The Story of Carbon Capture In Our World

Have you seen this graph before?

Okay sure, if you’re a connoisseur of dicey realities, then you’re intimately familiar. But if these zigzagging lines and weird acronyms are new to you, here’s a simplified version.

For nearly a million years, the amount of carbon in our air went up a bit and back down a bit. Then recently: carbon has gone waaay up — up more than ever before. And so far, no turning back.

But wait, what the heck — there’s something tiny happening at the very end of that line. Let’s zoom in.

Too Many Carbons In The Air

Carbon and oxygen have been pairing up as CO₂ and floating off into the sky faster and faster for generations. Instead of escaping beyond the sky and into space, most skybound CO₂ pieces stay and become part of an air layer that surrounds our earth. We call this air layer atmosphere.

Earth’s air layer works somewhat like a poofy coat and somewhat like a one-way mirror. When our bodies are warm, a poofy coat can slow down the freezing outdoor air’s ability to make us cold. However, if our body and coat are already quite cold when we re-enter a warm building, the poofy coat can also slow down our ability to warm up! This is why cold weather outdoorsy people quickly unzip or take off their coat when back inside.

The poofy coat has this temperature delaying ability because a thick layer of air is trapped in the poof itself. If your body and poofy coat start off cold, then the warm air must first slowly warm up the poofy air barrier before the poofy air can warm up your body. The poofy air layer warms up (and cools down) very slowly, so our body also changes temperature very slowly.

Earth benefits immensely from this temperature delaying. Your city only gets warm sunlight, say, 12 hours per day. As the sun sets and the warm light fades away, Earth’s air layer gets colder very slowly. Then as the sun rises and beams down, the air layer gets warmer also very slowly. These slow changes keep the temperature far more constant than, say, our moon. Our moon gets the same sun rays, but there’s no air layer so the temperature can swing up to 100ºC during the day and down to 170ºC during the night.

So Earth’s air layer is great! And a sliiightly thicker air layer from more CO₂ would mean sliiightly more stable temperatures if the poofy coat analogy was perfect. It’s not perfect. Instead, this CO₂ does weird things.

Each tiny CO₂ bumps into various things moving through the air. Sometimes a CO₂ encounters a rocket or a bird and promptly gets pushed out of the way. But more often, a tiny CO₂ crosses paths with a tiny ray of visible or invisible light. Most of the *visible* light waltzes through the CO₂, but the CO₂ likes to reflect or absorb much of this *invisible* light. Crucially, the vast majority of the light coming down from the sun to the Earth is visible. Thus, it mostly passes through the air layer and we get to see the sun without much haze blocking our view — clouds being a major exception! On earth, much of this visible light is turned into a few forms of invisible light. These now-invisible lights bounce back up into the air layer and bump into CO₂ again, but CO₂ now decides to reflect or absorb more of this light simply because it’s more invisible.

We care that the air layer allows more light to enter than it allows to exit. That causes a gradual build-up of light. More light means more heat and more heat means higher average temperatures. This is the one-way mirror effect — AKA the greenhouse effect. When we put more CO₂ and other “greenhouse gases” into our air, the greenhouse effect is turned up.

Now, I wouldn’t expect you to immediately conclude that these increased average temperatures are terrible for our world. Temperature impacts our world in a ton of direct and extremely indirect and hidden ways. Some of those ways might even be “good” for certain communities. Surely northern Russia land owners would appreciate warmer weather allowing crops to be farmed there.

On the other hand, this additional CO₂ seems to also increase the likelihood and severity of natural disasters. Many factors influence natural disasters in complex and non-obvious ways. We would want to undeniably prove this with experiments, but for some odd reason it’s frowned upon for researchers to manipulate our temperatures and trigger their own natural disasters… But because elevated CO₂ may be realistically harming the lives and livelihoods of many people, it’s worth acting before we understand perfectly.

The Everyday Suspects

Okay, so what would it take to cut CO₂ out of our lives? Consider yesterday. You probably woke up in a building perched on a concrete block. You didn’t make that concrete block yesterday, but its ingredients required tons of CO₂ that you’re now “using” bit by bit every day. You probably slept comfortably because the building’s temperature was controlled by a heating/cooling box that’s powered by burning coal or natural gas far away. Burning also releases CO₂. Sheets and blankets probably swaddled — or entangled 😒 — you throughout the night. These mostly polyester and cotton fabrics were once oils, natural gases or disordered bundles of cotton fluff. Energy needing CO₂ is also needed to power many special machines to transform these raw ingredients into the clean, colorful, and hyper-organized threads we surround ourselves with.

