If we can’t prevent air pollution from happening, why not install air cleaners instead? Trees are natural air scrubbers, taking in the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and giving off oxygen, so Klaus Lackner invented an artificial tree. It’s not very pretty, however. “It looks like a goal post with Venetian blinds,” he admits. But one synthetic tree can remove 90,000 tons of CO2 in a year?the emissions from 15,000 cars.

They can be planted anywhere. Every home could have one on the lawn to absorb the CO2 emitted by that family. Or large ones the size of a building could sit out in the open near highways or power plants. He thinks 250,000 synthetic trees worldwide will be enough to soak up the 22 billion tons of CO2 produced each year.

What changes are in store for us in Earth’s future climate?

The artificial trees don’t look as beautiful as the real ones in our illustration. To see a drawing of one click here.

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