Could a technological fix save the planet from climate change?

Asia's Tech News Daily

Pessimism is growing about humanity’s ability to save the planet as world leaders prepare to convene for climate change talks at the COP26 summit in Glasgow on October 31. Faced with increasingly apocalyptic projections, some scientists are calling for plans to cool the planet with geoengineering. But is this a realistic path out of the nightmare?

UN climate experts were unanimous in their latest report published in August: Unless we keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, the earth will be racked by heatwaves, cyclones and storms, entire species will be wiped out, and large swathes of humanity will have to leave their homes when coastal settlements go underwater.

As despair growths about humanity’s ability to avoid this fateful threshold, researchers are looking at geoengineering as a potential means of reversing the damage.

“Geoengineering is a way of using various technological tools to cancel out the environmental effects of human actions,” explained Sofia Kabbej, a researcher in the Climate, Energy and Security Programme at France’s Institute of International and Strategic Relations.

Sci-fi or reality?

A range of ideas come under the umbrella of climate geoengineering. Some seem totally fanciful, even dangerous. But other technologies are already operational.

“There are two categories of geoengineering,” said Roland Séférian, a climatologist at France’s Meteorological Office.

The first – and most controversial – involves ways of “modifying solar radiation”, Séférian noted. One such idea is to “reproduce what happens during volcanic eruptions when clouds of dust emerge in the sky and form a kind of screen between the sun and the earth, cooling the atmosphere in the process”.

As things stand, this is still just an idea scientists are thinking about. But for several years a team of researchers at Harvard University led by scientist David Keith have been planning to test it in real conditions. In 2021, this team intended to launch two balloons into the stratosphere in Sweden and release several kilos of calcium carbonate. However, vociferous opposition from locals and numerous NGOs put an end to this project.

Another technique is to “whiten” cloud formations by spraying salt into the atmosphere to reflect more of the sun’s rays – and consequently heat – thereby limiting the warming of the oceans.

An experiment was carried out on a small scale in Australia in 2020. But research into this technology is still in its infancy. Dozens of similar plans have been suggested – some rather eccentric and of dubious plausibility – including putting mirrors in space and even modifying the earth’s trajectory.

Carbon capture

The second category of geoengineering consists of projects to take CO2 out of the atmosphere. “Some potential means of doing this have already been widely explored,” Séférian pointed out. Myriad techniques are being considered, from using natural carbon sinks such as forests or oceans to installing carbon vacuum cleaners in various places to even putting filters on factories.

“One approach we’re already using a lot in trying to address climate change is planting trees to capture CO2,” Séférian continued.

Outside of that natural means of capturing carbon, two technologies were mentioned in the IPCC report as potential methods of taking CO2 out of the atmosphere.

The first is called direct air capture (DCA), which involves installing kinds of vacuum cleaners to suck CO2 out of the air. The carbon is then buried underground. Some 20 such projects are already in place across the globe, according to the International Energy Agency. Swiss company Climeworks, for example, attached carbon suction machines to a waste incineration plant in the Zurich region.

The second such technology is called bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). This means producing energy by burning biomass – such as wood and agricultural waste – trapping the resultant CO2 and burying it underground.

So far, neither technology has proven its worth. DCA looks inefficient, requiring a lot of energy to work. Meanwhile, there may not be enough arable land for planting forests or using BECCS to make a significant difference in tackling climate change.

The chimera of a quick fix?

But these geoengineering technologies worry many environmentalists. They fear that focusing on a technological fix will distract attention from the urgent task of drastically reducing CO2 emissions.

“Affecting how the sun’s rays reach earth would amount to giving humans quasi-divine status,” Kabbei said. “And there’s something quite problematic about that.”

Some on the political left especially may also be concerned that oil companies stand to profit handsomely from it. “It’s a huge financial opportunity for them,” Kabbei put it. “Carbon capture can only happen through the transport of CO2 – which requires pipelines and storage space; the kind of infrastructure oil companies have.”

A further problem for some critics is that geoengineering is something only countries in the global developed countries can afford to do – while the worst effects of climate change will likely be endured by underdeveloped countries.

And with geoengineering technologies still at an embryonic stage, scientists do not know what unintended consequences they might create.

“Even with the best scientific models, it’s hard to see exactly what would happen if people tried to absorb or bounce back solar radiation,” Séférian said. “CO2 capture and storage also raises questions: What would happen if the carbon leaks during transport? How long could it stay buried?”

Despite these concerns, given the way things are going “we can’t be 100 percent sure we’ll never need this technology”, said Olivier Boucher, an expert on geoengineering technology at the CNRS research institute in Paris. “Maybe we’ll find out that these ideas don’t work out in practice – but in any case it’d be a waste to deprive future generations of our work on these possibilities.”

“Anything to do with modifying solar radiation should be seen as a last resort,” Boucher continued. “But – in my opinion – CO2 capture and storage techniques really could become tools to help combat global warming.”

Séférian agreed: “It’s pretty likely that we’ll have to use CO2 capture technology in order to achieve carbon neutrality,” he said. “And the more we fall short with our current policies to tackle climate change, the more it will become inevitable – even though, in an ideal world, we shouldn’t need to use it.”

