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NAS Report Says Efforts To Scrub Carbon From Atmosphere Must Be Increased

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The National Academy of Sciences has warned about the necessity of immediately addressing the excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

In its new report, the organization made up of respected researchers said that the world needs to eliminate about 10 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide from the air every year by mid-century. The report admitted that there are new technologies and techniques to get rid of the excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but all these are being offset by the continuous greenhouse gas emissions from around the world.

The committee hopes that the report, which is published on the organization's website, will pave the way into making these technologies and techniques more widely available worldwide.

Reversing Global Warming

In April earlier this year, the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii reported that the average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen to 410 parts per million (ppm), the highest monthly average 800,000 years. Unfortunately, there are no signs that the emission of excess carbon dioxide will slow down or stop any time soon.

The 2018 BP Statistical Review of World Energy, in its report, revealed that the carbon dioxide emission in 2017 was 426 million metric ton or nearly 2 percent higher compared to 2016.

The accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a big problem because it is a heat-trapping gas that contributes to the changing climate. Moreover, it takes a really long time — about thousands of years — before it is absorbed by natural influences, such as the ocean, from the atmosphere.

"It causes one to think differently about the climate problem when you have a backstop," stated Steve Pacala, a biologist from Princeton University and chair of the committee, in an interview. "And the ultimate temperature we have to suffer through is going to be lower."

What Can Be Done

The 370-page report also detailed how the world can band together to remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere before the most drastic negative effects of global warming happen. It urges nations to invest in technologies and techniques in order to remove and drastically reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses in the air.

Among the recommended actions include planting more trees, restoring coastal plants, and conserving soils better. The committee also named technologies such as direct air capture that involve the use of giant fans to suck the carbon out from the air and inject it to the ground.

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