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Taylor Swift’s Super Bowl Jet-Setting Highlights Carbon Removal Problems

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To get to the Super Bowl on time, Taylor Swift took a private jet from Tokyo to Los Angeles and then hustled to Las Vegas. The carbon removal company Spiritus estimated that her journey of roughly 5,500 miles produced about 40 tons of carbon dioxide—about what is generated by charging nearly 5 million cellphones. But don’t worry, the company assured her critics: It would take those emissions right back out of the sky.

Spiritus wants to help Taylor and her Swifties ‘Breathe’ without any CO2 ‘Bad Blood,’” it said in a pun-laden pitch to reporters. “It’s a touchdown for everyone.”

The startup is among dozens, if not hundreds, of businesses trying to permanently remove climate-warming gases from the atmosphere. Its approach involves drawing carbon directly from the air and burying it, but others sink it in the ocean. Last week, Graphyte, a venture backed by Bill Gates, began compacting sawdust and other woody waste that are rich in carbon into bricks that it will bury deep underground.

The worry is that carbon removal will be something we do so that business-as-usual can continue,” said Sara Nawaz, director of research at American University’s Institute for Carbon Removal Law and Policy. “We need a really big conversation reframe.”

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