Wednesday, 17 October 2012

COP 11 biological diversity: Some whacky ideas to tackle climate change through geoengineering

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Oct 15: Experts at the COP 11 here have come out with
whacky ideas to tackle climate change and global warming to protect
biological diversity on the earth. The ideas range from reflecting
back the sunlight into the outer space through mirrors to erection of
huge sunscreens to keep the earth cool and healthy.

Geo-engineering or deliberate tinkering of the earth’s atmosphere to
reduce the harmful impact of increasing temperatures has emerged as
the pet subject among experts, who could run their imaginations wild.
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has come out with a
report on proposed climate-related geo-engineering techniques.

Sunlight reflection methods or SRF is being touted as one of the
solutions to increasing global temperatures and management of solar
radiation. It aims to counteract warming and associated climatic
changes by reducing the incidence and subsequent absorption of
short-wave solar radiation, reflecting a small proportion of it back
into space.

“SRF is expected to rapidly have an effect once deployed at the
appropriate scale, and thus have the potential to reduce surface
global temperatures within a few months or years. It however would not
address the root cause of human-driven climate change arising from
increased greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere,” the CBD
report said.

Experts also suggested reducing the amount of solar energy reaching
the Earth by positioning sun-shields in space, injecting sulphates or
other types of particles into the upper atmosphere and increasing the
concentration of cloud-condensation over ocean areas to whiten clouds
to reflect back sunlight.

The CBD report also hinted at carbon dioxide removal (CDR) techniques
to remove CO2, a major greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere, allowing
outgoing long-wave (thermal infrared) radiation to escape more easily.
Another suggestion is to enrich nutrients in marine environments with
the intention of stimulating plant production, hence CO2 uptake from
the atmosphere and the deposition of carbon in the deep ocean.

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