In any case, the research is continuing – although there is no international framework to regulate it.

An international convention prohibiting the use of “environmental modification techniques” for military purposes was adopted in 1976 – but its scope is limited. States and private actors can thus develop their own projects as they see fit.

“Right now it’s early days for geoengineering, but it’s definitely going to become a lot more salient within the next few years,” Kabbej said. “So countries are going to have to start talks to agree on how it should be done.”

“There’s got to be a public debate,” Séférian added. However, it is not on the official agenda for COP26. “It’s certainly something that we should be talking about, but it’s not a priority at these stage. The important thing is reducing CO2 emissions. Geoengineering comes later.”

This article was adapted from the original in French.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Cyber Monday camera deals 2021: Picks from Sony, Nikon and more

Cyber Monday camera deals have finally arrived, with plenty of discounts on beginner models and top-tier professional units too. The most impressive price drop we’ve seen is the $200 discount ... Read more »

Hey, Trainers! These early Cyber Monday Pokémon deals are a real catch

If you’ve got a penchant for everything Pokémon, we’ve spotted some brilliant early Pokémon deals that are worth shining a spotlight on as the Cyber Monday deals approach. With Black ... Read more »

Cyber Monday gaming laptop deals 2021 - all the sales live now

Cyber Monday gaming laptop deals are set to take over from this year’s Black Friday gaming laptop deals, offering up some stunning prices on everything from budget GTX 1650 rigs ... Read more »

Covid: Boris Johnson announces mandatory mask wearing and restrictions on travellers amid Omicron variant

(Getty Images) Boris Johnson has announced the reintroduction of masks in indoor spaces and some travel restrictions amid the arrival of the Omicron variant in the UK. The prime minister ... Read more »

Google makes pledges on browser cookies to appease UK regulator

Google has pledged more restrictions on its use of data from its Chrome browser to address concerns raised by Britain’s competition regulator about its plan to ban third-party cookies that ... Read more »

Cyber Monday Dell live blog: the best XPS 13, Alienware and Inspiron deals

Refresh 2021-11-27T18:43:24.147Z Looking for a gaming laptop? Dell’s got you covered as well, with a range of brilliant laptops, including some from its premium Alienware brand. Take this amazing deal, ... Read more »

This 4TB Sabrent SSD is cheaper than ever, but you still won't be able to afford it

One of the world’s fastest and most capacious SSDs is available right now at a whopping 25% discount as part of Amazon’s Cyber Monday sales, but you probably still won’t ... Read more »

Black Friday gaming laptop deals 2021 - all the best live sales still live

Black Friday gaming laptop deals are still lining the shelves, so if you missed out on yesterday’s sales there are still plenty of discounts to be found. We’re rounding up ... Read more »

Be quick, these Adobe Creative Cloud Black Friday deals of up to 39% are ending soon

While Adobe brought out its Black Friday deals on Creative Cloud, saving a big 40% on yearly plans, the deals are ending today at 0:00 USA globally. (Not in the ... Read more »

Police arrest at least 30 Extinction Rebellion activists over Amazon warehouse blockades

Police officers are pictured beside an Extinction Rebellion (XR) protest outside an Amazon warehouse in Tilbury, Essex, on 26 November, 2021. (AFP via Getty Images) At least 30 Extinction Rebellion ... Read more »

Cyber Weekend's best laptop deals, from $109: Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and more!

We may receive commission from purchases made via links on this page. Pricing and availability are subject to change. Ready for a next-level laptop? Take advantage of these unreal Cyber ... Read more »

Cyber Monday GPU deals 2021 - early sales and what to look out for

It’s time to begin turning your attention to the best Cyber Monday graphics card deals, now that the big day is coming into view. That’s not to say you should ... Read more »

Score Black Friday golf deals at Dick's Sporting Goods, Callaway, Academy Sports and more

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. Hunting for lingering, but still impressive Black Friday golf deals? We’re ... Read more »

Fable 4 trailer, Xbox Game Pass news and everything we know so far

Fable 4 – known officially as just Fable at the moment – is undoubtedly one of the most highly-anticipated Xbox exclusives there is. The game was announced in 2020 after ... Read more »

Kate Spade Black Friday isn't over yet—save big on purses at Kate Spade Surprise

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. If you’re still hunting for a beautiful new bag to add ... Read more »

Black Friday deals are still going, save $50 on Apple's noise-canceling Beats Studio Buds

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. If you want a light and comfy pair of earbuds that ... Read more »

Alexandra Morgan: Two men arrested on suspicion of murder after mother-of-two disappears

Detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate investigating the disappearance of a woman from Sissinghurst (Kent Police) Two men have been arrested on suspicion of murder after a ... Read more »

Hurry, this cheap electric standing desk is selling fast at Amazon for Cyber Monday

Right now, you can save $100 off the Harmati electric adjustable height standing desk at Amazon. That brings its price down to just $199.99, making it one of the cheapest ... Read more »