I released CO₂ from all of those places even before I got out of bed! Later in the day, CO₂ was required to create foods, transport me to stuff, transport stuff to me, deal with my trash, and tons of other fundamentals of life. And probably the same for you! You and I kick CO₂ into the air for pretty mundane things. It turns out, the world’s CO₂ is mostly from these boring, everyday tasks.

We can’t simply solve this carbon problem by cutting out worthless activities that are releasing a massive amount of CO₂. These activities don’t exist. Some activities are absolutely CO₂-extravagant — if not worthless — but their piece of the world’s CO₂ pie is so small that your health-conscious aunt would be proud. Also, some activities release massive amounts of CO₂, but you and I have come to heavily expect or rely on their sources of warmth, shelter, sustenance, movement and more. Cutting out CO₂ is worthwhile, but it won’t be enough and soon enough to address this issue.

CO₂ Is Like Water, Nitrogen, and Fish

You and I can find and understand possible CO₂ solutions by looking at the big, dumb, fundamental pieces first.

What is this air-CO₂ problem if not a building block of life getting out of balance? Like carbon, you and I also need water, oxygen, and nitrogen to complete many daily tasks. None of these building blocks are destroyed after use. Instead, Mother Nature scrambles them into water vapor in clouds or CO₂ in our air layer. Of course, you and I have insatiable appetites for more building blocks. Mother Nature can’t create more water out of nothing, so she brilliantly unscrambles these clouds and forces rain to return to us needy humans. But Mother Nature isn’t perfect.

Sometimes Mother Nature doesn’t unscramble and balance the building blocks fast enough. That’s how droughts happen naturally. Also, sometimes Mother Nature doesn’t have the ecosystem tools to balance building blocks when they get really out of whack. Usually, some disruption has to be especially extreme and unexpected. Over earth’s last million years, there’s probably nothing more extreme and unexpected than modern humans.

Nitrogen

For millions of years, Mother Nature decided when and where plants and animals grew. Humans hunted and gathered this somewhat unpredictable food to survive. Then 10,000 years ago, humans staged an agriculture coup and stole the power to decide plant animal growth: humans invented farming. Farming is ultimately making many copies of something. Those many copies require a ton of building blocks mostly provided by Mother Nature’s soil. Farming is so extreme and unexpected that it forces soil to run low on some necessities like nitrogen. Crops can’t grow there anymore. Mother Nature‘s tools for rebalancing would be to slowly sprout other plants that leave nitrogen behind or to raise nitrogen-rich rocks to the soil surface like new teeth. Humans farmers don’t want these other plants — let alone slow ones. Farmers also want to speed up their crop care duties with big tools that get damaged by rocks. So the rocks are extracted.

Farming’s nitrogen-soil problem is a lot like our carbon-air issue! Some building block is out of balance. Mother Nature has ecosystem tools to resolve imbalances. This imbalance is so extreme and unexpected that these tools aren’t sufficient. Humans have to step up to solve the problem.

Maybe our CO₂ solution is also like the nitrogen one! Farmers discovered they could force nitrogen back into the soil faster by growing less useful nitrogen-donating plants after harvesting their favorite nitrogen-hungry crops. This method worked and was the predominant way to boost soil nitrogen for many centuries before an evil genius found a way to liquefy and spray nitrogen into the soil. Great! So if I pulled the CO₂ out of *my* air, would I avoid the unsavory effects of exacerbated natural disasters, possible subsequent social instability, and warming temperatures? No, sadly not. Each farmer can successfully boost their nitrogen levels because their nitrogen-rich soil doesn’t rapidly mix with the soil on their direct and indirect neighbors’ properties. With CO₂, we don’t own and control a certain bubble of air. Instead, we all share this air that mixes across our earth.

Even if we did control our own air bubbles, we’re heavily impacted by the air bubbles around us and around the world. Your country’s collective CO₂ levels could be high enough to aggravate a natural disaster that impacts you. Or this terrible natural disaster could be half the world away and their weakened economy could still cause you turmoil. This is, of course, not quite the case with soil and farming.

Fish

Oceans and fish are more like air and CO₂. If one greedy person catches a massive proportion of fish, both the other fishers and the greedy fisherman can be harmed. Initially, the other fishers will catch and sell less than planned. Next year and beyond, even the greedy fisherman will be harmed when fewer momma and papa fish remain to make babies and thus even fewer fish can be caught.

