The Tiny Swiss Company That Thinks It Can Help Stop Climate Change
Even the most enthusiastic believers in direct air capture stop short of describing it as a miracle technology. It’s more frequently described as an old idea — “scrubbers” that remove CO₂ have been used in submarines since at least the 1950s — that is being radically upgraded for a variety of new applications. It’s arguably the case, in fact, that when it comes to reducing our carbon emissions, direct air capture will be seen as an option that’s too expensive and too modest in impact. “The only way that direct air capture becomes meaningful is if we do all the other things we need to do promptly,” Hal Harvey, a California energy analyst who studies climate-friendly technologies and policies, told me recently. The future of carbon mitigation, however, is on a countdown timer, as atmospheric CO₂ concentrations have continued to rise. At the moment, global CO₂ emissions are about 37 billion metric tons per year, and we’re on track to raise temperatures by 3 degrees Celsius by 2100.
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