my view on
Store CO2 in living trees and plants, instead of in the soil
Tempers in Barendrecht were heated in 2010, because the soil of this municipality had been designated by the national government as a storage place for CO2, also known as carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide. However, CO2 is a harmless gas, which is produced in abundance by humans and animals. So storage of CO2 does not seem to be a risk. But a CO2 incident nevertheless occurred in Germany in 2008. Above-ground storage is still safer.
Why all the fuss about CO2 storage
The reason the residents of Barendrecht were concerned may have been because it is seen as the cause of the greenhouse effect. In addition, it appears as a chemical symbol CO2 very much like the symbol CO which stands for carbon monoxide (coal vapor) and which is indeed a life-threatening gas. But carbon dioxide is not a poisonous gas. Yet in 2008 an unpleasant incident with CO2 escaping from a factory occurred in Mönchengladbach, in which people with respiratory complaints were hospitalized. And in that respect the concern of the Barendrechters was understandable.
What is CO2 actually
CO2, also known as carbon dioxide or carbonic acid, is a gas that is created when carbon is burned. The element carbon is a (fuel) substance that occurs on a large scale in nature. Both humans and animals, as well as plants and trees, consist to a large extent of carbon. At the moment that carbon forms a combination with oxygen (= combustion), the gas carbon dioxide will be formed with correct complete combustion. Carbon dioxide (CO2) means: a substance whose molecule consists of 2 atoms of the element oxygen, and 1 atom of the element carbon.
Humans and animals find their energy from food, which also largely consists of carbon, and that energy is released during the combustion of that carbon. Humans and animals are therefore major producers of CO2 that leaves the body through the lungs when exhaled. And that is great because the exhaled CO2 gas in turn forms the fertilization of the growing plants and trees. Under the influence of sunlight, these break down the CO2 into carbon (for their growth) and release the released oxygen to the air in the atmosphere. Thanks to this constantly repeating (assimilation) process, flora and fauna maintain each other. Since no plant can grow without the supply of CO2, greenhouse greenhouses generally supply artificial CO2 gas.
CO2 is absolutely non-toxic
The CO2 gas cannot burn because it is already a product of combustion. It cannot explode as a result. You cannot see or smell CO2. So you are not bothered at all. And it is also absolutely non-toxic. On the contrary, we sometimes like it too, because the fresh shot in soft drinks such as cola and other carbonated soft drinks is nothing more than the same CO2, this time added by the soft drink manufacturer.
It therefore seems completely unfounded to be concerned about your health if you consume a little CO2. Of course it is unhealthy if, instead of healthy air with sufficient oxygen, you breathe air with too high a CO2 content, because then that air automatically contains less oxygen. This happens when you sleep in bed with the covers pulled over your head. But that does not make CO2 toxic.
If CO2 does escape from a soil storage place
CO2 is heavier than air and will consequently sink down if it is unexpectedly released in large quantities at the same time. If the carbon dioxide gets stuck somewhere near your feet, you will not be bothered by it and at most insects and mice will not get enough oxygen-rich air. But if the buildings are located at a low location, things are different. Imagine, for example, that the gas flows into cellars where people happen to be, then the CO2 indeed displaces the normal air and a person will suffocate due to a lack of oxygen.
The most natural form of CO2 storage
For the Flora present on Earth, CO2 is an essential gas that is needed for the growth of forests, among other things. As long as a plant or tree absorbs CO2 via the leaf green, that plant or tree (under the influence of sunlight) splits this CO2 molecule into the atoms C (carbon) and O (oxygen). Only when the tree, or the wood obtained from it ever degenerates, (starts to rot or is set on fire), CO2 will be created again.
The solution to the CO2 problem therefore seems simple: create more forests so that the CO2 splits into carbon and oxygen. And then leave those forests and the wood extracted with them intact for as long as possible. So instead of building stone houses, perhaps place more wooden houses in order to form a large buffer of the element C, which in this way cannot turn into CO2 for the first 100 years.
In other words: Instead of underground storage, aboveground storage in the form of living wood.