The solution is two steps. First, every nation must achieve net zero emissions by decreasing CO2 emissions. Second, is to dramatically increase CO2 capture or drawdown. Blessed with geothermal energy, Iceland is leading the way with no fossil fuel burning for heat or electricity. Fossil fuels are only burned by cars, trucks and airplanes. To solve that problem, Iceland is developing growing algae in large vats that become a biofuel. While the amount of CO2 coming out of the tailpipe may be about the same as burning gasoline, the big CO2 saving comes about with no refining and no transporting of fossil fuels to Iceland. And to grow algae pulls down four tons of CO2 for every ton of biomass. The next challenge is to refine algae to work as jet fuel. Iceland is still working on how to scale this up. Photosynthesis is the most efficient, least energy intense, way to pull CO2 out of the atmosphere. When plant fiber (grown without fertilizers) replaces fossil fuels and petroleum-based plastics, along with dramatic reductions of emissions, we’ll reverse climate change and may enjoy a greener planet with healthier water cycles.

Rob Moir, Ph.D. is Executive Director of the Ocean River Institute. He writes Clam Chowdah dot org blog and hosts Moir’s Environmental Dialogues iTalk radio.