From growing forest area of the continent to call for rain, scientists began to propose, test and even implement large-scale geo-engineering projects to radically transform the planet. These projects are designed to solve problems such as the expansion of deserts, droughts, or excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere — and all for the sake of combating climate change. After all, if not us, then who? Nature will take its course and destroy us.
How dangerous geoengineering?
The impact of uncontrolled climate change is costing countries hundreds of billions of dollars per year because the frequency of extreme weather events is increasing, and productivity is reduced, apart from other consequences. All this leads to the need to introduce radical solutions. However, geo-engineering, in particular, faced significant resistance.
Opponents argue that people do not understand the complexity of global natural cycles, and attempt to change them will cause more problems than it would solve.
Large green wall
One of the projects that have already been implemented in some, was the creation of green walls on large areas of the planet. They consist of native vegetation and planted on the edge of deserts to stop desertification of the surrounding areas. The fact that the land on the edge of deserts already drought-prone and congested living communities, creating a vicious circle and makes them fight for survival. Green walls and the supporting conditions designed to rejuvenate the earth, making large parts of the planet more suitable for life.
The two biggest walls is a program of “Shelter in the three Northern forests” in China, the total length of 4500 km, aims to stop the spread of the Gobi desert, and the Great green wall of Africa with a length of 8000 km for reducing sugars.
The success of these walls depends on tracking long-term changes in vegetation, and for this purpose, scientists will rely on a decade of satellite imagery and algorithms supplemented by visual interpretation to image analysis. Collect Earth, a joint project of Google and the Department of agriculture of the UN, has created an interface with open source, which allows researchers to get access to all this data.
Blocking the sun
Last year scientists at Harvard conducted a test, which included the sending of trace quantities of aerosol is insufficient to exert any significant influence in Earth’s stratosphere, to a height of about 20 km, and the Aerosols contain sulfate compounds which can reflect incoming sunlight and reduce global temperatures.
In an article published in 2017 in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, States that the injection of aerosol in the atmosphere, in fact, simulates the ash plume from the eruption of the volcano. And as the ash plume is being introduced into the atmosphere, the aerosol spreads rapidly and affects large areas of the planet.
Scientists are also studying the possibility of launching a giant sunshade into space to control the amount of solar radiation that reaches the Earth. This idea has been afloat for decades, but only recently got the impetus to development.
For example, in 2018 Journal of Aerospace Technology and Management describes how to start the so-called HSS, or a Huge space shield. The plan is to put a thin, wide sheet of carbon fiber at the Lagrange point, which represents a relatively stable point in the gravitational magnet of the Earth, moon and Sun. This sheet will block only a small portion of solar radiation, however, this may not be enough to lower global temperatures below the limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius by the International panel on climate change.
Others want to block the sun, stimulating the formation of clouds in a process known as seeding clouds. In order for rain fell, the moisture in the air to condense, and therefore, temperature drops and condensation will require an interesting concept of nucleation (nucleation). In nature, water drops are formed around particles of dust, pollen, sea salt or even bacteria, but scientists have confirmed that compounds such as silver iodide or dry ice, may also work. The plan is to introduce these substances into the atmosphere above the drought-prone areas, thereby increasing the cloudiness and amount of precipitation.
The removal of CO2 from the atmosphere
Direct Air Capture (DAC) is a cocktail of chemicals, which are associated with CO2, but inert to the other gases. When the air passes through the machine the DAC, also known as artificial trees, CO2 sticks to the chemicals and again stands out with increasing energy, allowing it to capture, store and recycle or reuse it. The Swiss company Climeworks has built the only commercial plant designed to capture and resale of carbon dioxide. Her goal is to capture one percent of global carbon dioxide emissions by 2025.
The removal of CO2 from the atmosphere can be carried out by seeding the oceans are a major carbon sink on the planet, is responsible for removing approximately 30% of carbon dioxide. The best two ways to do this include iron and lime. Fertilizer with iron designed to stimulate the growth of phytoplankton, which sucks carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and helps to put it on the seabed.
In the Korean article published in 2018, the authors have considered experiments on the sowing of iron for the last 25 years, and came to the conclusion that this may be a viable solution. However, they admit that they need much more testing. The addition of lime will cause a reaction with the carbon dioxide already dissolved in the ocean and turn it into bicarbonate ions, thereby reducing the acidity of the oceans and making them susceptible to the absorption of greater quantities of carbon dioxide.
Cure worse than the disease?
Although these ideas seem promising, there are a number of potentially harmful consequences. In 2008, 191 countries have endorsed the UN ban on fertilization of the oceans due to fear of unknown side effects, such as changing the food chain or the creation of regions with low oxygen concentration. The state legislature of Rhode island passed a Law on geoengineering 2017, stating that “geo-engineering encompasses many technologies and methods associated with hazardous activities that may harm the health and safety of people, environment and economy of the state of Rhode island”.
Despite the resistance, some companies have lobbied governments to those allowed to work in geoengineers, and scientists continue to develop and experiment with new ideas. Some of the alleged benefits of such plans has been questioned. In a recently published article in the journal Nature argues that reducing the amount of solar radiation reaching the earth’s surface, a little will help stop the harmful effects of climate change on agricultural crops.
The only question is whether we know enough to do geoengineering? What if, for example, large scale planting of clouds will change the flow and will delay the monsoon season in Southeast Asia? Than it will threaten the rice crops? Or, if dumping tons ease in the ocean will destroy the fish population along the coast of Chile?
No one knows for sure what will be the consequences of such geoengineering projects — but it is also possible that they will become the solutions that we were looking for.
What do you think?