Best-in-class gaming mouse drops to lowest price in surprise Cyber Monday deal

If you’re serious about your gaming mice, then you can’t do much better than the Razer DeathAdder V2 Pro. Especially now Amazon has knocked it down to an unprecedented $69.99 ... Read more »

The Brand New Amazon Fire Tablet Is on Sale for the First Time Ever, and It's Half Off

amazon tablet Amazon When you think about buying a tablet, you probably envision the high price tags that often come along with tech purchases, and you might hesitate to make ... Read more »

Put your worries to bed with this weighted blanket Cyber Monday deal

After a weighted blanket ahead of Cyber Monday? You’re not the only one – countless people have found that a weighted blanket can reduce stress and help them get to ... Read more »

Cyber Monday Roomba deals 2021: today's biggest savings

Cyber Monday Roomba deals 2021: Jump to… (Image credit: TechRadar / iRobot) US: Best Cyber Monday Roomba deals – Roomba robot vacuums $100-$399 – Roomba robot vacuums $400+ UK: Best ... Read more »

Leinster vs Ulster live stream: how to watch 2021 United Rugby Championship from anywhere

November has been a real feel-good month for Irish rugby, and it closes with a top-of-the-table interprovincial clash between Leinster and Ulster – a meeting of rampant rivals that promises ... Read more »

PS5 and Xbox Series X restock announced for Cyber Monday at Walmart

Walmart has announced it will be holding a PS5 and Xbox Series X restock on Cyber Monday – but once again, you will need to be a Walmart+ member to ... Read more »

Make your old car a smart car for just $15 with this hugely popular Cyber Monday deal

If your current car doesn’t lacks smart features like a built-in voice assistant, you can change that for just $15. Amazon has a whole host of Cyber Monday deals already ... Read more »

Princess Anne wows in glittering dress and unexpected jewel

Princess Anne put in a glamorous appearance at the Team GB ball on Thursday evening, celebrating British athletes' success at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. MORE: Princess Anne's secret cooking skill ... Read more »

Richard Madeley: The truth about my ‘funny turn' on I'm A Celebrity

Richard Madeley had to leave I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! this week – ITV/Shutterstock For the last 19 years, I’ve watched I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out ... Read more »

Covid news - live: Boris Johnson to announce ‘further measures' as UK finds first two cases of Omicron variant

Boris Johnson is expected to announce “further measures” in a coronavirus press briefing at 5pm, after the UK detected its first two cases of the new Omicron Covid variant. The ... Read more »

Ted Cruz and Donald Trump Jr. taunt the WHO for skipping 'Xi' to name the new coronavirus variant 'Omicron'

Texas Senator Ted Cruz (L), Donald Trump Jr. (R).Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images (L), Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images (R) The WHO skipped two letters of the Greek alphabet to name the new coronavirus ... Read more »

Black Friday gaming PC deals 2021: the best offers still available now

Some Black Friday gaming PC deals have lasted longer than the day itself, meaning you can still get yourself one of the best gaming PCs at incredibly aggressive prices even ... Read more »

The best Cyber Monday laptop deal is the Dell XPS 13 for just $649 - and it's live right now

This Dell XPS 13 for just $649.99 (was $949.99) is an incredible offer and might just be the best Cyber Monday deals we’ll see – even though the day itself ... Read more »

The Best Buy Cyber Monday sale is live: here are the 19 best deals you need to see

The Best Buy Cyber Monday sale is up and running, which means you can score epic deals before anyone else on everything from TVs, laptops, and headphones to vacuums, air ... Read more »

Apple Watch SE is almost $60 off again in early Cyber Monday deal

Just before Black Friday, we saw a pretty decent discount on the Apple Watch SE which brought it down from $280 to $220, which was a bit better than the ... Read more »

The best Michael Kors Black Friday deals you can still find on purses, handbags and wallets

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. Whether you’re looking to coordinate your style from head to toe ... Read more »

The James Webb space telescope: in search of the secrets of the Milky Way

Photograph: Dotted Zebra/Alamy Billions of dollars over budget and years late, the most expensive, complex telescope to be sent into space will launch next month. What will it learn? In ... Read more »

Notorious Pegasus spyware faces its day of reckoning

Photograph: Amir Levy/Getty Images The infamous hacking tool is now at the centre of international lawsuits thanks to a courageous research lab If you were compiling a list of the ... Read more »

Best Black Friday laptop deals 2021: Offers on Microsoft, HP, Apple Macbooks and more

(Black Friday) When it comes to bagging a serious bargain, there’s really no better time than Black Friday. The annual sales event is one of the biggest days in the ... Read more »

COPY OF 15 Bose Black Friday deals not to miss — save up to $100

We may receive commission from purchases made via links on this page. Pricing and availability are subject to change. It’s a Bose bonanza! Score speakers, headphones, earbuds and more at ... Read more »

Quick! Get Hulu for just 99 cents a month in this unbeatable Cyber Monday offer

Want to try Hulu? Then you can’t ask for better than this Cyber Monday deal, which lets you stream the ad-supported version for just 99 cents per month: a massive ... Read more »

Shop the best REI Cyber Monday sales on outdoor gear, clothes and more

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. Looking for the perfect holiday gift for the outdoor enthusiast in ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic