Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Good CO2

Let's face it, CO2 (carbon dioxide) has gotten a bum rap - it is the poster child for global warming villains. It alone has been blamed for the greenhouse gas effect – the dirty little pollutant!

After seeing a Gore 2008 bumper sticker, an acquaintance in the dry ice blasting business recently said "Hah – He'd put us all out of a job if he had his way."

"Why?" I asked. "Huh, whaddya mean? We use dry ice - that's CO2 and he wants to get rid of it, and us."

Ah, I see now... the common misperception: all CO2 is bad. Right?

An inconvenient truth

Well, considering that all plant life is dependent upon CO2 for its existence, I'd have to say Wrong.

What may truly be an inconvenient truth to many is that CO2 is not bad just because it's CO2. In fact, the only way to rid the Earth of CO2 would be to stop all animal (and human) life forms from exhaling. And while that would kill all of us, it would also then kill all the remaining plant life once we were gone. Bummer. Seems like the planet would be a bit boring after that.

CO2 isn't all bad – in fact it's a necessary part of our planet's ecosystem.

So what's the global warming bit about? Easy – that's about the excess of CO2 that's produced by the burning of carbon-based fossil fuels. This is new, excess, additional, CO2. And specifically, CO2 that's produced as a by-product of other processes.

Recycling is eco-friendly

So what about dry ice, and industries that use dry ice – such as food storage, dry ice blasting, etc.? Don’t they produce excess (i.e. bad) CO2?

In a word: No… nope, nada, nein, non, нет, não, 无, いいえ ... Okay that's a few words, but you get the idea.

The CO2 used in these processes (which comes from liquid CO2) is not CO2 that is produced as a by-product of another process. It's not excess CO2. It's CO2 that has been reclaimed (recycled) from the CO2 that already exists in the environment around us.

It's this simple fact that makes dry ice usage, and dry ice blasting in particular, environmentally friendly and not environmentally damaging. It's the environmentally conscious and responsible way to use existing CO2 to our advantage.

And, let's not forget that dry ice blasting usually replaces other cleaning processes such as soda blasting and solvent cleaning – which have significant environment-damaging effects. Another feather in the dry ice blasting hat.

So, to respond to the comment about the bumper sticker – "No, we wouldn’t be out of a job. In fact, we'd have a lot more jobs because dry ice blasting is extremely good for the environment. It replaces toxic solvents and it doesn't add CO2 to the atmosphere, it simply puts back the CO2 it borrowed."

Who knows – if we get the word out, maybe poor old CO2 will get a little of its respect back. It deserves it. After all – we truly couldn't live without it.