(Image Credit: Anne Nygård/Unsplash)
It’s like someone applied their childhood “hide the mess in the closet” bedroom cleaning tactic to the atmosphere.
The world’s biggest companies, including Facebook and Google, plan to invest nearly $1 billion toward extracting carbon dioxide emissions from the air, a new climate change strategy. According to the most recent international climate assessment, using this method may be inevitable if countries wish to achieve their pledges that prevent average global temperatures from increasing,
However, technologies with carbon removal capabilities are still in the early stages. Climate activists say that this technique is risky and could enable the fossil fuel industry to continue operations. Scientists even say that the world needs to start considering every possible strategy, especially because global emissions levels keep rising. According to scientific data, greenhouse gas emissions must drastically increase to prevent climate change from worsening. In that case, emissions need to see a 43% decrease by 2030 and a drop to net-zero by 2050 to keep the warming from surpassing the 2.7° F threshold.
Technologies, such as renewable energy, designed to help reduce emissions, are already commonplace and cost-effective. Even then, some emissions are difficult to undertake. For example, farming generates emissions from soil interference and applying fertilizers to feed soil microbes that emit heat-trapping gases. Meanwhile, steelmaking relies on fuels that generate very high temperatures. These industries could still generate emissions by 2050. At that time, the greenhouse gas levels must stop increasing.
Renewable technologies are already deployed in many areas around the world, helping to rely less on fossil fuels. (Image Credit: Jason Blackeye/Unsplash)
So we need to focus on extracting carbon dioxide emissions that are already in the atmosphere. These would then be moved into permanent storage in underground geological formations. That way, they can’t drift into the atmosphere, causing further warming. However, removing large amounts of carbon dioxide is still difficult because it makes up less than 1% of the atmosphere.
The amount of carbon dioxide that must be removed depends on how quickly humans can stop relying on fossil fuels. It’s important to note that the sooner greenhouse gases decrease, the quicker we can put a stop to rising temperatures. According to the National Academics of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, carbon removal could require scaling up to 10 billion tons of carbon each year by 2050. Currently, direct air capture plants are removing 0.01 million tons.
The IPCC’s latest report showed how much carbon dioxide might need to be removed. These estimates were taken off due to inconsistencies in land-based emissions calculations among various countries. The report stated that up to one trillion tons of carbon dioxide might need to be extracted via bioenergy and direct air capture by the century’s end.
The Biden administration set a target price of under $100 per metric ton for carbon removal within a decade. Carbon capture technologies could require large industrial buildings to transport carbon underground, which could ultimately affect the land. Climate activists also fear that unproven technologies could discourage governments from limiting fossil fuels. Oil and gas companies argue fossil fuels can operate alongside carbon removal technologies, which could take decades to achieve.
But, as soon as that closet door opened, a comedic flow of the mess followed.
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