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How to Reduce Global Warming for Fun and Profit

It's easy to get depressed about climate change. We've made so little progress in reducing carbon-dioxide emissions that our previous goal - to limit the rise in global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius - is almost laughable. But what if companies could make money from carbon dioxide, the heat-trapping gas that's the main contributor to global warming? We're not actually so far off from turning emissions into commodities, it turns out. In the United States alone, a number of companies aim to convert waste carbon dioxide into chemicals that can be used to make products we buy every day: bleach, baking soda, car seats, diapers, even fuel. What's more, these companies aren't just green do-gooders. They're all on the verge of commercialization and aim squarely at making money. There's certainly potential: The market for jet fuel alone was $200 billion in 2010. "The world is moving toward carbon capture, and if they can do it while making money, they'd much rather do it that way," says Stacy MacDiarmid, a spokeswoman for Skyonic, based in Austin, Texas. Skyonic sets up shop near carbon emitters, like power plants, and captures their emissions. It then combines them with salt, water and electricity to yield high-purity sodium bicarbonate, aka baking soda, as well as hydrochloric acid and bleach. The company will open its first commercial carbon-capture plant later this month and believes it will generate $50 million in annual revenue. More examples via Nat Geo.

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