Over the past 100 years, the average global temperature has risen by 0.74 °C. That doesn't sound like a lot, but it makes a big difference to the planet. The year 2016 was the hottest since temperature records began! What's worse is that the trend seems to be speeding up. Scientists estimate a temperature increase of 2-4 °C by the end of the 21st century.
Why is this happening, and why is it bad? When we burn fossil fuels like oil, carbon dioxide (CO2) is released into the air. CO2 stops heat escaping from the earth, creating a "greenhouse effect." As the temperature increases, ice melts more quickly and water levels rise. Natural disasters such as forest fires and floods are more likely. Climate change puts people, animals, and the environment at risk.
But one company is working to help solve the problem of CO2. Climeworks, in Switzerland, has developed filter technology to extract CO2 from the air. The machine is the brainchild of engineers Christoph Gebald and Jan Wurzbacher. They were just students when they thought of the idea. It took them nine years to make their dream become a reality.
Gebald and Wurzbacher say the machine can remove 900 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere each year. It can then be sold as a fertilizer, or used to make carbonated drinks and biofuels, which unlike fossil fuels, do not add to the greenhouse effect. Right now, Climeworks is a three-year demonstration project, but the pair hopes that similar systems will soon operate all over the world.
Another company, Studio Roosegaarde in the Netherlands, recently presented a bicycle that cleans the air! As the user cycles, dirty air is sucked into a filter and clean air is released. Atmospheric CO2 is an urgent problem that requires creative design. Hopefully, it is not too late for "green" businesses like these to slow down climate change.