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Video: Radical Solutions to Past Carbon Emissions

Much of the talk about addressing climate change is forward-looking. From major international accords such as the Paris Agreement to a company’s announcement of impressive emissions goals, the focus is often on what we’ll do differently in the future. And that’s good.

But what about all the carbon dioxide that’s already in the atmosphere? Since the industrial revolution, we’ve added more than half a billion tons of carbon to the air. Even if we were to drop our carbon emissions to zero today, we would still be facing an increase in average surface temperature of one to two degrees. With that could come rising seas, more intense droughts, and more severe weather.

That’s why researchers are working on radical technologies to scrub the air clean of CO2 and, if necessary, shield the planet from solar radiation so we can keep things cool down below. These are expensive, difficult, and controversial remedies. Given the mess we've already made up there, they may be necessary.

John Griffiths

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