Oceans are the hardest version of this overfishing problem. Fishers from the fictitious country of Fairistan may capture a sustainable amount of fish from their ocean shore. But down the shoreline, if the Unfairistan people are overfishing their country’s waters, then the Fairistan people will surely end up with fewer fish for next season’s haul. Fairistan has a few options. First, they can do nothing and let Unfairistan unfairly reduce Fairistan’s “sustainable” fish amount lower and lower each year. Second, Fairistan could adopt Unfairistan’s overfishing approach and both countries would have even less fish each year. Fishing would probably become almost worthless. Finally, Fairistan could persuade Unfairistan to also capture a lower, but sustainable, amount of fish! Maybe the countries agree to an unlimited — but very short — fishing season. Or maybe each country gets to catch a maximum number of fish per year. Whatever the agreement, Fairistan has to monitor the Unfairstan fishing ports for proper rule following and vice versa.

Countries have similar options for managing CO₂ in our air. For centuries, all countries have picked the do-nothing or over-exploit options that have caused excessive buildup of CO₂ in our earth’s air. And I don’t blame them! We mostly didn’t know about these consequences of our CO₂ actions and maybe it’s been worthwhile to improve other aspects of society at the cost of some CO₂ consequences. Increasingly, you and I know more about CO₂ impacts and many people feel that releasing CO₂ is gradually less worthwhile.

Our communities are starting to turn to Fairistan’s third option of a lower-but-sustainable agreement. Now if CO₂ were just like fish, there would be a “port” for CO₂. This would be a small, central place where each country’s CO₂ would appear and could be monitored by other countries with moderate effort. Crucially, you and I could enforce rules based on CO₂ port happenings. Unfortunately, CO₂ ports don’t exist physically or virtually. Through dozens of different ways and at most any time, you and I kick invisible CO₂ directly into the air. That’s hard for your neighbors to reliable track and enforce — let alone people across the globe.

If CO₂ were just like fish, everybody could be convinced that we collectively suffer from over-releasing CO₂. You and I don’t contest the bad effects of overfishing. Of course, you and I don’t necessarily agree on the effects of CO₂ and how bad those effects would be. We might not agree because our CO₂ knowledge isn’t perfect. Everybody would love to know all of the secrets of CO₂ in air! We’d probably have to live through those secrets to learn them and that could be too disastrous. If we don’t agree on the effects of this CO₂ phenomenon, it’s going to be much harder to make these bitter-pill international CO₂ agreements.

Finally, CO₂ isn’t like fish because CO₂ mixes around the globe far more than fish. Countries find it imperfect, but sufficient to split up the ocean into each country’s waters and then set fishing agreements with a few of their neighboring countries. Many smaller and more-approachable agreements are made across the globe. Since our earth’s winds can shoot one country’s CO₂ around the globe in weeks, we are better off with all 200 countries agreeing to one, single set of rules. That’s incredibly tough.

Nitrogen acts a lot like CO₂ until Mother Nature can’t handle us humans.

Fish act a lot like CO₂ until countries need to agree to specific rules.

CO₂ has unique twists and turns that make it difficult.

But CO₂ also has unique weaknesses.

Capturing Carbon Profitably

With water, nitrogen, and fish, we worry about running out. With CO₂ we worry about having too much. Instead of solving the running-out problem by pushing water, nitrogen, and sometimes baby fish back into the ecosystem, the CO₂ buildup problem requires pulling. Pulling CO₂ out of earth’s air layer will, of course, reduce or reverse the CO₂ buildup. Pulling out CO₂ will also result in a stockpile of leftover CO₂ building blocks. We get to (or have to) do something with this leftover CO₂. Since you and I have “insatiable appetites for more building blocks,” maybe we could incorporate the leftover CO₂ into useful items and sell them. And if the selling price is quite high — or the cost of pulling CO₂ is quite low — then the CO₂ puller can make money.

By making money, no communities have to persuade the CO₂ puller to tear down our CO₂ buildup. The puller wants to pull CO₂. Also, we hated the fact that CO₂ mixes around the globe in weeks. Now we love it. The puller doesn’t need to move around the globe finding new pockets of CO₂. Instead, the mixing air will gradually bring CO₂ to them. Carbon-concious communities don’t need to convince other people or other nations to pull “their” CO₂. International agreements aren’t needed for a single CO₂ puller to capture carbon out of all of the global air!

