Global warming is very high. Only if we can stop our planet from warming up, and in the near future, our endangered species are at greater risk. Obviously, we have developed a number of solutions to climate change in recent years but the reality is that our chances of tackling this problem are fast closing. It may come too soon to stop the movement of the halves and halves of large-scale firearms, namely geoengineering and terraformation.
Mu Breaking the Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet, Stockholm Resilience Center researchers Owen Gaffney and Johan Rockström travel with readers to the area facing natural disasters we now face, to explore the concept of “planetary control,” and in the words below, discuss what we can do if we can ‘Doing it doesn’t work.
Mentioned from Breaking the Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet reprinted with permission of DK, part of Penguin Random House LLC. Ownership © 2021 Owen Gaffney and Johan Rockström.
If all else fails, can we rehabilitate the world using modern technology? In the worst case scenario, protecting billions of people will take unprecedented technical skills. Geoengineering seeks to address climate change through the use of modern and radical methods. In fact, much of this is based on scientific deception. But many have now attracted the interest of scientists. By 2030, we need to know which bets are the best.
Geoengineering comes in two forms. The first step is to prevent the sun’s light from reaching the earth’s surface. The second is to emit greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. All of these are safe havens in dangerous situations.
There are several ways to block sunlight, starting from the surface. Establishing a high intensity light between the Earth and the sun is able to do this job effectively, by stopping about 2% of the heat coming from the sun. Numbers fulfilled. We need hundreds of thousands of meters (one square meter) weighing about 20 million tons (18 million tons). All in all, it could cost a few trillion dollars and last for about 50 years. But this does not help the acidification of the oceans, as carbon dioxide is still present in the atmosphere. If we continue to emit air, even if we block out the coming solar radiation, then the oceans will continue to increase – one of the leading causes of damage to archeology. In addition to low cost and sophisticated technology, high sunlight can have unintended consequences: for example, global climate change.
Perhaps the most talked about solution for geoengineering is the loss of millions of tiny particles in the atmosphere to reflect global warming. We know this works. Each explosion produces ashes on land. This affects the weather. After Mount Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines in 1991, the planet was only slightly stable for a few years after the first eruption, but this took a long time because tiny particles went into space after a few years. The size of this intervention should be significant: some 3.3 to 5.5 million tons (3 to 5 million tons of sulfur are released each year.
Cloud planting or cleaning is another option. Covering many lakes can throw salt into the atmosphere which helps to form clouds. More clouds reflect temporary heat and reclaim the earth. This concept can be used locally to protect mineral deposits, e.g. Globally, this could take a huge number of self-propelled spacecraft that sail the seas forever.
We can also paint our streets, roofs, and white cities to show the heat. In this region, this can cause cities and towns to cool down. The same goes for the cultivation of modified crops that can reflect heat from the sun, so that the cold spreads. There is a dangerous thread that transcends all these geoengineering ideas. Once we start we can’t stop. If we are forced to suspend geoengineering work for any reason – money is gone, political strife, unforeseen catastrophic consequences, for example – then global warming could come on suddenly.
Several ideas for carbon dioxide have also been described. The most important thing is to get carbon and store it. There are two main ways to do this: The first step is to emit carbon into the atmosphere using another machine. Second is growing and heating the plants to make them stronger. Burning emits carbon dioxide, but this requires drilling and depositing it somewhere safe, away from the atmosphere. The most common goal is to throw it in an oil tanker, under the sea, for proper storage. However, if we depend on plants to take in carbon, the amount that would be required would interfere with food production around the world, and we would be struggling to provide enough food for our growing population.
Eventually, some of these alternatives will be needed, even if the earth is severely depleted of carbon dioxide, because we are so close to unimaginable dangers. When geoengineering is necessary, we must prepare the smorgasbord, and carefully assess the risks. Capture and storage of carbon seems like the best approach: it is economically viable and it seems to be safe. Over the next decade, we need to start growing, so that we can be ready to absorb 5.5 to 11 billion carbon dioxide (5 to 10 billion) carbon dioxide. We will need this even if the world follows the Air Act. Beyond this, however, it is a science fiction novel.
Finally, researchers have devised a way to fix some parts of the Antarctic ice sheet. It can take up to 12,000 wind turbines to generate power, but large frozen turbines can be used to absorb seawater and turn snow to regenerate and protect the earth from several seas. Our analysis is that such ideas are, at the moment, interesting projects on paper and in the minds of intellectuals. While it shows the magnitude of the challenges we face, it may not be possible right now. Ten years from now, we may be repeating this idea. These are extremes that we are forced to consider.
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