People, Environment

Technology Playing Catchup in Fight Against Climate Change

Technology Playing Catchup in Fight Against Climate ChangeTechnology Playing Catchup in Fight Against Climate Change

If anthropogenic global warming is to be limited to less than 2 degrees Celsius, technology will need to be developed to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, in addition to the complete ceasing of greenhouse gas emissions by 2085, according to a new study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

To put that another way, even if the industrial, agricultural, shipping and transportation, and military systems and industries are fundamentally changed, even if all of the entrenched interests in those areas are somehow placated or overrun and even if the political will for all of these actions is there, there will still need to be new technologies developed that can economically remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere on a mass-scale (15 billion tons per year by the end of century).

Two degrees Celsius is supposedly the “safe” limit for the continuity of the present industrial civilization, Clean Technica reported.

The new study notes that slashing emissions at the pace outlined in last year’s Paris climate change agreement “may not be enough to keep global warming from blasting past 2 degrees Celsius,” according to lead author, Benjamin Sanderson.

Sabine Fuss, a negative emissions researcher at the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change in Berlin, noted that the research confirms that “individual countries’ emissions cuts pledges under the Paris agreement (signed last December) are insufficient to meet the pact’s global warming goals”.

Notably, negative emissions technology are not currently in use in any real way, as there are no proven, economically viable options at this point and most of the proposed options carry significant environmental risks themselves.

Sanderson stated that current areas of inquiry include a method known as bioenergy, carbon capture and storage, or BECCS.

It works like this: Trees and other plants, which absorb atmospheric carbon, are grown specifically for carbon removal, then they are burned to generate electricity and the emissions are captured and sequestered underground.

Other strategies involve planting large forests across the globe, directly capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and altering soil management to increase the amount of carbon it can store.

Sanderson stated that the removal of billions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere would come at “a phenomenal cost”.