That’s extremely promising, but how can we actually pull CO₂ out of the air and into long term storage? Is this possible today?

Maybe we missed something when we zoomed into earth on that graph…

Let’s pan around a bit.

Oh whoa, that’s a giant shadow behind the earth 🤔

Two stick figures were hiding in the shadows! They’re also pulling on ropes to oppose the previous stick figures.

These two must be the pulling CO₂ out of the air! It looks like that top figure is pulling significantly harder than the confused(?) bottom figure. What’s going on?

Have you ever thought about how trees work?

Like at some point you were curious enough to wonder how adults grow big and strong. Well, adults eat food that your body turns into bones and muscles etc. So do trees eat dirt to grow big and strong?

Tree roots are in the dirt. Roots support the giant trunks and branches that keep growing. So if we zoomed into a root, we’d expect a migration into the tree by all of the building blocks — i.e. carbon, water, nitrogen etc.

But not all building blocks enter the tree through the roots! The tree has a ludicrous plan for carbon.

Most tree cells have a skeleton of carbons. Essentially all of those carbons *skydive* into tiny special openings in leaves as CO₂! Each leaf groups them into these strong carbon “bones”. The carbon bones are pushed back into the wood and combined into various cell skeletons to form larger and stronger branches and trunks. AND these carbon building blocks even move out of the trunk and into the roots —running past the water and nutrient stampede.

That’s absolutely bonkers! Our trees and other plants create themselves by pulling in tiny CO₂ building blocks from this air — an air that feels so empty to us. These plants are a possible solution for profitably pulling a massive amount of CO₂ out of the air: Mother Nature.

Option 1 — Boosting Mother Nature

Over the past million years, our ancestors also released CO₂, but Mother Nature created the tools to eventually capture and reuse every single CO₂. Then 300 years ago, humans changed. We started kicking out extra CO₂ by using machines that ate wood, coal, and gas. Mother Nature adapted and captured most — but not quite all — of this new carbon. Fast-forward 150 years, humans invented more powerful machines and other sources of CO₂. For every four new pieces of CO₂, Mother Nature could only trap three. Every fourth CO₂ got stuck in Earth’s air layer.

Today, humans kick out an additional 14x more of this extra CO₂, but Mother Nature only pulls out and stores every other one. While falling further behind, it’s incredible that Mother Nature increased extra-CO₂ capturing abilities by 10x over the past 150 years!

Maybe you and I can either duplicate the CO₂ pulling parts of Mother Nature, improve these parts, or both.

Sinking CO₂

Oceans are one huge way Mother Nature traps CO₂. There isn’t some wall or competition between the ocean and air. Instead, these two often work together and share resources. When air holds a lot of CO₂, the ocean will take on some of that excess and mix it with minerals to store it. However, each CO₂-mineral mix makes the waters a bit more acidic. As these CO₂-mineral stores build up over the centuries, the acidity rises and gradually kills off coral reefs and some other marine life. It’s not immediately obvious to me that destroying the coral “rainforests of the sea” and other water creatures is worse than the corresponding change in climate, but this route definitely isn’t ideal.

We could maybe “stir” the oceans. This would even out the more acidic top layer of water with the colder and nutrient-rich deeper layers. Then, the ocean can suck more CO₂ into mineral stores. But what happens when the deep sea gets more acidic and warmer? And bringing nutrients to the ocean surface doesn’t sound harmful, right? These multiplying side effects are the catch. As we boost one part of Mother Nature, we also change additional parts in unintended or unknown ways. That’s somewhat unavoidable. However, since water floats between the oceans, side effects are more easily carried across the globe. Side effects multiply and new ones pop up.

Boosting Algae

The ocean’s other main CO₂ puller prevents itself from floating across the ocean by clustering in massive fields across the surface: algae. These extremely diverse and tiny plants float around in the sunny ocean layer and soak up dissolved CO₂. Instead of skydiving, CO₂ scuba dives into and through the walls of algae. Sunlight beams down and powers teeny bio-batteries that allow algae to group the CO₂ into carbon clusters just like leaves. One in ~10,000 of these carbon clusters sinks down to the ocean floor. Humans haven’t lived long enough to experiment with this, but some of those carbon pieces seem to slowly become oil. So, yes, you and I pull up oil from the ocean floor, burn it in our cars and buildings, and some of the carbon returns as oil. Amazing! However, calling oil “renewable” is like calling dragon slaying “safe” after someone finally saves the princess, but 1000s also tried and died.

