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Article by Dr. Abu-Ghazaleh: Geoengineering – A Possible Solution for Climate Change

06-Nov-2022 | Source : AG-IP News | Visits : 1696
Article by Dr. Abu-Ghazaleh: Geoengineering – A Possible Solution for Climate Change

Special to AG-IP-News Agency 

Article by HE Dr. Talal Abu-Ghazaleh

The effects of climate change are causing serious damage to our environment and habitat across the world, with weather patterns being seriously affected. Just this year, we can see the devastating effects of climate change in countries around the world with crippling hurricanes, floods, droughts and wildfires; a situation set to get much worse in the future.

Over the previous years there have been many COP meetings held across the world, numerous calls from the present and previous UN Secretary Generals that we are heading for disaster, and a multitude of reports from the UN and other environmental agencies across the world that we simply cannot continue as we are. The problem is that very little has actually been done by the polluting industries to really deal with carbon emissions in a manner that really is making a difference.

The risks of carbon emissions were highlighted as early as 1965 to US President Lyndon Johnson by a team of experts warning of their effects in heating up the atmosphere. The experts initially suggested the possibility of altering the atmosphere to deal with carbon pollution but that had received little attention. This however is something that is certainly worth pursuing as all our other attempts are showing limited signs of success. Even if the developed world pulls back on its emission figures, developing nations are still very much reliant on fossil fuels as a cheap source of energy and likely to use it long into the future.

The world’s atmosphere has already absorbed a huge amount of greenhouse gases that have accumulated over time and are warming the planet. Therefore, even if carbon emissions are reduced, we cannot get away from the fact that extreme weather changes are here to stay. What we need is to use innovative methods that help suck the gases out of the atmosphere so that our choking planet can get rid of the toxins already present, cool down and breathe. Growing trees and decarbonizing our oceans so that they can absorb more carbon are great long term strategies, but we need something more immediate as such measures will take years to implement and show results. A more radical solution is required to deal with the emissions trapped in our atmosphere.

Geoengineering in the form of solar radiation management is an interesting concept that deserves more attention. A technique that has been extensively studied is to introduce sulphur particles into the atmosphere to reflect sunlight and cool the planet. While additional sulphur in the atmosphere brings its own problems, work by physicist David Keith highlighted in The New York Times in October 2021, shows that the benefits outweigh the risks of this cheap and fast acting solution. Any such implementation should come with a strict regime of monitoring to check on the adverse effects this could have such as oceanic acidification which can be reduced as needed. According to Keith, this technique known as Stratospheric Sulfate Injection (SSI) could be done using a manageable amount of sulphur and it will reflect enough light to cool the planet by one degree. While this may not seem much, it in climate terms is huge.

As well as SSI, I call for other technologies to be researched in greater depth such as albedo enhancement, which increases the reflectiveness of clouds or land so that more Sun is reflected into space, and the possibility of using reflectors in space to achieve the same result.

Some have said that such an approach would lead to industries abandoning carbon alternatives as there would be little incentive to invest in carbon neutral technologies. I say that they must be mandated to continue with their efforts while alternatives are explored and tested as any option involves tradeoffs. We must look at all technologies that can help us extract the carbon from our drowning atmosphere.

As well as these measures, we need to be investing more into longer term solutions such as afforestation, ambient air capture, ocean fertilization, enhanced weathering, ocean alkalinity enhancement and other techniques. By diversifying into many solutions, we can build a resilient world that can deal with future carbon challenges.

As the Chairman of the Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization (CSU) in New York and a longtime advocate of climate change issues, I say that we must look into geoengineering methods of tackling this issue as pledges and promises in international meetings are clearly not adequate to deal with a real threat to our existence.

Talal Abu-Ghazaleh


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