Thursday, July 18, 2024

Scared by global warming? in Iceland, one solution is petrifying

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On a barren hillside in southwest Iceland, workers are installing huge fans to suck carbon dioxide from the air and turn it to stone deep below ground, in a radical – but expensive – way to fight global warming.

Engineering fixes for climate change are gaining attention and investments in 2021 as companies such as Microsoft and leaders from China, the United States and the European Union work on long-term plans to achieve “net zero” emissions goals.

Elon Musk, chief of Tesla Inc and a billionaire entrepreneur, said in January he would give a $100 million prize for the best “technology for capturing carbon”.

Swiss firm Climeworks, which is building the Icelandic site with Carbfix, a unit of Reykjavik Energy, says every technological fix is needed to limit what U.S. President Joe Biden calls a “climate crisis”.

But critics say “direct air capture” (DAC) of emissions already in the atmosphere is too costly, particularly compared to simply reducing emissions, or protecting existing forests and planting new trees.

As they grow, trees soak up carbon dioxide from the air, lowering the amount of carbon in the atmosphere – and old trees are much more effective at it than new plantations, scientists say.

“We should plant as many forests as we can and protect as many as we can. But we are beyond the ‘either/or’,” in choosing how to slow warming, said Jan Wurzbacher, director and co-founder of Climeworks. Read more…

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