Let’s take a leap forward in time. Let’s imagine we live in a not too distant future where research centres all over the world have perfected effective techniques for capturing the excess carbon dioxide scattered through the atmosphere and already know how to intercept particles released by chimneys and exhaust pipes. A future where governments have addressed the issue and endorsed efforts to resolve it, and industries have developed and put into operation plants implementing these inventions.
In this future, we’ve eliminated all excess CO2 so that sunlight can filter through without the heat getting trapped, and the greenhouse effect, without which Earth’s temperate climate and therefore life couldn’t exist, is back to its normal levels. And the temperature is no longer rising: climate change has been stopped. We are safe. Excellent. But now where do we put all the carbon we’ve captured? By releasing all at once, over about a century and a half, the enormous quantity of carbon that nature had already stored away in oil and gas fields over hundreds of millions of years, we caused our atmosphere to overheat. And now, attempts to remedy that feel a bit like trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube – worse, actually, as we’re talking about a tube as big as a planet. Removing a huge quantity of carbon from its normal cycle is no easy feat. Indeed, many research centres around the world are investigating and implementing different methods – some easy, some incredibly complex – to achieve just this.