Regardless, algae seems to turn some CO₂ into long-term storage oil with minimal side effects. Algae’s other CO₂ bones have a different fate. With water’s support, algae forgoes trunks and roots and instead abandons the other 9,999 carbon clusters to float throughout the water. Just like before, this allows the algae side effects to spread across the ocean. Sea creatures eat these carbon clusters and exhale more CO₂. The ocean is forced to store most of this exhaled CO₂ into the familiar acidic mineral mixes. These new sea creatures also need more oxygen. They steal it from other ocean areas, which expands dead zones. You and I might still accept these downsides for the upside of capturing CO₂. However, additional algae side effect waves keeps reverberating throughout Mother Nature.

Maybe ocean mixing, algae, or another ocean solution proves worthwhile after wrangling in the many side effects. Until then, better solutions might come from a more isolating side of Mother Nature: land.

Planting Plants

Outside of oceans, Mother Nature pulls in almost all other CO₂ through soil and plant life on land. Land-based plants must fight gravity to grow larger and soak up more sunlight. This is why they need roots and dense carbon structures like tree trunks. Gravity pulling down these heavy structures partially prevents them from moving across the regions and earth. Oceans, rivers, and mountains also act as moats and walls to help keep their side effects contained — at least as long as nothing floats off into the sea or sky.

Ever since our agriculture coup, us humans have been creating massive fields of plants that soak up CO₂ with relatively mild global side effects. Plants push some carbon into the soil, but the rest is organized into the body of the plant. To continually capture more CO₂, a plant would have to live and grow forever. Plants instead reach adulthood, where they stop growing, eventually die, and release all of their CO₂ as they decompose. Even if you and I were to fast-forward 100 years and turn the deserts of Africa or Australia into dense forests, we’d be quickly looking for new continent-sized forests to trap the new CO₂ we keep releasing. Finding unused forest-friendly land gets seemingly impossible fast.

These new, world-scale fields and forests may offer some great CO₂-fighting help, but ultimately Mother Nature alone lacks the density we need and probably suffers too many unsavory side effects otherwise.

Option 2 — Capturing CO₂ With Machines

Remember our confused friend who was lightly pulling down some of Earth’s extra CO₂? They’re new here. Some humans recently realized you and I don’t have to depend on Mother Nature for pulling in CO₂ and storing it. Machines may have dug us into this carbon mess, but machines might also lift us out.

The hard bodies of machines — with their walls, pipes, and air-tight vessels — allow you and I to control exactly what enters into and exits from them. With this harsh separation, machines can capture the CO₂ without forcing ripples in the ecosystem pond.

Unlike growing new forests, machines won’t run out of land. Way more CO₂ can be captured from a field of these machines than a field of trees. Instead of relying on CO₂ to skydive or scuba dive into plants, carbon capture machines encounter way more CO₂ sucking them in with giant fans. This allows machines to require less space than plants.

Machines also don’t have to rely on the tiny pores of leaves and algae to absorb CO₂ that’s floating by. Instead, our machines can use special liquids and solids. Before the carbon and oxygen paired off as CO₂, the carbon was part of a fancy structure held together with energy — like wood or oil. Then when you and I needed that energy to power our cars/houses/lives-generally, we stole it by tearing down the fancy structure and leaving individual carbons to fend for themselves. They each paired up with two oxygens as CO₂ and had way less energy. Amazingly, our special liquids and solids can pair up with these lowly CO₂ pieces and eek out some more energy. Energy is almost always in short supply, so this donation is welcomed and our special liquids and solids bind to a ton of the CO₂ being blown over them.

Then when the special materials are full of CO₂, the capture machines pull a dirty trick. They dowse the CO₂-material pairing with an overload of energy. To help out, the CO₂-material pairing soaks up some of this energy by splitting back into CO₂ and the special material. Right then, the now-pure CO₂ is sucked into a tank for storage. After the energy overload ends, the special material is returned to the fans to bind to more CO₂ and repeat the capturing process.

When trees reach their maximum size — i.e. their “storage tanks” reach max capacity — the leaves stop absorbing CO₂. This only takes a few decades or so. For machines, new tanks can always be made, so machines can run forever and thus need even less space. The energy overload step, predictably, requires a ton of energy — energy that must be carbon-free via solar or similar. Amazingly, even with the necessary fields of solar arrays, the carbon capture machines would take up way less space than the massive Africa and Australia desert forests. If we captured the entire world’s new CO₂ each year — including Mother Nature’s share — we’d only need these capture machines and solar fields spread across 10% of Texas. That’s a huge space savings!

