June 14, 2018: A few years ago, scientists estimated that it would cost $600 to remove a metric ton of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Now, a team of scientists from Harvard believe they have found a way to reduce the cost to as low as $94. In other words, over a period of just six years, new technology reduced the cost of this process by 84 percent.
The new technique essentially involves recycling the carbon dioxide and using it to create gasoline and jet fuel.
Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a greenhouse gas linked to global warming. As the cost of removing it from the atmosphere declines, it becomes more feasible to address global warming concerns without devastating the economy or granting vast new regulatory powers to governments.
This development will not come as a surprise to the general public. According to a Pew Research survey, a majority of Americans (55 percent) expect technology to solve most problems related to climate change.
David Keith, who led the research team to develop this new technique, says it is "built on existing processes and technologies that are widespread in the world." In addition to his role at Harvard, Keith is a founder of Carbon Engineering, a Bill Gates-funded company that has studied how to directly remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
If Keith’s estimates are accurate, it would cost about a dollar to remove "the carbon dioxide released by burning a gallon of gasoline in a modern car." However, research continues in this area, and further dramatic cost reductions would not be surprising.
An earlier Number of the Day highlighted how technology has driven down the price of gasoline over the past decade: the development of American shale oil resources doubled U.S. oil production between 2008 and 2015. After decades of dependence upon foreign oil, fracking technology has put the United States on track to become a net exporter of energy within four years.
- Pew Research Center, "Public views on climate change and climate scientists," October 4, 2016
- The Atlantic, "Climate Change Can Be Stopped by Turning Air Into Gasoline," June 7, 2018
Each weekday, Scott Rasmussen’s Number of the Day explores interesting and newsworthy topics at the intersection of culture, politics, and technology. Columns published on Ballotpedia reflect the views of the author.
Scott Rasmussen is founder and president of the Rasmussen Media Group. He is the author of "Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement Is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System," "In Search of Self-Governance," and "The People’s Money: How Voters Will Balance the Budget and Eliminate the Federal Debt." Read more reports from Scott Rasmussen — Click Here Now.
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