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Why current negative-emissions strategies remain ‘magical thinking’

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Decarbonization of the world’s economy would bring colossal disruption of the status quo. It’s a desire to avoid that change — political, financial and otherwise — that drives many of the climate sceptics. Still, as this journal has noted numerous times, it’s clear that many policymakers who argue that emissions must be curbed, and fast, don’t seem to appreciate the scale of what’s required. [...]
The 2015 Paris agreement gave politicians an answer: negative emissions. Technology to reduce the amount of carbon already in the atmosphere will buy society valuable time. [...] What would negative emissions look like? A Perspective this week in Nature Plants offers another glimpse, and it’s not pretty (D. J. Beerling et al. Nature Plants; 2018). The review focuses on the idea of enhanced weathering, which aims to exploit how many rocks react with carbon dioxide and water to form alkaline solutions that, over time, find their way into the sea. [...] But the effort required is astounding. The article estimates that grinding up 10–50 tonnes of basalt rock and applying it to each of some 70 million hectares — an area about the size of Texas — of US agricultural land every year would soak up 13% of the annual global emissions from agriculture. [...] It’s not hard to see why many climate scientists have dismissed the near-impossible scale of required negative emissions as “magical thinking”. [...]

Nature, Vol. 554, No. 7693. (22 February 2018), pp. 404-404, 
Key: INRMM:14541307



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