Geoengineering ‘not a solution’ to sea-level rise
Scientists led by John Moore from Beijing Normal University, China, write that to combat global warming, people need to concentrate on sharply curbing greenhouse gas emissions and not rely too much on proposed geoengineering methods.
True, though I personally believe we need both, if only to take out the CO2 already in the atmosphere (as an aside, I found it interesting that this study was done by a university in China - they’ve now beaten the US as the world’s biggest polluter/emitter of CO2).
“Substituting geoengineering for greenhouse emission control would be to burden future generations with enormous risk,” said Svetlana Jevrejeva of the UK’s National Oceanography Centre, a co-author of the study… Dr Jevrejeva told BBC News that some proposals such as placing mirrors in space and spraying aerosols - microscopic particles - into the sky would only treat the symptoms, as greenhouse gases would remain in the Earth’s atmosphere.
“If you use a mirror, it’s extremely expensive and it’s an engineering challenge - you have to place mirrors [weighing] some 20 million tonnes into the Earth’s orbit,” Dr Jevrejeva explained.
There was also the chance these mirrors might break in orbit, the researcher added.
Not to even mention how many years of bad luck it would cause. /
Seriously, though, is there a geoengineering solution that could meaningfully remove CO2 from the atmosphere?
“We suggested that the most effective approach would be a combination of three different techniques for managing the carbon cycle,” said Dr Jevrejeva.
She explained that these scenarios relied on biological mechanisms to remove CO2 from the air and store it in biomass, soils or geological storage sites. For instance, afforestation, or adding forests to places where they have been cut down or never existed, would lower the amount of atmospheric CO2, but only by 45ppm (parts-per-million) - a lot less than the amount humans have already emitted.
Biochar would reduce the CO2 levels by even less - 35ppm.
Biofuel production would be more effective, and the combination of the three methods could eliminate up to 250ppm of CO2 and limit sea level rise to between 20 and 40cm.
This particular article doesn’t provide details on which biofuels act as a CO2 sponge, though algae-based greenfuel seems the most promising:
It can’t come soon enough. I’d much rather fuel up with literal pond scum than bankroll the figurative variety that rules Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Experts believe that an acre of algae may provide nearly 500 gallons of biofuel/year as compared to 70 gallons/year from an acre of soy or corn… Algae cultivation for fuel production is akin to killing two birds with one stone. The process of algae growth absorbs carbon dioxide from the environment and the processing of algae in turn leads to clean fuel.