Most people get that we have to stop emitting so much CO2. But even if we stopped today, what happens with the CO2 already in the atmosphere? Don’t we have to both stop producing emissions AND take CO2 out of the atmosphere at the same time?
— These Onerous Obstacles Make Undoing Carbonization Hard
Dear TOO MUCH,
I can almost hear the weariness in your voice, and it resonates. We talk so much about the supreme challenge of reducing emissions — something that already requires transitioning our entire economy away from the burning of fossil fuels, adapting to existing climate threats, and doing all that in a way that at the very least doesn’t add to the burdens of already marginalized communities. It’s hard to imagine that there’s more still to do. Can it really be that, on top of all those tasks, we have to pull carbon out of the atmosphere too?
It’s not like we can just flip a switch in order to return to preindustrial CO2 levels. Zachary Byrum, a research analyst in carbon removal at the World Resources Institute, likes to compare our atmosphere to a ... Read more