I hate wind. It’s a natural and deep hate that comes with growing up in the desert. So many swim practices on sunny days rendered freezing, so many treasured but aerodynamic objects disappeared to the next county, so many teenage hairstyles ruined. Wind is the Voldemort of Joshua Tree, the weather-that-shall-not-be-named: “Hey, have you noticed we haven’t had much doubleyou eye en-dee lately? Gotta love it!”

So since I’ve moved back to the desert, I’ve been thinking about what I could do to change my relationship with wind. I’d so much rather be happy than depressed when it blows, but it’s been a tough one. There’s just not much to like. I could get into kites, I guess, but I don’t feel excited about that idea. Desert kiteboarding (boarding starts at 1:00) looks like it could be fun but I’d need to get into much better shape. I’ll have to wait for my sprained wrist to heal, at least.

The obvious answer is energy-generating windmills, and I got excited about them for a while, but really we don’t need more electricity here. Thanks to a great investment by my dad, we have solar panels that generate about as much electricity as we can use.

The last idea I got excited about was a kind of wind-based CO2 scrubber. I imagined a funnel that directed air over a scrubber of some kind that was powered by an attached windmill. The scrubber would poop carbon dust (or bricks, even better) that I could bury somewhere on my property. Or whatever the hippest thing to do with carbon dust is–I never got that far. Genius, I thought. I could be happy about wind that was doing some small part to undo my pollution.

I never got that far because there are only prototypes of machines kind of like it at this point, and it is apparently not clear how well they will work. As I understand it, scrubbing CO2 out of air is difficult to do because there is so little CO2 in air. It’s much easier to do where the pollution is thick, like industrial smoke stacks. The takeaway from my several hours of looking into it was that it was probably more ethical to use whatever extra money I could scrape together to buy and install more solar panels to connect to the grid.  Not as satisfying as sucking my own pollution out of the air, but donating clean energy to power other people’s lives could mean less pollution produced in the first place.

Thinking about carbon sequestration shifted my thinking a bit in an unexpected direction. The millions and millions of stick frame houses in the US are made of sequestered carbon, for example. And landfills: All the junk mail and cardboard boxes in landfills are made of sequestered carbon.  All the plastic crap in landfills is made of sequestered carbon. I still think that forest conservation, sustainable forest management, and reforestation are some of the very most important things we can do, but I no longer cringe as much when I see forest products heading for landfills, stick frame houses in deserts, or wood siding when it should have been plaster. Even all that tragic plastic crap–at least we’re not burning it.

 

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