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Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Can Carbon-Dioxide Removal Save the World? Elizabeth Kolbert

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  • CO2 could soon reach levels that, it’s widely agreed, will lead to catastrophe.

  • Carbon dioxide removal technology represents either the ultimate insurance policy or the ultimate moral hazard.
  • It’s been calculated that to equilibrate to current CO2 levels the planet still needs to warm by half a degree. And every ten days another billion tons of carbon dioxide are released.

….This past April, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached a record four hundred and ten parts per million. The amount of CO2 in the air now is probably greater than it’s been at any time since the mid-Pliocene, three and a half million years ago, when there was a lot less ice at the poles and sea levels were sixty feet higher. This year’s record will be surpassed next year, and next year’s the year after that. Even if every country fulfills the pledges made in the Paris climate accord—and the United States has said that it doesn’t intend to—carbon dioxide could soon reach levels that, it’s widely agreed, will lead to catastrophe, assuming it hasn’t already done so.

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