"A timely book."
- Financial Times

Cleaning up excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is possible

Scientists, investors and other visionaries have been working on one approach, direct air capture, for over two decades.

The technology is now being deployed to help form a vital new industry tasked with removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Scrubbing the Sky explores the journeys of key individuals who have persevered in the face of many obstacles to provide us with this potentially invaluable climate intervention option — and the intractable challenges that remain.

What is Direct Air Capture?

“Humanity can't afford to have increasing amounts of excess carbon floating around in the environment, so we have to get it back out.”

Klaus Lackner, direct air capture pioneer

Direct air capture (DAC) is one option for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. By moving air through filters or chemical solutions, carbon dioxide can be extracted from air and then stored underground or in products.

“DAC is primed for public and private investments that are orders of magnitude greater than what we see today. Not only is the current generation of DAC technologies ready for deployment at the million-ton scale around the world, but there is an emerging set of DAC solutions at the demonstration stage with breakthrough potential.”

Carbon180, U.S. non-profit focused on carbon removal

SCRUBBING THE SKY is an in-depth look at the people and the science behind our attempts to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere with direct air capture. Drawing on interviews with stakeholders at the intersection of climate science, energy technology, and public policy, McKendrick’s investigation traces more than 20 years of the technology’s development, from Biosphere 2; to multimillion dollar promises from Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk; to the opening of Orca, the world’s largest commercial direct air capture facility, in Iceland in 2021.

Figuring prominently in this narrative is the genius of Klaus Lackner who, along with others, has fueled intense scientific and political debate, and spurred a value chain that spans finance, industry, technology, policy, and academia. 

McKendrick’s clear and riveting prose presents the full story of this fascinating pursuit for the first time, inviting readers to learn more about a critical climate intervention option.

The book will be available in bookstores on March 7, 2023 (February 7, 2023 in Canada). Digital copies of the book will be available on February 7, 2023.

Praise for the Book:

McKendrick's meticulous reporting captures the birthing pains of direct air capture technology—pulling carbon dioxide out of the air—which, as the climate crisis worsens, could ultimately become one of the world's most important industries.

Justin Gillis, former lead climate science reporter for The New York Times, co-author of The Big Fix: Seven Practical Steps to Save Our Planet

McKendrick's carefully researched dive into the hidden science of direct air capture reads like a fast-paced adventure story—one with enormous implications for all of us.

Alex Hutchinson, columnist for Outside and The Globe and Mail, author of Endure

In Scrubbing the Sky McKendrick tells a compelling story of the people and companies searching for the breakthrough that solves our biggest climate challenge. By connecting the dots from historical insights, McKendrick allows for failures and missteps, but leaves us with a sense of optimism that this seemingly impossible task may be within our reach.

Peter McAteer, author of Sustainability is the New Advantage

scrubbing the sky podcast - launching 2024

Podcast Trailer:  

Join Ed Whittingham as he takes listeners on an eight-part audio tour of the evolution of direct air capture’s use to scrub the sky of carbon dioxide.

With help from author Paul McKendrick, Ed explores the birth of this important new industry, drawing on interviews to tell the stories of the researchers, developers, CEOs, funders, and politicians behind it.

The Scrubbing the Sky podcast will launch in 2024, check back here for more details.

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Paul McKendrick is the best-selling author of The Bushman’s Lair. Prior to writing books, he worked in the energy sector as a partner in a firm dedicated to developing and financing renewable energy projects, in addition to stints in the electric utility sector, the oil and gas sector, and investment banking.

Ed Whittingham is a co-host of Energy vs. Climate, a leading podcast that explores the tradeoffs and realities of the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables. He is the former executive director of the Pembina Institute, a national think tank supporting Canada's clean energy transition, and has worked to advance climate and energy policy—including for carbon removal—for two decades. Ed is also a highly experienced public speaker, and his op-eds have been published in newspapers and magazines across Canada and internationally.