It’s no secret that the effects of climate change are already starting to reach devastating levels, but you may be surprised to hear of the lengths some scientists say we may have to take in order to slow and ultimately halt the effects.
The latest CO2-reduction effort to be put on the climate change table is to literally pull carbon dioxide from the air, and store it away in order to stabilize the climate and keep it from tipping into runaway global warming.
According to the paper written by Columbia University researchers, at first it will be extremely expensive to suck carbon dioxide directly out of the air. This is consistent with a recent MIT study on the subject. However, the researchers suggest that as technology develops and starts to be distributed widely, it may become cheaper and more effective.
These carbon capture techniques would address CO2 sources that current carbon capture and storage methods are not, and according to the paper, there is potential to significantly lower the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere over time. They say it is crucial to develop the technology to do so, despite the expense, because there are several factors indicating the world may well have already passed the point where simply lowering emissions by other means will not make enough of a difference in time.
There are carbon capture methods in development that attempt to extract CO2 from coal-fired power plants and steel manufacturing plants, feed it to algae farms for biofuel production, or store it underground. A way has not been found to to adequately tackle the problem of emissions from transport.
Excess CO2 can linger in the air for hundreds of years, so reducing and even stabilizing it will take long-term, serious effort around the world, including replacing fossil fuels with cleaner alternatives. The authors have also pointed out that developing technology to suck carbon from the air does not mean we can start having a lax attitude toward the burning of fossil fuels in relation to global warming. “We have to push very hard right now,” said lead author Klaus Lackner. “And we have to have every means at our disposal to solve this problem.”