WASHINGTON – With the time to avoid dangerous global warming, the country's leading scientific institution on Wednesday called on the federal government to launch a research program that develops technologies that can remove large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in order to reduce global warming Climate to Slow Change
The 369-page report, authored by a panel of National Academies of Science, Technology and Medicine, underscores an important change. For decades, experts said that nations could prevent large increases in temperature by reducing dependence on fossil fuels and moving to cleaner sources such as solar, wind, and nuclear.
But at this time, nations have their carbon-carbon emissions, which even a breakneck shift to clean energy would most likely not be enough. According to a groundbreaking scientific report released by the United Nations earlier this month, it may be necessary to remove a large portion of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere to avoid significant further warming, although researchers have not yet discovered it economically or to a sufficient extent.
And we have to do it fast. In order to achieve the climate goals set by the Paris Agreement, humanity would have to remove around 1
"Midcentury is not very far away," Pacala said. "Developing the technologies and increasing it up to 10 billion tons a year is a dreadful undertaking that would require a lot of activity, so the time should be now."
Panel members acknowledged that the Trump The government may not find the argument of climate change so compelling as the president has disavowed the Paris Agreement. But, Pacala said, it is very likely that other countries will be interested in carbon removal. The United States could play a leading role in developing technologies that could one day be worth billions of dollars.
Right now there are many ideas for carbon removal. Countries could plant more trees that extract carbon dioxide from the air and anchor it in their wood. Farmers could use techniques such as no-till, which would keep more carbon in the soil. Some companies are building "direct air capture" systems that use chemical substances to remove trace amounts of carbon dioxide from the air, allowing them to sell the gas to industrial customers or buried it underground.
But the National Academies Panel warned Many of these methods have not yet been proven or are subject to serious restrictions. There is only so much land to plant new trees. Scientists are still not sure how much carbon can be realistically stored in agricultural soils. And direct air extraction systems are still too expensive for mass use.
Theoretically, it could be possible to collect wood or other plant material that has absorbed carbon dioxide from the air, burn it in biomass power plants for energy, and then capture the carbon from the combustion and burrow it deep underground, thereby reducing the carbon footprint Essentially a power plant that has negative emissions. Although such facilities are not commercially operated today, the technology exists to build them.
However, one potential problem with this approach, according to the National Academies Panel, is that the land on which biomass is grown for these power plants could conflict with the need for arable land for food. The Panel estimated that this method could one day be able to remove 3 to 5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide per year from the air, but possibly much less, depending on land restrictions.
That's a long way from the 10 billion to 20 billion tons of carbon dioxide we need to pull out of the air by the end of the century to limit global warming to about 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) Report of the United Nations. This figure assumes that nations will be able to almost completely decarbonise their energy and industrial systems by 2050.
If nations do not keep global warming below 1.5 degrees, the UN report warned that another ten million people could be life-threatening, heat waves and water scarcity, and the world's coral reefs could almost completely disappear.
The National Academic Panel recommended a dual strategy. The United States could set up programs to start testing and using CO2-removing methods, such as negative-emission biomass plants, new forest management techniques, or carbon management programs.
At the same time, federal agencies would need to do research into early carbon removal techniques to see whether they would one day be ready for widespread use.
For example, scientists have long known that certain minerals, such as peridotite, can bind with carbon dioxide in the air and essentially converts the gas into solid rock. Researchers in Oman have explored the potential of using the country's vast mineral deposits for carbon removal, but there are still big questions about whether this is feasible on a large scale.
In its report, the panel provided a detailed account of the research agenda that could ultimately cost billions of dollars. But given the fact that carbon removal could "solve a significant part of the climate problem," the report says, these costs are modest. For comparison, between 1978 and 2013, the federal government spent $ 22 billion on renewable energy research.
External experts welcomed the report as a sign that carbon removal is finally playing a key role in discussions on combating climate change.
We start from the early phase of "carbon removal" to find out what specific steps can be taken to scale these solutions, "said Noah Deich, executive director of the Carbon180 group, which recently started bringing researchers and companies together
However, the National Academic Panel warned of a potential disadvantage of carbon removal research, which could lead to a "moral hazard" that would make governments less reluctant to reduce their own emissions if they did believe that giant CO2 scrubbers will soon save the day.
To that end, the panel, when developed, emphasized that could only be part of a larger global warming strategy. "Reducing emissions," the report says, "is crucial for solving the climate problem. "