Smart Ideas: Swiss Scientists Look to Make Fuel From Air

Plus: Does tribal identity now outweigh ideology?

AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski
Add to Briefcase
Feb. 18, 2019, 8 p.m.

Capturing CO2 to make synthetic fossil fuels

Jon Gertner, writing for The New York Times Magazine

A Swiss firm called Climeworks has developed a technology to remove carbon dioxide from the air. Thus far, it's selling the captured CO2 to greenhouses and soda makers. Climeworks's founders believe, however, "that over the next seven years they can bring expenses down to a level that would enable them to sell CO2 into more lucrative markets. Air-captured CO2 can be combined with hydrogen and then fashioned into any kind of fossil-fuel substitute you want. Instead of making bread from air, you can make fuels from air." And ultimately, they look to bury "vast" amounts of carbon deep underground, sold as offsets.

Tribalism becoming as important as ideology

Thomas A. Firey, writing for The Bulwark

Mapping Americans' ideologies has most often been done via two axes—one indicating their comfort with economic intervention by government, and another their comfort with social intervention. This now seems insufficient. A third axis should map group identity, ranging from “'Tribalist' on one end, indicating a strong belief that a group should have special privileges, to 'Universalist' on the other, indicating a belief that rights and privileges should be held by (or denied to) all persons equally. ... In 2016, the Trump electoral coalition succeeded because it attracted a number of tribalist voters from such groups as Christian social conservatives, rurals, blue-collar households, and cultural Southerners." Those groups now seem to be an enduring part of the GOP. The anti-Trump right "would be better served to attempt to create a new party than to try to return the GOP to its previous state. Such a party could be a vital fortress against both Trumpism and the far-left-wing progressivism that is rising in the Democratic party."

Virginia scandals hurt Democrats’ chances

Kyle Kondik, writing for Sabato’s Crystal Ball

Virginia is the only state with a Republican legislature that went blue in 2016, and Democrats will be working hard to win seats there in 2020. The recent scandals involving Gov. Ralph Northam, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, and Attorney General Mark Herring, however, may make it difficult to do so. “Democrats need to pick up two seats in each chamber to win outright control of the state legislature." The statewide elected officials can no longer be top surrogates, likely drawing less attention and raising less money for state legislative candidates than they might have otherwise. “The major Democratic concern isn’t necessarily that a significant slice of Northam voters will defect; instead, it’s that Democrats will be on the wrong end of what even before this scandal broke was an inevitable turnout drop from the most recent election.”

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam AP Photo/Steve Helber, Pool

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.