Humans have always been problem solvers. From the Dark Ages after the fall of Rome to the World Wars, they have been forced to find solutions to myriads of problems, from personal, to economic, to environmental. Today, society’s most pressing global crisis is environmental collapse. As always, we are forced to find a solution.
So far, we have focused primarily on reactive solutions such as electric or hydrogen-fueled cars, as well as carbon taxes. However, as some companies are unwilling to give up their use of carbon, it is time that we focus on proactive solutions. An example of a proactive solution is when Boyan Slat, then a 19 year old Dutchman, used his own initiative to find a method to clean up the islands of plastic waste contaminating the oceans. Likewise, rather than relying just on our governments to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through taxation or cap and trade policies, using modern technologies we must become adept at learning how to contain the carbon dioxide that is already being emitted.
This proactive solution must start some place, so why not the province of British Columbia? Undoubtedly, the province already has enough tools in its environmental arsenal, including environmental programs in every university with the knowledge necessary to take action. They would be joining scientists from many other countries in a global proactive movement to solve the carbon dioxide emission crisis.
Recently, a group of scientists from Australia, China, Germany, and the United States found a way to convert carbon dioxide into solid carbon at room temperature. Incorporating nanotechnology, the group used a highly conductive liquid metal electro-catalyst containing cerium nanoparticles to enhance the process of electro-reduction of carbon dioxide into solid carbon. The solid carbon offers a permanent storage solution, as well as the possibility of being utilized for making “high-performance capacitor electrodes.”
The researchers have published their full paper in the journal Nature Communications under the title “Room temperature CO2 reduction to solid carbon species on liquid metals featuring atomically thin ceria interfaces.”
This example of scientists using nanotechnology shows hope for finding a permanent solution of the world’s carbon dioxide emission crisis. There is still work to be done addressing questions on scalability, commercialization, and safety. Hence, it is the duty of scientists to continue their research in converting carbon dioxide using implementable technology for the protection of the environment. Especially British Columbia, with its long Pacific Ocean coastline, its old growth coastal forests and pristine northern wilderness, has the most to lose from ignoring this technology.
The time for reactive policies is up. It is time to do what humans are best at: problem solving.