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Chris Bryant

Finally! Bill Gates and Musk Agree on Something.

Though not a silver bullet, direct air capture is an environmental insurance policy we can’t ignore. 

Part of the direct air capture system at the Carbon Engineering Ltd. pilot facility in Canada.

Part of the direct air capture system at the Carbon Engineering Ltd. pilot facility in Canada.

Photographer: James MacDonald/Bloomberg

When I finally find the courage to tell my young daughter about the climate crisis I’m half-expecting to hear this innocent rejoinder: “If we’ve spewed all that carbon pollution into the air, can’t we just suck it back out again?”

It’s not a silly question. “Direct air capture” (DAC) — an industrial process that removes carbon dioxide from ambient air so it can be locked away underground (or recycled into products like synthetic fuels) — sounds like science fiction. However, the technology to vacuum clean the skies already exists; it just hasn’t been fully industrialized yet. It’s a climate insurance policy we shouldn’t ignore.