In his letter in the March 9 edition of the Outlook titled “Threat of global climate change real”, Bob Sandford suggests reducing energy consumption and using cleantech solutions like carbon removal is an either/or proposition.
Rather, it’s both/and.
Think of the net-zero challenge as like a bathtub slowly filling up with water. The bathtub is the atmosphere, and the water is CO2. A certain amount of water in the bath is fine, but if it spills over the edge of the tub, we wreck the house. To avoid that, the first thing you do is turn down the flow of water into the tub. That’s cutting new emissions we put into the atmosphere to as close to zero as possible – and our No. 1 priority.
Trouble is, we’re unlikely to get new emissions down to zero anytime soon, and a slow trickle will still cause the tub to overflow. So, we also need to drain some of the water out of the tub. That’s called carbon removal, or moving carbon from air to underground, or to rock, or to oceans, to get the tub level back down to safe levels.
That perfect balance between water slowly trickling in and water draining out is the net-zero part. In short “do our best, remove the rest.”