With climate change exacerbating inclement weather and environmental norms across the globe, experts predict an increase of as much as 7 degrees Fahrenheit in global temperatures by the end of the century. To help quell the rapidly rising temperatures, initiatives are pouring millions of dollars into new geoengineering projects worldwide.

There are several projects scientists have started working on that are attracting new investments. One of the most popular forms of geoengineering is what is known as “direct air capture," which sucks carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and stores it in rock miles below the surface in efforts to reduce environmentally-harmful carbon emissions. With companies looking to gain funding from Biden’s award of 1.2 billion to direct air capture projects, recent innovations are allowing these companies to become more profitable. Two significant plants are in Iceland and Texas, and plans are in place to build more in Louisiana, Nairobi, Canada, and more in Europe

However, these plans are considered controversial due to worries over environmental consequences. Many experts say these plants could scramble weather patterns, creating unknown problems. There are also fears that oil companies could use such techniques to justify continuing oil production. At an oil conference this past year, Chief Executive of Occidental Vicki Hollub took note of how geoengineering efforts could extend the longevity of company operations. “This gives our industry a license to continue to operate for the 60, 70, 80 years," Hollub said. 

Views such as those shared by Hollub, however, heighten fears among scientists that the world won’t actually reduce the amount of fossil fuels being used. On the other hand, companies are allowed to purchase credits from such corporations in order to pay for carbon dioxide removal. The Boston Consulting Group expects the market for these credits to grow to 135 billion by 2040. Bill Gates, one of the largest customers of carbon credits, pays $10 million each year in order to counteract his company’s carbon footprint. Microsoft, JPMorgan, and UBS are also examples of companies that have signed long-term deals to buy credits. 

There are several other projects that continue to garner attention and controversy. Another popular practice is solar geoengineering, which entails reflect ingsome of the sun’s radiation away from Earth and helping to offset the rising temperatures caused by greenhouse emissions. However, the two primary methods of achieving this are both controversial; the most popular method involves spreading aerosols in the stratosphere, similar to how erupting volcanoes cool Earth. The second option sends large reflective surfaces into space in order to reflect sunlight before it even reaches the atmosphere. Both of these projects could cost trillions of dollars in research and implementation. However, they also represent new markets companies can expand into with the renewed push toward combatting global warming. In order for either to work, a fleet of aircrafts, able to efficiently work at twice the height that current commercial jets and military aircraft fly at, would be required. While solar geoengineering represents a new market that the aerospace industry can expand into, related political controversy creates speculation over whether these ideas will ever be put into practice.

As the world focuses on combating climate change, geoengineering represents a new and exciting market for companies to expand into. The opportunity to not only profit but also help the planet represents a very exciting opportunity. 

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