Mother Jones: Is Sucking Carbon Out of the Air the Solution to Our Climate Crisis?

In British Columbia, there’s a little valley where the Squamish River snakes down past the cliffs of the Malamute, a popular hiking spot. The hills in all directions are, like much of BC, thickly forested with firs. And nestled in that valley is a newfangled industrial plant that aims to replicate what those millions of trees do: suck carbon dioxide out of the air. The plant was built by Carbon Engineering, a pioneer in the technology known as direct air capture (DAC). In a long, squat building, a huge ceiling fan draws air inside, where it reacts with a liquid chemical that grabs hold of CO2 molecules.This “sorbent” flows into a nearby machine that transforms the gas, which is then stored in pressurized tanks. The goal is to help rid the atmosphere of its most ubiquitous climate change culprit. The Squamish plant will process up to 1,000 metric tons of CO2 annually. That’s a minuscule drop in the bucket of the planet’s annual emissions, an estimated 33 billion metric tons last year, but this plant is only a pilot facility.“