Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Shirley. Shirley Wonders, “Can we reverse our carbon emissions by inventing new technology?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Shirley!
Have you been WONDERing with us for a while? If so, you may already know a thing or two about climate change. Maybe you’ve read about the effects of fossil fuels. Maybe you’ve learned about your own carbon footprint. Perhaps you’ve even found yourself asking: Is there a way to reverse carbon emissions?
When people talk about carbon in the atmosphere, they’re referring to carbon dioxide. That’s a gas that traps heat and keeps it close to the Earth. While this is important for keeping the planet warm enough for life, too much carbon is a problem. It contributes to rising temperatures and other climate issues.
Many everyday activities cause carbon emissions. Since the Industrial Revolution, human activities have created a great deal of carbon. Today, nearly a third of carbon emissions are caused by transportation. Other top causes are electricity, agriculture, and industry.
In recent decades, humans have worked hard to slow carbon emissions. They’ve built wind farms and electric cars. People have driven less, switched to LED bulbs, and used less electricity at home. However, experts still say it isn’t enough.
How can we avoid the worst impacts of climate change? Most experts believe humans need to reverse some of the damage that’s already been done. That means finding a way to absorb carbon from the atmosphere. Luckily, there are already a few methods of doing so.
One way to remove carbon from the atmosphere is to better care for Earth’s forests. Trees are major consumers of carbon dioxide due to photosynthesis. However, many have been lost to deforestation. By restoring forests, humans can remove some carbon from the air.
Farms and gardens can also make a difference by adding carbon to soil. Practices like using compost and planting cover crops can help with this. Scientists are also working to develop plants that grow deeper roots. This would make crops more resistant to drought and more likely to add carbon to the soil.
Another solution lies in developing technology that can remove carbon from the air. It’s called direct air capture (DAC). This involves creating machines that can scrub carbon from the atmosphere and store it for use elsewhere. The stored carbon could be used in farming and gardening. It may also be used to create new rocks or concrete.
Technology similar to DAC is already in use. It’s called BECCS (bio-energy with carbon capture and storage). Instead of removing carbon from the air, though, it captures the gas at the source. BECCS catches carbon from industry and transportation and stores it for future use.
Most experts say that both removing carbon from the air and cutting practices that cause emissions are necessary. If humans are able to do so, they may avoid the worst effects of climate change.
What do you think? Which of these solutions sound most promising? Stopping climate change requires many people to work together. Perhaps you have an idea of your own!
Standards: NGSS.ESS3.D, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.SL.4, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.L.2