It is hard to envisage now, but the Permian basin in Texas and New Mexico used to be America’s biggest source of crude oil. At its peak it accounted for more than half of national production. Today, the steel pump-jacks have been replaced by direct-air capture (DAC) units. Powered by the sun, the machines suck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and pump it into the sedimentary rock formations below. There is an elegant symmetry in the way the carbon is being pumped back into the ground. Big Oil has given way to Big Suck.
Editor’s note: Each of these climate-change articles is fiction, but grounded in historical fact and real science. The year, concentration of carbon dioxide and average temperature rise (above pre-industrial average) are shown for each one. The scenarios do not present a unified narrative but are set in different worlds, with a range of climate sensitivities, on different emissions pathways