on the sea surface, extending cables and support infrastructure down to maybe as deep as a kilometer, place extensive LED illumination panels at regular intervals, plus the systems to raise these or otherwise clean these from being barnacled over. We can place netting around these illumination towers where fish or other sea life can move in, but it can’t move out and we can at regular interval raise these nettings and harvest what’s caught inside. 

This may seem an daunting proposition, but let me compare it to what’s already being undertaken in industrial projects. Right now Singapore is constructing solar farms in australia and laying undersea cable through the straight of Timor for a depth of over 2 kilometers. This more or less proves that if we are willing to invest the structural resources to place the required illumination in undersea environments, we have the know-how and technological capability to do so in practical terms. 

If we seed seawater with fine iron pellets, the result is to fertillize the sea water and trigger significantly faster plant growth. This has been a well-known fact for decades. Combined with introducing artificial illumination, the resulting capture of dissolved CO2 in sea water could leave a considerable impact on CO2 causing havoc on the world’s climate.

We of course have to place these structures in relatively calm seas, or to construct these structures in a way they are not destroyed by stormy weather. 

Capture Quota

Having established all of the above, we must conclude that the end result of this knowledge is that all countries of the world that can be reasonably expected to invest in these technologies can be made to do so, as a function of their CO2 emissions, their populations, and their economic might. Countries that have high relative populations, produce a lot of emissions, and are relatively rich should face consequences through binding international treaties if they do not capture sufficient CO2. To capture CO2 for countries that do not want to reduce or are unable to reduce emissions may become obligatory. That also means that landlocked rich countries may thus be forced to rent the coastal regions of countries with easy access to suitable aquatic regions and have them build the infrastructure to bind CO2 in the described manner.  This could contribute greatly to the need to harvest solar energy in well illuminated climates, lead that energy to the sea, and use a reasonable energy quotum to construct undersea CO2 binding infrastructure. Any profits then made by resulting turning sea life into industrial products or food would be a bonus.