Accelerate the breakdown of silicate minerals to improve crop productivity, reverse ocean acidification, and permanently absorb carbon from the atmosphere.
Volcanic minerals called silicates are highly abundant on Earth. As they erode slowly over time, a process called weathering, they pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through a series of chemical reactions. This process can be enhanced by action, such as crushing the rocks mechanically, which exposes more surface area to the atmosphere. Crushed silicates have many benefits. Spread on agricultural fields, they can boost soil health and plant fertility, improving crop yields. Applied to oceans, they can reverse acidification and reduce algal blooms. Enhanced weathering has the potential for large-scale carbon dioxide removal. It faces challenges, however, including the high energy demands of pulverizing rocks and understanding the full impacts of adding silicates to soils and oceans under real-world conditions. With careful attention to mining practices, energy sources, and environmental impacts, enhanced weathering could be a key regenerative solution.