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Carbon capturing has gained popularity, despite warnings against it.

By: Angelina Yang

In recent months, the Biden administration, Elon Musk, and companies such as Alphabet and Meta have poured millions up to billions into investment funds, research proposals, grant opportunities, and competitions to develop the carbon-capture technology. Despite the influx of funding, there are multiple stances on whether carbon-capture is truly an environmental solution.

Many billionaires, politicians, and philanthropists endorse carbon-capture technology, which takes carbon out of the atmosphere and stores it underground. Critics say otherwise.

In February, the United Nations noted that climate change has reached an alarming climax. Island nations are in danger of being flooded; this will cause millions to flee their homes in the face of crises such as drought and famine. Underwater habitats will wither away, leading to the possible extinction of marine life. Deaths related to heat, pollution, and malnutrition would spike.

According to an October report from the Global CCS Institute, there are 27 carbon-capture projects operational worldwide and 14 in the United States, with 108 other projects in various stages of production worldwide.

Scientists stated that carbon capture technology is expensive, ineffective, and difficult to scale. They claim that money spent on developing tools diverts attention from funding proven solutions such as renewable energy, leaving oil and gas companies and other heavy carbon emitters to continue their operations. “The idea that this is going to be the fix to the global problem of massive emissions and accelerating climate change is just not borne out by reality, It’s, unfortunately, an attractive myth by the oil industry to perpetuate the idea that we can … have our cake and eat it, too,” said Nikki Reisch, the director of climate programs at the Center for International Environmental Law.

Many experts said, that simply diverting carbon emissions from factory smokestacks won’t do the job, especially since the system must be attached to an emission-emitting factory, making it difficult to scale quickly.

Cam Hosie, the chief executive of 8 Rivers and one of the prize winners of Musk’s competition disagrees, saying his project is on the path to being an inexpensive solution that can scale quicker than other attempts. His creation allows air to pass through a warehouse filled with calcium hydroxide. making it easy to build facilities. “It’s immediately deliverable and immensely scalable,” Hosie added.

Reisch, of the Center for International Environmental Law weighed in as well. “People want to believe there’s a quick fix — but there isn’t,” she said. “We need systemic, structural change.” She also added that carbon-capture plants that attach to factories, such as coal plants, extend the life of fuel sources that should be retired. She stated that it takes significant energy and complex chemical processes to run carbon-capture plants, so scaling this technology could increase other harmful pollutants in the environment.

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