Climate Engineering

January 6, 2015

st0105-03The notion of climate engineering, or geoengineering, was first created as a result of incorrigible damage done to the Earth’s environments: atmosphere, climate, and ecosystems.

Every year, record amounts of greenhouse gas emissions have warmed the atmosphere, causing arctic warming, wild weather, rising sea levels, and drought. According to Scientific American, “the world set another record in 2012, spewing some 31.6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, methane, hydrofluorocarbons, and other greenhouse gases into the air.”

Accordingly, leading climatologists agree that an increase in human activity greatly accelerated these consequences. In an effort to create man-made solutions to the seproblems, researchers and engineers have devised climate engineering – that has not been effectively tested – to prevent an environmental collapse.

Our climate is on a one-way road to calamity and we will soon be in dire need of pragmatic and creative solutions. The controversy lies here: will it rekindle our dwindling world or douse it with even more problems?

Climate engineering offers several benefits that are not yet conclusive; rather, the whole process is hypothetical and ideal. If these methods were successful, it would moderate climate change and thus reduce natural disasters and increase food production.

Cloud seeding increases rainfall and reflects sunlight, cooling the atmosphere; artificial trees remove carbon dioxide very effectively, removing the main cause of ocean acidification; and space sunshields reflects solar radiation.

However, these temporary solutions are too costly or unsafe and none have been properly tested.

Our “solutions” only temporarily skim the surface of a greater, more entrenched problem brewing underneath – human population growth. The root cause of all these environmental problems is directly associated with population growth, as it increases carbon emissions, perpetuates habitat destruction, and depletes natural resources.

There are also ethical concerns associated with climate engineering. If climate engineering were approved, alternative and natural solutions to climate change could perhaps be largely undermined for climate engineering is faster and easier than most conventional methods.

Many questions highlighting other concerns arise with the idea of climate engineering: who would employ climate engineering and how would we balance social and economic implications?

Every new process has its own set of consequences, but I believe that despite this myriad of corollaries, climate engineering is worth the trouble.


st0105-03-1 Joanna Paik
Beckman High School 11th Grade

One Comment

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