The Only Solution May Be Technology


Brad Plumer writes:

Biochar has always sounded like a whimsical climate solution that's too good to be true. Simply stir a little charcoal into the soil andvoilait's supposedly possible to suck thousands of tons of carbon-dioxide out of the air. Sounds suspicious, no? And yet it just might work. A new study in Nature Communications finds that the world could, in theory, sustainably offset a whopping 12 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions by producing biochar.

That study is here. I so want to believe it. I don't favor a small but slowly rising carbon tax because I want to hurt economic growth, but because I don't want an over-arching government bureaucracy setting carbon limits and offsets. But most of all because I really want to encourage the entrepreneurial dynamism of new energy investment. The real tragedy, of course, would be the emergence of climate-saving alternative energies like biochar just a little too late to prevent the kind of feed-back loops that could accelerate a process already well underway. Speaking of which, check out this new ice-island:

The image on the left was taken on 28 July and the image on the right was taken on 5 August. The floating chunk of ice measures approximately 250 square kilometres (100 square miles). According to Nasa's Earth Observatory, the glacier lost about one-quarter of its 70km-long floating ice shelf.

Here's a way to grasp the size of this new island, the biggest in half a century: