10 Planet Hacking Schemes -- No. 9: Fake Plastic Trees

Can science help us stave off global warming? Well, that's the whole idea behind geoengineering, also known as planet hacking. For two weeks, I'm going to be counting down 10 of the sensible- and crazy-sounding schemes that might just save the day for us.

Yesterday, I looked at the decidedly mundane method of just planting a ton of trees to eat up more CO2. Of course, whatever nature can do, science can do even better -- right? Klaus Lackner, director of Columbia University's Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy, seems to think so.

His solution calls for forests of giant, artificial trees that just suck the CO2 right out of the atmosphere and either store it in underground tanks or use it to make synthetic fuel. As you can see from the photo, one of these trees definitely looks more like a fly swatter than a mighty oak.

According to Becky Striepe over at EcoLocalizer, Lackner thinks that 250,000 of these mechanical wonder plants should do the trick. Each tree would absorb CO2 equal to the output of 4,000 people or 15,000 cars.

Of course, we'd have to build them, distribute them and in the end it would only put a Band-Aid on the problem while we look at address the underlying issues. According to New Scientist, however, we're decades and not years away from seeing this as a ready solution.

Hey, as long as they look less obnoxious than those camouflaged cell phone towers, right? Check back tomorrow and we'll see what else scientists and environmentalists have in their bag of tricks. Also check out yesterday's post if you missed it, No. 10: Foresting.

Take a walk through the plastic forest at HowStuffWorks.com: How Carbon Capture Works How Global Warming Works How Weather Works