The UN conference on sustainable development, Rio+20, commences in less than a week from now, world leaders and power brokers will, in part, have the chance to put climate change to table and pass suggestions on how to fight it. That is priority. Climate change will not favor anything good, most decision makers understand but present-day situation isn’t letting a thorough fight.
Scientists recently alarmed
about the carbon dioxide, CO2
levels in the Arctic, signaling that a dangerous level of the gas is neared. Bad for all, but climate change is not the priority of any government, and those taking it more seriously are –- sort of –- discouraged by the laxity of others.
As things proceed slowly, towards recommended mitigation, scientists believe that climate engineering (or geoengineering) should be prepared — through studies, reports, policy framework and governance –- to come in at scale, if necessary, to deliver from the troubles of climate change.
There are a number of climate engineering technologies, all of which will interfere with the earth’s climate system. Some of the technologies are directed to improve the reflectivity of the earth’s atmosphere & surface, and others are directed to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, they are respectively categorized as Solar Radiation Management (SRM) and Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR).
Some of these technologies as expected will do their ‘good’ but are delicate because of how bad they may go when applied or unexpected reactions from the climate system to adjust. The technologies however, can be categorized by known climate engineering concerns, to find those with the most advantage, and prescribe okay.
Most of these technologies have dangerous bad sides, both known and unknown. Selling them for deployment to decision makers and the public, is a major concern for each of the technology. The climate science community is generally aware of the subject, and a number of savants from other branch of knowledge are also aware, but the gravity of the subject surpasses this small class.
Effort on the subject by this small class till date is applauded. There have been several meetings, studies after studies, research reports are climbing, media coverage is growing and knowledge is soaring. The mitigation goal is invested, in climate engineering discussions and the ‘moral hazard’ of climate engineering as a distraction to focus on mitigation is better debated against now.
This small class is courting more people to join the conversation, they are also taking meetings to new locations, but what will take climate engineering rungs up, is a major meeting or summit, involving people from several countries to sort out most arguments, to let this class sell their knowledge to the whole and resolve further on differing issues.
One body under the UN may support, but won’t look too pleasant in the eye of many, to arrange the meeting. The UN already coordinates climate change summits for mitigation; climate engineering beside may just be hypocrisy. The mega meeting may come up in 2013 or 2014, to make climate engineering find its level, to a treaty, to moratoriums, to tests, to separation of interests (individuals, corporations and governments), to governance and to policy framework.
Climate engineering for the past years is known to go its own way, from climate change mitigation and adaptation, and this will further continue into the future. There will be pockets of links, as with CDR & carbon sequestration, but as their objectives differ, so should it remain to avoid, a decision of this on that.
Hopes for testing and deployment for climate engineering keep growing. And the notion to immediately plug a procedure if faults are noticed is also growing. An SRM testing is likely
soon, and CDR procedures are being tested and prepared in the US and in a number of places too.
Some deserts in the sub-Saharan can be made more reflective to increase the earth’s albedo from the surface, cloud seeding procedure can be tested, like being deployed briefly, and be abandoned if turns bad. The former can be possible within this decade, but the latter require governance answers.
Climate engineering has since been initiated to allay global warming, but initiating new moves within the subject is also necessary. A major meeting; surface-based movable and pluggable-SRM deployment; climate engineering portals to refer the public for knowledge, both simple and complex; and carrying decision makers along are some of the steps that hence, should be initiated.
Climate engineering is considered as a solution to climate change mainly because of the possibility of rise in the average temperature of the earth in the face of wobbling advance to jointly mitigate greenhouse emissions, by nations. Climate engineering may never be deployed to fix, but initiating new moves within it may help quicken action and decision on mitigation.