Climate change is real. We all know this very well. We are destroying our planet by realizing 1400 tons of CO2 daily. We are encountering many natural disasters daily life forest fires, extreme droughts, etc. Our daily habits and endless needs are responsible for all this. From our wearing habits to eating habits everything is contributing to climate change. But is there any way to eliminate this problem? So that we can stop climate change or at least mitigate these drastic effects of climate change. Many scientists believe we can stop climate change by a method called geoengineering. So, what actually is geoengineering? Can it really stop climate change or it will make it worse? Let’s understand this together.
What is Geoengineering?
Geoengineering is a process that involves the large-scale manipulation of an environmental process that earth’s climate, in an attempt to counteract the effects of global warming. In easy words, it’s a process of manipulating nature with the help of technology to limit the effect of climate change. According to many people, it’s just like to be the God of this world. By Manipulation I mean serious manipulation which can affect the climate on a broader term. Geoengineering can be beneficial and at the same time can be a human’s worst mistake.
How Geoengineering Techniques Can Combat Climate Change?
First of all, we need to understand why global warming is happening? We know that global warming is the phenomenon of increasing the global temperature of the world and greenhouse gases like CO2, CH4 which are responsible for it because they trap the heat of sun rays coming to the earth. This traping of sunlight is important because it keeps our earth warm at night. But due to an increase in the release of greenhouse gases earth’s global temperature is rising.
29% of the sun rays are reflected back by the shiny surfaces of the earth like glaciers or Ice maintains. But the remaining get trap in the atmosphere by greenhouse gases. So what if we block sunrays in reaching the surface? or what if we reflect back more sun rays? Geoengineering proposes a few methods to achieve these objectives.
We want solar radiation not to trap in the earth’s atmosphere and the best of doing this is to reflect back the radiations into space. This can be achieved by expanding the ice cover or by protecting current icy regions. We can achieve this by using artificial snow. Along with this, we can try the cool roof system, which is to color your roof in with reflecting colors such as white, green, etc. So that roofs can also reflect solar radiation, we can sprinkle artificial snow to make glaciers and ice more reflective. Recently, Scientists also have developed new paint which can reflect 95.5% of solar radiation.
2- Stratospheric Sulfate Aerosols
We know we can reflect back the solar radiation to space and it can create a difference. so, what if we stop solar radiation to reach the earth’s surface. Is it possible? Yes, it is possible. Here the interesting stuff is sulfur dioxide, a bad-smelling invisible gas, when mixes with water droplets, creates a shielding effect which reduces the sunlight to reach the ground by 1%. So, when there will be no solar radiation, then there will be no increase in global temperature. To achieve this, fleets of airplanes have to fly over the stratosphere and release these mixtures of gases. This mixture of gases will act as a blanket for the earth and minimize the sunlight to reach the earth’s surface.
3- Marine Cloud Brightening
The concept of all the methods of solar geoengineering is almost the same that is to keep sunlight away. Marine Cloud Brightening is the process of spraying saltwater over the cloud to make them reflective. So that cloud can also reflect the sunlight. The best part of this process is it can be released through cargo ships that are already scaling the oceans. But to achieve the desired result, trillions of microscopic salt particles have to release into the atmosphere. There is still research going on in this method.
4- Artificial carbon sink
We, humans, have released so much carbon into the atmosphere that it is now affecting our lives. How about an idea to utilize that carbon present in the atmosphere? The same concept applies here. There will be several carbon sinks in different locations in the world that will take the carbon into the atmosphere then the carbon will be reacted with water to develop synthetic fuel and pure fuel. In this way, we can reduce the net carbon emission to almost zero. This idea is still under the researching phase.
Disadvantages Of Geoengineering Techniques
Geoengineering is not an easy concept. The things we read so far theoretically sound good but in practice, they have many limitations.
1- Change in Ecosystems
Suppose we stop solar radiation to reach the ground then what will happen? We already know nature always tries to balance itself. So, we can encounter changes in the rainfall pattern and these changes can cause many natural disasters. Agriculture can be affected by this and it may destroy the whole vegetation of a particular area. Earth might counter-attack these changes in the form of floods drought or any other natural disaster.
2- Not So Cooling Effect
Not receiving a large amount of solar radiation can cool down the global temperature. But the problem lies behind this is way bigger because it can cool down the surface temperature but it is going to heat up the stratosphere. And this can cause many other adverse effects such as ozone layer depletion etc.
If we start releasing sulfur particles into the atmosphere we can’t terminate the process in a mid way. If we terminate the process in a mid way, it will lead to the rapid growth of global climate change. And this process will be so rapid that then only a few individuals will survive to see the new earth. And this earth will be no different than the earth we see in movies like mad max fury road etc.
4- More CO2
Geoengineering methods might cool down the earth but what will happen to the Concentration of CO2? If humans start to release more and more CO2 to the atmosphere then all CO2 will be absorbed by the ocean. And it will make ocean water acidic. It will disrupt the marine ecosystem. And it will have some consequences.
Is Geoengineering the only way?
I don’t say geoengineering is the only way but it’s the last thing we can do against climate change. If we ignore climate change, then yes geoengineering is the only way. Using geoengineering methods is like setting up a time bomb, that you have to diffuse or it will kill you. And let’s assume if somehow we manage to apply geoengineering methods then
Who is going to take responsibility for the adverse effects? Geoengineering methods are like acting gods, humans have to mold nature to lower the global temperature. We still have to research more about all these geoengineering methods. So, geoengineering is a horrible way that humanity might have to do.
Every second is passing, we are destroying forests. Millions of animals are killed every second releasing a high amount of methane into the atmosphere. We are going near to doomsday. But according to many scientists, Geoengineering is not a good option. We can try other methods but everyone has to take a stance in the fight against climate change. We have to stand up for earth and we all have to ask questions from our government about what they are doing for the climate? We already know the reasons for climate change. We all are responsible for climate change. We have to accept that yes climate change is because of us. We have to change our habits. If we failed in bringing change in us then the only way we have left is geoengineering.