Humanity must also remove CO2 from the air

Two centuries of burning fossil fuels have put more carbon dioxide, a powerful greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere than nature can remove.

As that CO2 builds up, it traps excess heat near Earth’s surface, causing global warming. There is so much CO2 in the atmosphere now that most scenarios show ending emissions alone won’t be enough to stabilize the climate — humanity will also have to remove CO2 from the air

Technology to remove carbon mechanically is in development and operating at a very small scale, in part because current methods are prohibitively expensive and energy-intensive. But new techniques are being tested this year that could help lower the energy demand and cost…

Since CO2 mixes quickly in the air, it doesn’t matter where in the world the CO2 is removed — the removal has the same impact. So we can place direct air capture technology right where we plan to use or store the CO2.

The method of storage is also important. Storing CO2 for just 60 years or 100 years isn’t good enough. If 100 years from now all that carbon is back in the environment, all we did was take care of ourselves, and our grandkids have to figure it out again. In the meantime, the world’s energy consumption is growing at about two percent per year…

The article proceeds in detail to examine both capture and storage of CO2. Process development is already underway. Production – requiring subsidy to start; but, with capacity to develop into cost efficient and profitable methods – is possible with existing research. More research, concurrent with production, is needed.

6 thoughts on “Humanity must also remove CO2 from the air

  1. Unforeseen consequences says:

    “Emissions from aluminum production are bad news for solar energy
    In some cases, producing one tonne of aluminum can result in 14 to 16 tonnes of CO2.”
    https://arstechnica.com/science/2022/01/emissions-from-aluminum-production-are-bad-news-for-solar-energy/ [a tonne is also referred to as a metric ton. It is equivalent to approximately 2,204.6 pounds; 1.102 short tons (US), and 0.984 long tons (UK)].
    “Once solar panels are operative, they produce electricity without carbon emissions. But making and installing them does involve some emissions. Most of the worries there have focused on elements that go into the panels themselves, like gallium, cadmium, germanium, indium, selenium, and tellurium. But, according to new research, the massive amount of aluminum needed to house the solar rigs of the future could create its own problems.”
    See also https://www.nature.com/articles/s41893-021-00838-9

      • Mark says:

        The problem with trees is that there is no profit to be made if you just stick them in the ground and leave them. Unless you count a clean and functional environment as profit.

        Still trees are the ideal win-win solution.

        • eideard says:

          The article is clear the solutions aren’t mutually exclusive. To this old brain, anyway. The amount of carbon our industrial emperors have stuffed into the atmosphere requires short-term assistance if we’re getting back to a normal balance within a time period still measured in generations. Tree planting is necessary, of course. And, then, the artificial aids will no longer be needed. Regardless of color. :-]

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