Seeking Profitability

When we looked at water, nitrogen, and fishies, we settled on needing all nations to agree to some thorny CO₂ agreement — unless carbon capture became profitable! In the early 2020s, a few giant carbon capture machines are already built and selling off their captured CO₂. Great! So when can we count on giant carbon capture fields? Err… well these captured CO₂ sales aren’t exactly profitable and they’re arguably far worse.

In our early 2020s, captured CO₂ just isn’t very valuable. We can make a small army of CO₂ tanks, but there are only a few ways we know to turn this carbon into something useful. None of those ways provides enough value for you and I to pay the full cost of the CO₂ tank. Instead, the carbon capture machines lose money on each and every CO₂ they trap. Governments or private groups foot the expensive bill to keep the CO₂ machines on and learning. Much learning is needed! Humans desperately want innovation on how to use this CO₂. Until then, we’ll have to use our captured CO₂ to… make more CO₂ 😔

One initial way to use captured CO₂ has been mixing it with hydrogens in a fancy way that makes a gasoline-like mixture. You and I can buy this fuel and use it to power our cars. That’s amazing, but sad. We’re trying to get CO₂ out of the air, but by powering our lives with this fuel, the captured carbons are being released back into the air. Yes, I’d prefer everybody adopt this CO₂-gas over fossil fuels, but at some point we need to capture CO₂ and keep it out of the air for good! The other main use for captured CO₂ isn’t much better. In Texas, we pump captured, liquid CO₂ into old oil wells. The liquid CO₂ slowly fills up the well and loosens oil globs stuck to the walls. We pull out the oil and seal the CO₂ inside. Of course we proceed to burn the oil and create more CO₂, but at least the CO₂ in the well might stay sealed for many generations.

In a Profitable World

One more thing about those international agreements. Let’s pretend someone invents an amazing CO₂-based wonder-material called Carbranium. It’s perfect for buildings, household goods, feeding animals and everything in between! There’d be so much demand for and value in Carbranium that CO₂ capture can profit from selling tanks of carbon. New carbon capture companies would start building tons of new machines (and their solar panels). Eventually, the world would have enough machines to fill 10% of Texas and the amount of air CO₂ would finally start to decrease. After maybe a decade, the CO₂ line will have broken back into the “normal” CO₂ zone — back in harmony with the past million years. Finally 😌

At that point, Carbranium would still be valuable. The people capturing CO₂ wouldn’t have any reason to stop pulling out carbon. So they’d continue and CO₂ levels would keep dropping — eventually becoming lower than the past. Instead of an issue of higher CO₂ than normal, we’d have much lower CO₂ in our air. Is that also bad? Will there actually be fewer natural disasters? Will plants have a hard time growing? What will less-acidic oceans do to marine life? How will you and I or our families have to change our lives? Well, once again, we don’t really know. It may not be worthwhile getting there to find out. There’s a chance we can carefully balance unlimited CO₂ capture with unlimited CO₂ release, but more likely we all need to agree to limit these CO₂ capture machines to keep us in the “normal” zone. Getting everybody on Earth to agree to CO₂ capture quotas or taxes probably requires those big, thorny international agreement… again.

In Our World

Sure, it might be worthwhile to explore this profitable carbon capture future. I’d love to see more uses for CO₂ like this Carbranium! However, if we’re going to need tricky international agreements anyways, why not support international agreements today as we hope to bring CO₂ levels down — not back up. Agreements are unsexy and feel like a consolation prize. But agreements can be wildly successful! If you and I work to understand our carbon interests and the interests of everybody else’s around Earth, we can dodge less-useful agreements and get to a solution faster. You may not personally sign any CO₂ agreements, but you will surely live through their effects.

Who knows, carbon capture machines may prove incredibly useful — even without the profit! If you care about this CO₂ problem, you don’t have to help by improving carbon capture or stoking worldwide agreement. You can reduce the CO₂ you release every day and persuade others to join you. You can donate to help create carbon-free pathways out of poverty. Or you can even keep the CO₂ conversation going — like maybe through zany and excessive online articles that you’re amazed and thankful friends and family actually read 😘

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Technology is overhauling society before our very eyes! Does that trend scare you, excite you, or something in between? Well, same here. John and Zach explain how something works in a *fun* and *deep* way.

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