Just about everyone in a position of power or responsibility agrees that we have come to a point in history where achieving a carbon-free future is a must.
The earth is currently experiencing a mass extinction of species, floods, superstorms, ocean acidification, droughts, massive wildfires devastating millions of acres and an array of other frightening problems that threaten our very existence on the only home we have – Planet Earth.
But how can it be done? While experts agree carbon neutrality can be achieved, the effort required is massive and extraordinary. It will mean a combination of drastic changes in the policies of world governments and private corporations alike.
The other side of the formula involves science and engineering. It is the latter disciplines that must produce the tools to keep the wheels of the global economy turning by inventing ways to generate energy that does not result in loading the atmosphere with carbon.
An example of the latter is air travel. Experts agree that the future of aviation will be among the toughest to transform into a carbon-free sector. While electric cars are already starting to populate our highways, safe and reliable aircraft that run on batteries are still a long way off.
Experts say that, because airplanes will rely on fossil fuels for decades to come, a way must be found to scrub the CO2 they dump into the skies in an indirect way. Science already has the answer. It’s now possible to build towers that scrub CO2 out of the atmosphere so that it can be transformed into a solid state. The only thing left to do is bury the carbon back in the ground where it came from in the first place in the form of gas or oil.
Eliminating carbon from the transportation sector as a whole is a major piece of the carbon-free future challenge.
Another big chunk is housing. Here again, science already has everything needed to build sustainable, completely carbon-free homes that are powered by solar, wind, geothermal and other forms of energy.
The biggest hurdles may be political and cultural, however. With many politicians still beholden today to the money and lobbyists of the fossil fuel industry, it may be incumbent upon the people to rise up and demand change – and that means electing leaders who grasp the urgency of the dire need to create a carbon-neutral future by the year 2050.