Net-zero—Is it an ambitious, fictitious belief or a soon-to-be reality?

Slowly, but surely, humans are burning this planet. The question is, do we have the guts to save it?

Oscar Petrov
7 min readJan 12, 2021
Image from Facebook by Unknown Author

Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, Isaias, Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky, Wilfred, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta… and counting.

The names before me are not victims, rather they are perpetrators—i.e, the names of the recent tropical wind storms or last year.

3 Industrial Revolutions

200 years ago, the population of the world stood at 1 billion people and has risen by nearly 700% since then. Since the 1800s, our energy consumption has gone up nearly 2700%.

Graph from OurWorldInData

What does 2700% even mean you might be wondering? Well, if you had ten dollars in your bank account, and it went up by 2700%, you would have $280. If the world’s population went up 2700% right now, we would have over 215 billion people roaming and rummaging the Earth.

What good is trying to explain what 200 billion is to a human who barely counts past the numerical twenty in their daily lives? Let’s try to shrink the numbers down a bit.

  • It would take nearly 7000 years to count up to 215,000,000,000 out loud.
  • 215,000,000,000 steps would take you around the Earth 3800 times.
  • The predicted distance of the observable universe is 92 billion light-years, and the number 215 billion is significantly more than double that distance.

So, what does this mean?

Higher consumption of energy corresponds to more CO2 output into the atmosphere (as well as other harsh greenhouse gases) which contributes to global warming. What does a greater output of CO2 into the environment mean, from a broad standpoint, you may be wondering?

When sunlight hits the ozone layer, some of the light is refracted, but the solar light that does manage to get through the ozone layer is eventually converted into heat energy when it hits the ground. Heat energy is unable to get back through the ozone layer. As a result, the heat energy ends up warming the Earth, it being trapped within the Earth’s atmosphere. As the Earth warms, the Earth’s oceans warm which increases it’s acidity. This causes phytoplankton and other autotrophs (organisms that conduct photosynthesis, which includes most plants) to release CO2 back into the atmosphere. It results in a vicious cycle of greater CO2 release into the atmosphere, which in turn warms the Earth, which releases even more CO2, which warms the Earth even more.

Side note: It’s also quite worth mentioning that when oceans warm, there is a greater amount of energy in these oceans, which could ultimately intensify tropical storm wind speeds and damage in the long-run. The 2020 hurricane season is unlike others in that there has never been as many hurricanes in a single season since 2008.

According to scientists at Leeds University, it is estimated that over 1 million species will go extinct by the year 2050. Chris Thomas, a professor of conservation biology, explains that the results are “terrifying." Much of the loss from climate change is already irreversible, but scientists claim that action now “could save many more from the same fate.” All it takes is a little bit of action right now, and we can alleviate so much time, energy, and problems further down the road.


For the last ever, the world has been trying to get politicians in on the loop, which to our shock is a lot harder than it seems. Our efforts, which included experimentations of different forms of enforcement, agreements, deals in the last few decades have remained fruitless and to no avail. The Paris Agreement of 2015 was supposed to make a change in Global carbon output, but it just wasn’t enough. Carbon emissions, unsurprisingly, have continued to skyrocket since then, and several have yet to ratify the agreement on their own terms—some of the bigger emitters being Turkey and Iran— and the U.S. even backed out of the agreement entirely. Companies, from a financial standpoint, would never dream of spending a penny to limit the Carbon output that their factories produced because there’s no incentive for them to do so.

There’s no incentive for most of the world to redirect even a penny of their own income, despite the undeniable truth that their very own world is burning before their eyes.

Sunglasses can only protect them for so long.

Pioneers of the Future

Thankfully, we have a number of companies that are dedicate to pioneering such change. One example is Lanzatech.

Lanzatech Company Logo

LanzaTech sees a future where a steel mill, for example, would make lightweight steel for parts of a plane, and then use production emissions to make fuel for that plane as well as chemicals to produce the synthetic fibers, plastics and rubbers needed for the body and cabin of the aircraft.

A company that is founded on the concept of a “circular economy,” Lanzatech is a carbon-capture company centered on three fundamental pillars—waste mitigation, resource efficiency, and value add through carbon reductions.

The company utilizes carbon-capture techniques to essentially extract pollution from the atmosphere, and convert that “pollution” into plastics and fuels which we use in our everyday lives. Like what

Through a two-step (oversimplified) process and with the help of bacterial microbes, Lanzatech is effectively able to turn carbon monoxide-containing gases into ethanol-based products (like fuels and chemicals)

  1. CO gases are extracted from the air, and microbial species—which feed off of carbon monoxide—convert the products into ethanol.
  2. Through chemical gasification—or dehydration, ethanol into ethylene—and fermentation—or polymerization, ethylene is converted into polyethylene—Lanzatech creates an end product which is quite ubiquitous throughout our daily lives.

That nail polish you’re wearing right now… it probably has polyethylene. That car you drove most certainly uses polyethylene. The wire that is charging your MacBook air right this very second was most certainly created by using polyethylene as a constituent. It’s literally everywhere.

Companies like Lanzatech are among those that are pioneering the future of combatting climate change. By essentially being able to recycle carbon infinitely and indefinitely, we can begin to transfer carbon into the circular economy, which saves an indefinite amount of time, energy, and resources. It’s companies like these that just might be able to save our planet in the long run.

Although the return on investment is low and companies may not be incentivized to adopt solutions like these in certain parts of the world from a financial standpoint, we need to start adopting these systems on a more global scale if we really aim to make a change in this world, if we care about this planet that we live in.

“We’ve got to get to net-zero. We’ve got to get carbon out of the air. We have to think differently if we want to make change in this world.”

— Jennifer Holmgren, CEO & co-Founder of Lanzatech

Next Steps

It’s for this reason that there’s only one way to go about the problem. Time and time again we have seen that politicians will never understand, that the work the people do won’t make a difference, and that the world is too dysfunctional to collaborate as a whole.

Someone else will figure it out,” they all say.

And it’s because of that, that nobody will.

It’s time to start taking matters into our own hands and to join forces to adopt solutions like these worldwide: Solutions like Lanzatech’s, which leverages technologies from varying disciplines to achieve an outcome like no other. Thinking big and thinking creatively, emerging technologies like no other and from all disciplines, putting matters into our own hands, are the three next steps that we need to take. And it’s with these steps, that we can truly make change.

Now put on your sunglasses and hat, because it’s time to save this planet.

Author’s Note:

For those that have made it this far, I really hope you enjoyed the article in its entirety. If you’re interested in learning about other cool content, don’t forget to give the article a clap or two and smash that follow button so you can catch more of my articles in the future 😉

If you have any questions, comments, disputes, or anything of the sort, do feel free to reach out to me either by email or LinkedIn.

My name is Oscar Petrov and I am a 16-year-old with leading interests in Neuroscience, Quantum Mechanics, Space Technologies, Philosophy, and the like. I’ll catch you later. 🐊



Oscar Petrov

A curious manifestation of billions of exploding neurons. I like to think about brains + the universe. Also passionate about ethics, philosophy + human rights.