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Straightforward answers to your questions about climate change.
Ask MIT Climate is here to answer your questions about how our planet is changing, how it will impact life on Earth and what we can do about it. Whether it's simple or sticky, about science or solutions, ask us! We work with MIT faculty and scientists to give you clear, no-nonsense answers grounded in the best scientific information. New answers posted every month.
Which is more likely: electric airplanes or hydrogen-powered airplanes?
Airplanes burn a lot of dirty, carbon-emitting jet fuel to keep themselves airborne, making the aviation industry one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases. That’s why it is crucial to find cleaner ways to power our planes, says Steven Barrett, Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, director of the MIT Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment, and leader of the MIT Electric Aircraft Initiative.
What is “sustainability”? Is it the same thing as taking action on climate change?
You might have heard the word “sustainability” in conversations about climate change—as in a “sustainable economy,” or a “sustainable energy system.” In the context of climate change, this usually means changing our energy, transportation and other systems so that they don’t contribute to warming the planet. But sustainability is a broader concept than just preventing climate change.
Is there a place in the atmosphere where carbon dioxide is concentrated, and if so, can we remove it?
If the carbon dioxide (CO2) in Earth’s atmosphere were clustered in certain spots, then it might be easier to remove CO2 from the air by building machines that capture CO2 in those places. But this is not the case, says Jesse Kroll, MIT professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Ralph M. Parsons Laboratory for Environmental Science and Engineering. Kroll says the CO2 emitted by cars, factories, and other sources mixes thoroughly into the atmosphere, so the amount of CO2 in the air is more or less consistent around the world.