Welcome to Earth 2.0
Humans have left an indelible mark on Earth, most notably in the massive amounts of carbon now floating around in our atmosphere that is causing the planet to warm. When we industrialized our civilization, we harnessed the power of fossil fuels and have become slaves to it as a result.
We are now at a critical point where we will need to deal with the carbon already in our atmosphere from burning fossil fuels (carbon lasts for hundreds of years in the atmosphere, making it ever more difficult to achieve targeted reductions) in order to meet the ceiling on carbon, proposed last week by the International Panel on Climate Change, or move on to a new Earth, argues Lawrence Krauss, director of the Origins Project at ASU, in the New Yorker.
Because the world’s governments cannot seem to adequately face the imperative to cut industrial greenhouse gas production, we can “give up and resign ourselves to living on Earth 2.0, with the possibility of vast and disastrous social and political upheavals due to changing temperatures, rising sea levels and the like; or try and do something about the carbon that is already in the atmosphere,” Krauss states.
If we choose the latter, then our best shot might be to develop a strategy to remove carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere. Remarkably, this approach has received almost no support in terms of R&D dollars to date, an egregious action given the tens of billions we spend on fine-tuning the source for all of this carbon-fossil fuel production, he states.
“Carbon capture may not be practical in the end,” Krauss states. “But exploring possibilities like it with the same kind of energy that we are devoting to extracting fossil fuels should be an ethical global imperative, given everything we know about humanity’s impact on our climate.”