A shiny, new National Academy of Sciences report on carbon pollution mitigation measures says there’s “no substitute” for reducing emissions in the first place. No crash diet or magic pill of sequestration, air capture, land management, or sun-reflection technology has yet evolved enough to remove sufficient carbon from our common, global atmosphere. Much like a nutritionist might tell a yo-yo dieter, what will work is reducing emissions. Put another way, count calories and get exercise.
The two-part NAS report specifically looked at carbon removal methods, geo-engineering, and “albedo modification,” technologies that could reduce the amount of the sun’s energy absorbed by our planet’s atmosphere. They found that these often experimental options range from more costly than simply reducing emissions in the first place, or pose further risk to the environment. “That scientists are even considering technological interventions should be a wake-up call that we need to do more now to reduce emissions,” said former U.S. Geological Survey Director Marcia McNutt of the study.
It’s not fun. It’s not sexy. It won’t slim us down to nothing in time for our hot date next week. But, for now, reducing greenhouse gas emissions – preferably through market based mechanisms – is still the most effective way to address climate change.