Renewable energy plant from methane gas. Photo: Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Emerging tech to suck CO2 from the air is getting lots of buzz and cash, but a new paper in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Sustainability proposes a method for atmospheric capture of methane to alleviate warming and buy more time to tackle the bigger CO2 problem.

Why it matters: Methane — a greenhouse gas originating from agriculture, natural gas production, and elsewhere — is emitted in smaller quantities than CO2 but is far more potent at trapping heat on a pound-for-pound basis in the near-term.

What they're saying: "The technique could restore the concentration of methane to levels found before the Industrial Revolution, and in doing so, reduce global warming by one-sixth," the authors write in a separate piece at The Conversation.

How it works: They propose using zeolites — which are porous crystalline structures made from aluminum, silicon and oxygen — that can trap methane.

  • It would arrive via large volumes of air forced into chambers via arrays of electric fans (which would be powered by renewables).

The intrigue: The system they envision would ultimately transform the methane into less-potent CO2, providing some breathing room given methane's potent short-term warming effects.

  • "Methane removal would buy us considerable time to address the [larger] problem of carbon dioxide emissions," Stanford's Rob Jackson, the paper's lead author, tells MIT Technology Review.

Go deeper

A court fight for the ages

The flag flies at half-staff as people mourn on the Supreme Court steps last night. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Ruth Bader Ginsburg — feminist icon, legal giant, toast of pop culture — left this statement with granddaughter Clara Spera as cancer closed in: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."

The big picture: For all that the nation owes "Notorious RBG" — the hip-hop-inspired nickname she enjoyed and embraced — Republicans are planning to do their best to be sure her robe is quickly filled, despite that last wish, with her ideological polar opposite.

Updated 55 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8:15 a.m. ET: 30,539,903 — Total deaths: 952,629— Total recoveries: 20,800,482Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8:15 a.m. ET: 6,726,353 — Total deaths: 198,603 — Total recoveries: 2,556,465 — Total tests: 92,163,649Map.
  3. Politics: In reversal, CDC again recommends coronavirus testing for asymptomatic people.
  4. Health: The dwindling chances of eliminating COVID-19 — Massive USPS face mask operation called off The risks of moving too fast on a vaccine.
  5. Business: Unemployment drop-off reverses course 1 million mortgage-holders fall through safety netHow the pandemic has deepened Boeing's 737 MAX crunch.
  6. Education: At least 42% of school employees are vulnerable.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Health

The dwindling chances of eliminating COVID-19

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

As the coronavirus pandemic drags into its seventh month, it remains an open debate whether the U.S. should aim for the elimination of COVID-19 — and whether we even can at this point.

Why it matters: This is the question underlying all of the political and medical battles over COVID-19. As both the direct effects of the pandemic and the indirect burden of the response continue to add up, we risk ending up with the worst of both worlds if we fail to commit to a course.