natural capital for a richer life




Out of balance: the problem
Global warming is one of the greatest challenges mankind faces. By now, enough scientific knowledge has been gathered to accept that the rise in the earth's surface temperature is caused by the increase in greenhouse gases, a consequence of human activity. Burning fossil fuels, over a relatively short period compared with how long it took the earth to form these fuels, has raised CO2 emissions to ten times what they were. Out of all the greenhouse gases, CO2 is one of the most significant, making up 76% of emissions. A higher proportion of CO2 leads to the earth's average temperature being higher. The most significant consequences of this are an increase in extreme weather conditions, such as tropical storms, heatwaves, drought and flooding, and a rise in sea level due to the melting of the ice caps.
Restoring the balance: the solution

Prof. Dr. R.D. Schuiling has introduced a method of bringing the CO2 content in the atmosphere back down.

Schuiling makes use of naturally occurring processes which affect the level of CO2. Since the last ice age, the CO2 content in the atmosphere has remained level at around 260 ppm (parts per million). There are natural processes which put CO2 into the atmosphere and others which remove CO2 from it. The planet introduces approximately two and a half billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year, through (amongst other things) volcanic eruptions. Around the same quantity is taken back out of the atmosphere , for example by living organisms such as shellfish which use CO2 from the atmosphere.

What is less well known is that through the weathering of rocks, approximately the same amount of CO2 is removed from the atmosphere as is added to it by natural processes.

Weathering is where an acid is neutralised by the minerals in a rock. The CO2 first becomes bicarbonate in water and eventually, much later on, forms limestone and dolomite somewhere in the sea. The CO2 is safely stored for long geological periods.

By burning fossil fuels we have increased the amount of CO2 introduced into the atmosphere by a factor of ten. 

We can compensate for the increase in CO2 by speeding up the natural weathering process where necessary.

One mineral that occurs in large quantities on the earth is olivine, a green magnesium silicate with some iron. This mineral is unstable in the presence of water and CO2. The reaction is as follows:

Mg2SiO4 + 4CO2 + 4H2O → 2Mg2+ + 4HCO3- + H4SiO40

In this way, the greenhouse gas CO2 is converted into bicarbonate.

The weathering process takes place on the surface of the rocks. The amount of CO2 which is removed from the atmosphere each year therefore depends on the available surface of the reactive minerals. By milling olivine rocks, we enlarge their surface area and speed up the weathering process. Sprinkling olivine powder on places where it comes in contact with air and moisture accelerates the weathering process even more.

The challenge

The proposed solution is a sustainable and relatively simple way to resolve the problem of CO2.
Bringing it about is an enormous challenge. The Olivine-Group, under which the different sections of greenSand fall, has begun to tackle this challenge and has set itself the aim of addressing the problem of CO2, with everybody's help, beginning with the solution suggested here: olivine.

greenSand develops ideas and olivine products for governments, social organisations, companies and consumers so that they too can do their bit against global warming.

Nature heals itself

'If we spread 0,12 mm olivine around the world every year, the climate problem would be resolved'

Olaf Schuiling

Atelier Middenmeer

Bob Crebas Netl Park