Just when you thought you had global warming figured out, and were lining up your strategy for cutting emissions and greening your life, along comes this news. "Climate change", in the words of Brad Allenby writing in Greenbiz.com, "has never been inevitable, but a matter of values and political choice, a pricepoint issue." Allenby's comments follow recent claims that it may soon be feasible, using known technologies, to remove CO2 directly from the atmosphere--essentially providing the same service as our hard-pressed forests and ecosystems.
Simple translation: we may find ourselves able to go beyond the reduction of new emissions and actually remove existing, historical CO2 from the atmosphere. And the even more far fetched part is that we could conceivably regulate just the amount of this greenhouse gas we want--taking it back to, say, the amount present when the industrial revolution began.
Allenby, however, issues a caution...and I heartily agree. Such a paradigm shift moves climate change from a challenging enough "simply stop what you're doing" mission to an even more globally challenging fix involving the "network of natural, human and built systems that define the world as it is today."
One can only imagine the nature of the push and pull between all parties--from scientists, to environmentalists, politicians, academics, architects, engineers, and industrialists--as such a capability ramps up and begs the question: who's in charge here?
p.s.: Stay tuned for more updates on this 'developing story'. Meanwhile, you may want to bone up a bit: take a look at the extremely informative Ph.D. dissertation by Joshuah Stolaroff at Carnegie Mellon University, entitled Capturing CO2 From Ambient Air: A Feasibility Assessment.