Geo-engineering is a topic that has been tossed about, by numerous people, each with their own opinions, but what is geoengineering anyway?
Geo-Engineering: Humanity’s last hope?
Why do we always shy away from the word “Climate Change”, it’s a common topic in weather forecasts, it’s in our news feed, and we influence the climate daily, still, we always look the other way when are informed of the impacts and the outcomes, and this is simply because we are doing a terrible job sustaining our eco-system as a whole. Yes, we’ve passed laws, invested in technological innovations, and made national pledges regarding Climate change, but the fact is, climate change is a problem and there’s little we’re doing about it, and as such we’ve begun to seek alternative solutions to the problem it poses, and one of such solutions include Geo-engineering.
So… What exactly is Geoengineering?
Simply put, Geoengineering makes up the actions or schemes we put in place to tackle issues regarding climate change, on a much larger scale, Geoengineering refers to projects or activities that are implemented in a deliberate attempt to counteract climate change or impact the earth’s natural system. Various critics and scholars in the field of science have their views and opinions on this topic, with some seeing geoengineering as an opportunity to save mankind from the disastrous consequences of our actions, while others plainly describe it as an effort by scientists to create ideas that distract us from our goal of reducing carbon emissions. In this article, we’ll be looking at the major pros and cons of geoengineering and try to examine the need or irrelevance of geoengineering in our ecosystem, could geoengineering be the answer to mankind’s problem, or could it be the illusion we created to distract us from reality? without wasting much time let’s get into the topic.
How Does it work?
Firstly, we must keep in mind that there are two (2) fundamental categories that geoengineering schemes and projects are designed to realize, these categories are the aims of geoengineering as a scientific concept and they include; “carbon dioxide removal” (CDR) or “negative emission technologies”, and “solar geoengineering”. The names in the category appear self-explanatory, and frankly, they are, but they have a lot more significance and importance than the names insinuate, firstly, let’s understand “Carbon removal” as a category and what it entails.
“Carbon Dioxide Removal” as a concept
Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) or Negative emission technology implies the use of various methods and facilities to reduce or solve the problem of carbon emission produced on the earth mostly through the use of innovation, with the focus of the atmosphere trapping less heat, in other words, this involves the utilization of machines to “suck out” CO2 from the environment, implying the use of “Artificial trees” to respond to the problem, this comes in numerous forms, ranging from the use of plastic polymers to pull the gas from the atmosphere to burying large amounts of charcoal in the soil to trap carbon in the soil, to burning ridiculous quantities of wood in power plants that carbon capture technology or even going as far as adding large quantities of lime to the ocean with the sole intention of absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere.
On the surface, this concept doesn’t seem impractical, we have the technology available to do this, and so far, various companies have made this possible in one way or another, among them include; Global Thermostat, Carbon Engineering, and others that are striving to prove that carbon removal is feasible. With further development and some time, (CDR) companies might be worth billions in the market because of the invaluable potential it possesses in influencing climate change.
The Impression of Solar Geoengineering.
Solar geoengineering a. k. a. Solar radiation Management (SRM) is another category in Geo-engineering. In this category, the objective is to reduce or reflect the amount of sunlight reaching the surface back into outer space, in an attempt to cool the earth’s temperature. To do this, scientists have outlined two (2) main approaches to achieve that purpose, and they are, stratospheric aerosol injection or (SAI) for short and marine cloud brightening, also known as (MCB), now let’s break these approaches further, starting with (SAI).
A Breakdown of S.A.I
In a nutshell, Stratospheric Aerosol Injection or (SAI) involves injecting tiny reflective particles known as “aerosols” into the stratosphere to bounce or reflect radiation from the sun, using an aircraft. Well, this approach mimics the same after-effect of a large volcanic eruption within a geographic location. Volcanoes emit very tiny particles into the stratosphere, and these particles reflect sunlight and this leads to cooling of the area, for as long as they are in the stratosphere, this could be from a few months to a few years, the most recognized example of this, was the 1815 volcanic eruption of Mount Tambora, the effects of the eruption caused a volcanic winter that lasted months leading into the year 1816, hence that event was called “The year without a summer”, and they (SAI) approach, plans to mimic this same effects without its dreadful consequence.
M.C.B: All you need to know
Next, we can take a look at Marine cloud brightening, or (MCB), this second approach involves spraying sea salt into low marine clouds or troposphere using waterborne vessels, to increase their brightness and reflectivity, which in turn increases the cooling of a particular region. This approach might be the most plausible solution extended in solar geoengineering.
We must realize that the earth’s ecosystem is at a critical point and desperate measures will have to be put in place to solve this crisis regardless of the risks it entails. Geo-engineering is an interesting concept, and its one that will continually arouse curiosity and interest from various individuals irrespective of their field of expertise, but this concept proffers solutions to the problems of climate change, one that people have spent so long to find, and as such, this idea should be valued amongst experts and people alike, and such actions to appreciate this notion will be a crucial step to liberating mankind from the troubles of our previous actions, and with that said, Geoengineering could be mankind’s last hope regardless of how it’s perceived in the modern world.