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Adam Smith and Economies of Scale for Algae Production Posted by RobertTulip on Tue September 07 2010 12:38:57 AM 39

Action at the individual level will not stop global warming. Only large scale intervention with economies of scale will have real impact. A good explanation of why this is so was foreshadowed by Adam Smith in The_Wealth_of_Nations with his example of a pin factory. Individuals can make pins in home based workshops, but coordinating their efforts in factories will result in far more efficient and effective production. Taking this insight into the modern context of new technology to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, we can see that home based algae farms could well be a useful way to treat domestic waste water and make useful products, but if we want to use algae to regulate the climate then we have to operate on a global scale. This will mean building algae farms at sea on a scale of many square kilometers. My rough calculation is that farms covering an area of 500,000 square kilometers, 0.1% of the world ocean, would be big enough to make a dent in emission trajectories while also producing a workable quick replacement for fossil fuel.