Climate change has been a big topic for a while now and it does not concern many people because they do not know what this means. Climate change is the heating of the earth’s atmosphere, which is also known as global warming caused by the build up of greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide, and methane in the atmosphere. This results in the heat radiating from the Earth and trapped in the atmosphere, leading to the rise in temperature. We should be concerned because it’s warming up the planet fast. We may ask why should we be concerned if it gets warmer? Can’t we just turn on the air conditioner to cool down?
But if the Earth continues to get warmer and warmer, soon it will be too hot to go outside, or to grow food to survive and all human life will die from the heat. The polar ice caps are also melting and is causing the sea levels to rise, is flooding many coastal areas around the world. The warming of the earth has led to more droughts, heat waves and hurricanes have intensified due to the change in climate. The earth is warming up faster than anytime that scientists have known through from their research of earth’s climate.
So what can we do?
We play a major part in causing global warming because of our daily routines such as driving cars that run on fossil fuel and burning of coal for energy, both of these release harmful carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Landfill sites and natural gas leaks release methane to the atmosphere and is four times as bad as carbon dioxide for global warming.
We can mitigate climate change with new innovative technology that can save us. One major necessity is electricity, which is generated from energy plants. The power plants burn fossil fuels to generate energy and release harmful carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. There are other ways that energy can be produced without harming the planet. One of them is nuclear power that can produce electricity without emitting carbon dioxide to the air. There has only been one company in Canada that created a nuclear fusion energy power plant called “General Fusion”. The company states that it does not produce any greenhouse gas emission and only emits helium, which does not harm the atmosphere. General Fusion also states that “Fusion energy is inherently safe, with zero possibility of a meltdown scenario and no long-lived waste, and there is enough fusion fuel to power the planet for hundreds of millions of years.” The reason why we are not building new nuclear power plants is because we cannot harness that energy in a truly safe and cost effective way.
The majority travel long distances by cars, busses and airplanes. The fuel used for all of these types of transportation releases carbon dioxide. There are cars that are now powered by electricity but they aren’t affordable as of yet, but hopefully they will be. According to the International Energy Association, the electric vehicle market is expected to account for 7% of global car sales by 2050. These electric power cars will need to have a more efficient battery and charging systems because, right now for some electric cars, it takes between 6-8 hours for a full charge. Filling up a tank with gas on any other car takes about 5 minutes and can last as long as the electric car, so we would need to come up with a more efficient battery and charging system for electric cars.
Since most of the energy that are generated release carbon dioxide, why not use that that harmful gas and convert it to energy. A Canadian startup called Carbon Engineering is doing just that, collecting the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and using it to produce fuel. They have stated “direct air capture can remove far more carbon dioxide per acre of land footprint than trees and plants” and their plant in Squamish, British Columbia removes one ton of carbon dioxide from the air each day. Some scientist are enhancing photosynthesis to allow plants to take in more carbon dioxide.
Since we have ways to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, we are still putting carbon back into the atmosphere. So to effectively remove all carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, we would need to stop releasing carbon dioxide. A climate and energy researcher at the University of Manchester in the U.K., Kevin Anderson argues “that to have any hope of restraining global warming to 2 degrees C, nations like the U.S., Japan, and Germany would have to eliminate CO2 emissions from electricity generation and transportation by 2035, and developing nations like China would need to reach maximum emissions by 2025 and then begin to decline” Those are the few major countries that have the biggest manufacturing industries and the manufacturing plants release a lot of carbon dioxide. It does not seem like we can eliminate the release of carbon dioxide because we used energy that requires the emission of carbon dioxide, such as electricity, heat and transportation for traveling and for the transport of goods. According to David Biello (2017) author of How Far Can Technology Go to Stave Off Climate Change?, “To change that economic reality would require either a price to be put on carbon dioxide, making it more expensive to emit, or mandates to reduce or eliminate carbon dioxide pollution — both of which highlight a need for the political will to take action”. If this were to happen many manufacturing business will be affected and will cost them a lot since they emit a lot of carbon dioxide to make goods. If that is the case then many products that we use will go up in price. A Harvard physicist, David Keith says “No amount of new technology will magically solve the climate problem or even help much,” so that means we will not take much action unless climate change becomes urgent.