If all else fails, there’s always geo-engineering

Researchers ponder science-fiction fixes for climate change


COPENHAGEN — If the world’s leaders can’t find an effective way to limit global warming, geo-engineering or artificially managing the climate may be considered as a way to cool the planet.

Additional action in the form of geo-engineering will be necessary unless future efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are more successful than they have been so far, says a recent Royal Society report on geo-engineering.

Its authors concluded geo-engineering technologies were technically possible and some could be “potentially useful.”

“The future of the Earth could rest on potentially dangerous and unproven geo-engineering technologies,” their report.

Absorbing heat or reflecting heat are the two main ways to use artificial means to lower temperatures.

Ideas for heat absorption include adding iron to the oceans so more plankton can grow and eat the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, or by seeding clouds with tiny particles to soak up and reflect heat.

Other ideas for reflecting heat include using huge, aerial sunshades, white-painted roofs white and reflective reflectors on the land to bounce sunlight back into the atmosphere.

But scientists from the Hadley Centre, the UK’s foremost climate change research centre, speaking at side event during the recent United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen, said they are concerned about the possible side effects of fiddling with the planet’s clouds, land and oceans.

Reflecting heat methods would only camouflage rising temperatures, which would later return in force, the scientists said.

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