The Suddenly Urgent Quest to Remove Carbon Dioxide From the Air
rom the rooftop of Klaus Lackner’s seven-story building on the Arizona State University campus, photovoltaic panels seem to glisten in every direction. The school claims to have more solar installed than any other university in America – part of a plan to offset the carbon emissions of this institution of more than 80,000 students.
But the odd little box Lackner has come up here to check could take things a big step further. If it works on a bigger scale, this box could make the university a negative emitter — actually reducing the amount of carbon in the air by pulling some of it out again.
Lackner’s box is part of a new wave of technology aimed at turbocharging efforts to head off climate change. Such devices had been a pipe-dream until recently, but more and more, they are being seen as indispensable. That’s because the goals set at last year’s Paris accord on climate change, of keeping the planet’s warming “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, may not be achievable unless such technology comes to fruition.