During my research on climate change, I encountered a certain pattern that most of the writers, bloggers or activists follow – first there would be a shocking explanation about human impact on climate change, followed by a certain solution they claim will solve the entire issue if applied by Earth’s population. Now, I’m not arguing the accuracy of those ideas, but on the contrary, in my opinion we as humans need to join forces and implement not one, but several of those methods in order to reach the change that our Earth needs right now! Think about a simple diet one can follow, applying only a single method like a calorie intake limitation; or go to a gym every evening, nevertheless combining those two together will drastically change the speed of the visible effects. Same way combining several possible methods overtime can not only bring a change, but teach all of us a new approach to life. Following those methods, getting used to them over long period of time, and teaching following generations to follow them not only till the “visible” effects take place, but till our habits actually completely change is necessary. Our current habits were and still are harming nature and will eventually catch-up and make us face the consequences of greenhouse gas emissions.
In this blog I would like to reference back to the documentary by VICE news on HBO, “Engineering Earth” from September 11, 2018. In this documentary Shane Smith and Ben Anderson are following a lead on the search after a solution, to reverse the effects of human impact on climate change. Following their lead and not deviating from the conventional pattern, here’s some facts on climate change due to human impact: on average, according to NASA’s Cosmos “the increase in the mean temperature of the earth over the last 100 years is about 2°C”, which is considered a very rapid and destructive rate. Another 2°C increase over next 100 years not only can be disastrous and probably irreversible, but the temperature increase can accelerate even more, causing radical change in flora and fauna of the Earth. Shane Smith presents us with several methods that scientists, mostly physicists and engineers, work on in order to prevent the disaster, which can occur due to irresponsible use of fossil fuels. All the above bring us to the topic of Geoengineering, which according to Oxford University’s Geoengineering Program is “a deliberate large-scale intervention in the Earth’s natural systems to counteract climate change”. The general theory behind geoengineering is simple, there’s two basic ways to reduce the temperature increase: one is Albedo enhancement, which is to increase the reflectiveness of the earth’s surface and the clouds above it, in order to repel sun radiation and heat from the Earth’s surface; the second is to draw the Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and either store it, or reuse in various industries.
Among involved scientists working on the Albedo enhancement, there is a research team of Leslie A. Field PhD in the arctic researching the effects of covering ice with a reflective sand composed of a silica shell around a gas core, which they reference as a “reflecting send”, covering it with ice, in order to preserve arctic glaciers and add to the ice reflectiveness against the sun rays’ radiation. Another team that is involved in research towards increasing the Albedo enhancement, is a group of retired scientists and engineers under the lead of Armand Neukermans, exploring something called “marine cloud brightening”. It is a method which includes installing equipment on the sailing ships that will spray the salt sea water in the atmosphere, creating white patterns of artificial salt-clouds, that will repel sun rays and serve as a shield against radiation. An additional team that works on something similar, but far more dangerous is a team under the lead of Dr. Matthew Watson from University of Bristol, which collects data from above the volcanos, using drones equipped with sensors. The idea comes from the observation that sulfur dioxide (the ash emitted from the volcanoes) in state of aerosol reflects solar radiation, as happened around the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in June 1991, when the temperatures where decreased by a half degree. As mentioned before, this idea can be scary to many people and the effects of the particles bigger than the state of an aerosol can actually bring heating effect. Of course, more research is needed to the last method but “marine cloud brightening” can be already carry out today.