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Geoengineering - Essay Example

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Name of of Professor 30 March 2011 Geoengineering, which is also called climate engineering, aims to deliberately manipulate the earth’s climate to reduce the effects of global warming from greenhouse gas emissions (Wikipedia). According to the National Academy of Sciences, geoengineering is defined as the “options that would involve large-scale engineering of the Earth’s environment in order to combat or counteract the effects of changes in atmospheric chemistry.” The surface of the earth becomes warm as it absorbs the sunlight…
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Download file to see previous pages Geoengineering technologies that aim to address this issue can be classified into three broad areas (ETC Group, 19-21): 1. Solar radiation management (SRM) technologies: These technologies aim to reduce the effects of greenhouse gases by increasing the radiation of sunlight back into space. Researchers and advocates have suggested various techniques like covering deserts with reflective sheets to deflect sunlight or blocking the sunlight with ‘space shades’. This technology is predicted to divert about 10% of sunlight away from the planet. Researchers have also suggested covering glaciers in the Arctic region with insulating material to reflect sunlight and prevent the melting of ice. Other techniques include painting roofs and road surfaces white so as to reflect the sunlight, using superfine reflective mesh of aluminum between the Earth and sun as ‘space mirrors’ and engineer large-scale changes in water movements in order to provoke cloud formation to reflect sunlight. These SRM technologies can however cause significant environmental damage, including releasing additional greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. ...
2. Carbon dioxide removal and sequestration: This technology aims to remove CO2 from the atmosphere after it has been released. It involves techniques like adding iron or nitrogen to ocean water to stimulate the growth of phytoplankton in an attempt to promote carbon sequestration in deep sea and developing carbon sucking machines to extract CO2 from the air in solid form so that it can be buried. Other techniques involve controlling the levels of atmospheric CO2 by spreading magnesium iron silicate on farmland or forestland and genetically engineering communities of synthetic microbes and algae to create new forms of carbon ‘sinks’. Implementation of these technologies that intervene in complex ecosystems can however cause unpredictable side effects. Again, the duration and safety of sequestration in land or sea are mostly unknown. Many of these techniques also require land/ocean use changes that can negatively affect the poor and marginalized people. 3. Weather modification: This technology does not address the causes or the mechanism of climate change, but aims only to alter its outcomes. This approach involves techniques like cloud seeding by using chemicals like silver iodide to precipitate rain or snow. This technique is already practiced on a large scale in the U.S. and China despite the skepticism about its effectiveness. Another technique attempts to prevent the formation of storms by redirecting or suppressing hurricanes. Since predicting the weather and proving the effectiveness of these interventions are difficult, these technologies may result in some unwelcome and unpredictable side effects. Attempts to produce rainfall in one location can be regarded as rainfall ‘theft’ by residents of another location, especially ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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