The year saw the Arctic sea ice extent fall to a new and shocking low, while the U.S. experienced it warmest month ever on record (July), beating even Dust Bowl temperatures. Meanwhile, a flood of new research has convincingly connected a rise in extreme weather events, especially droughts and heatwaves, to global climate change, and a recent report by the DARA Group and Climate Vulnerability Forum finds that climate change contributes to around 400,000 deaths a year and costs the world 1.6 percent of its GDP, or $1.2 trillion. All this and global temperatures have only risen about 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.44 degrees Fahrenheit) since the early Twentieth Century. Scientists predict that temperatures could rise between 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) to a staggering 6.4 degrees Celsius (11.5 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century.
A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) argues for a bold, and perhaps less dangerous approach than geo-engineering ideas: physically pull carbon out of the atmosphere.
“If climate change is quicker than expected, then the world has likely overshot the acceptable limit of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere or will go over before emissions can get stopped,” Klaus Lackner, lead author of the paper with the Earth Institute at Colombia University and board member of atmospheric carbon-capturing company, Kilimanjaro Energy, told mongabay.com. “Unlike flue gas scrubbing [which removes emissions from power plants], air capture can remove more carbon dioxide than is emitted. Therefore, it can gradually reduce CO2 levels in the atmosphere; not overnight, but a lot faster than nature will do it by itself.”