Behind the Articles: Why Do We Do This?

By: Matthew Lichtenberg, 11th Grade, Research Team

May 3, 2019

As I like to say, “We have a decade to take extreme steps to get carbon out of the atmosphere, or I won’t live to get the senior discount at the movie theater.” Now, that’s an obvious joke, but the underlying motive is still the same; If we don’t change our ways now, and divert most of our focus on this global issue, the Earth will warm uncontrollably. At the time that I wrote this, the latest reading was taken on April 24, and showed 413.67 parts per million (ppm). From what I’ve seen, carbon concentration is highest in May and lowest around September. However, the highest and lowest points have been on the rise recently, as the chart below shows:

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Notice how after 2016, all the lowest points are above 400 ppm. This isn’t, at all. The UN says that we need to stay under 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels, and some say we should be under 1.5 degrees. This chart from CBC News shows where we are now and where we need to be to stay under the benchmarks:

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Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Matthew, how does your rambling tie into your research?” My answer is simple, this  is exactly why my Project Based Learning Team does what we do. We made our website to try and bring awareness to this daunting issue. By researching and covering topics like governmental policies and innovative companies and ideas, we’re showing all of the ways people are trying to cut carbon dioxide. Even so, emissions are still on the rise, and severe weather events like hurricanes are becoming stronger and more frequent. This is why we keep moving forward on the project; to show how much work still needs to be done in the next decade alone.

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Going back to the chart, we need to cut carbon emissions at a rapid rate, and reach net zero by 2080 at the latest. According to the second half of the chart, located below, countries who fund climate policies see a drop in emissions. Not only do we need to step it up in that department, but we also need to fund projects that will remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. One such project is Direct Air Capture, used by companies like Carbon Engineering. They suck air out of the atmosphere, and have a solution that attracts CO2. Using that, they make a compressed jet of pure CO2 which they can use for other purposes. Carbon Capture and Storage is also a solution, in which people capture CO2 and store it in geological formations. CO2 removal projects can be expensive, though, with an optimistic estimate at $50-$600/tonne ,depends on who you ask, which is why funding for these projects would be a crucial part of the plan to stay under any of the UN’s targets.

Tying this back to us, we need change, and we need it fast! After what keeps happening in our government on the subject of climate policy, it’s clear that they aren’t our best bet at getting it done. We believe that by expressing the dire consequences of politicians sitting on their hands when it comes to this issue, we can get people talking and hopefully bring enough awareness to this issue that said politicians will actually want to enact change and save the planet instead of destroying it. Because remember if we don’t, , I won’t live to get the senior discount at the movie theater.