CBS Mornings, a show that has demanded panic over climate change, suggesting the Day After Tomorrow-style doom was coming, that the Covid pandemic might be preferable, on Thursday discovered, oops, maybe we could “reverse climate change.”
Offering a more hopeful tone, correspondent Ben Tracy reported from Iceland where a company is experimenting with removing carbon from the atmosphere and burying it underground: “These things that look like giant air continuing units. They're going to get turned on later today. They will actually suck carbon dioxide out of the air so it doesn't heat up the atmosphere. The reason for this is scientists say we are at a point now where we don't just need to reduce our emissions, we also need to reverse them.”
The graphic hopefully noted, “Reversing climate change?” Talking to Julie Gosalvez from the company Climeworks, Tracy explained, “Here in Iceland, history is about to be made. The world's first large-scale attempt to directly capture carbon dioxide and bury it underground.” According to Gosalvez, it would stay in rock formations for more than 1000 years.
The effort is being supported by Microsoft. Now, of course, Tracy couldn’t resist chiding the capitalistic effort. But Lucas Joppa informed him that the idea made sense because a carbon neutral economy by 2050 is a fantasy:
BEN TRACY: Lucas Joppa is Microsoft's Chief environmental officer. Is this in some way letting you off the hook knowing that you can spend money to offset your emissions?
LUCAS JOPPA: I don't believe so. There's no credible economic model that shows the world achieving a net-zero carbon economy by 2050, which is what the world must do. Without carbon removal playing a significant role in that equation.
This is all quite the change from how CBS Mornings usually reports on climate. In August, the show compared it to the disaster film The Day After Tomorrow. In July, Roxana Saberi casually talked about eliminating the coal industry. In April, CBS touted “climate anxiety” among teens about Earth Day.
And, of course, all during 2020, CBS (and the other networks) found the environmental “silver lining” to the pandemic that has killed millions.
The hopeful news on CBS was sponsored by Toyota. Click on the link to let them know you might like more of such coverage – as well as less panic.
A partial transcript is below. Click “expand” to read more.
CBS This Morning
CBS Graphic: Reversing Climate Change?
GAYLE KING: We have all felt the impact of climate change all summer from those record-breaking wildfires to the catastrophic flooding and deadly heat waves. A recent U.N. report on global warming says this: “Humans must drastically cut the amount of carbon dioxide released into the air, or there will be even more dangers in decades to come. Ben Tracy is in Iceland where one potential solution is starting operations. He'll explain exactly what that means because he got an up-close look first on "CBS Mornings. Ben, good morning to you.
BEN TRACY: Gayle, good morning from Iceland. Of course this country is known for its amazing landscapes, but we came to see all of this. These things that look like giant air continuing units. They're going to get turned on later today. They will actually suck carbon dioxide out of the air so it doesn't heat up the atmosphere. The reason for this is scientists say we are at a point now where we don't just need to reduce our emissions, we also need to reverse them.
JULIE GOSALVEZ (Climeworks): We need all solutions and all approaches.
TRACY: Here in Iceland, history is about to be made. The world's first large-scale attempt to directly capture carbon dioxide and bury it underground.
GOSALVEZ: These are the containers, exactly where the air comes in --
TRACY: Julie Gosalvez is an executive with the Swiss company Climeworks. Today it will start operating 96 fans powered by a nearby geothermal plant.
GOSALVEZ: As soon as the fans are on, every ton of CO2 that's removed is a ton that's helping fight climate change and not contributing to global warming.
TRACY: This is smaller than I thought it would be. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
GOSALVEZ: This is actually a very good thing. This is compact and can capture and store a lot of CO2.
TRACY: The carbon dioxide first gets drawn into collectors.
GOSALVEZ: Then sent here.
TRACY: Processed in this room and mixed with water. Inside this domed building, it gets injected into the ground.
GOSALVEZ: It's trapped into stones.
TRACY: How long does it stay there?
GOSALVEZ: More than a thousand years.
TRACY: Climeworks has big investors including Microsoft which is also paying to offset its own emissions.
LUCAS JOPPA (Microsoft): We do believe that those companies that have more should do more.
TRACY: Lucas Joppa is Microsoft's Chief environmental officer. Is this in some way letting you off the hook knowing that you can spend money to offset your emissions?
JOPPA: I don't believe so. There's no credible economic model that shows the world achieving a net-zero carbon economy by 2050 which is what the world must do. Without carbon removal playing a significant role in that equation.
TRACY: A Canadian company is planning to build this carbon removal plant in West Texas which will remove about a million tons of CO2 a year. United Airlines is a major investor. But skeptics like climate scientist Zeke Hausfather say carbon removal is too expensive and complicated to replicate worldwide.
ZEKE HAUSFATHER: (The Breakthrough Institute): We should not see it as an alternative to cutting our emissions when we can. So there's no magic bullet for climate change. There's only magic buckshot. there's thousands of solutions working together that's going to solve the problem.
TRACY: The folks here in Iceland agree. They say this is not a magic bullet. But if you could build enough of these all over the world, it can be part of the solution, and that begins later today when they turn these things on. Nate?
NATE BURLESON: Just like president Biden said this week, the climate change crisis is our problem.