The direct approach to reducing CO2

Opponents of reforms such as Kyoto and “cap-and-trade” often argue that these proposals are more about anti-capitalist politics than concern for the environment. As evidence, they point out that these programs would have little impact on the environment while severely damaging our economy. A recent New York Times article adds credence to this view.

Governments are doing practically nothing to study the removal of carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere, but this technology could be a much cheaper form of climate protection than photovoltaic cells and other approaches getting lavish support, according to an article published today in Science.

David W. Keith, a physicist at the University of Calgary, reviews some of the technologies for air capture of carbon and notes that there is not a single government program devoted specifically to that purpose. Dr. Keith estimates that less than $3 million per year in public money is currently being spent on related research, even though it could potentially be a bargain.

If the real goal is to reduce CO2 levels, why are we ignoring the most direct method of doing it? Shouldn’t we be looking at air capture technologies instead of, or at least in addition to, less effective, less economical approaches?

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