Nukes are more threats to this present world than global warming, this is seen from the attention, and commitments to preventing its deployment, by world leaders from the just concluded International Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul. The summit hosted leaders from more than 50 countries to keep the vision of a nuclear free world close.
World leaders again brought attention to the issue at this critical time when two nations, Iran and North Korea, are supposedly veering towards development and proliferation. Close friends of the nations, Russia and China, had their leaders present and voiced support against nuke development.
Nuclear energy can be used for several beneficial purposes, buts its ability for weaponization, and possibility of getting into the wrong hands makes it a critical issue in this present world. Nuclear energy is also very fragile and can cause harm to the environment as seen after the 2011 natural disasters in Japan.
Nations understand the fragility of nuclear energy, but it is seen as necessary for some, these times to deter potential regional enemies. Pakistan and India are also said to be pursing nuclear enrichment, while Chinese program in this area is not exactly clear.
Nuclear weapon is a challenge that has come to stay and the world, like America is doing, must find a way to lower its risks. Another challenge of similar magnitude is climate change, caused by global warming for growing accumulation of heat trapping gases in the troposphere.
Global warming is projected to harm the world in several ways in years to come and gases responsible for it are hard stuffs when it comes to cutting and capping, because of their reliance in keeping our present world going. Cutting and capping heat trapping emissions is the focus of the annual year-end meetings of nations on climate change but the dream is uncertain because of the ‘too far’ 2020 deadline.
As doubt mounts towards the target, scientists are suggesting ‘faster’ ways to cut excesses responsible for global warming. Geoengineering, or climate engineering, represent a set of processes to intentionally manipulate the earth climate system to prevent or remove excess responsible for global warming.
Geoengineering has been around for some years, and appears more meaningful of late because of the potential many see with it and the wobbling advance with reaching a deal by developed and developing nations to cut greenhouse emissions. Geoengineering is artificial, but some of its procedures mimic natural processes that have worked for the desired objective.
Geoengineering is either, Solar Radiation Management
, SRM or Carbon Dioxide Removal
, CDR. These processes can be space-based or ground based in relation to deployment. CDR is seen as safer and realistic, relative to SRM. SRM is mostly spaced based and are ‘complex projects’ that may be beyond control, too risky, to be sustained for a long time, and expensive.
Examples include spraying aerosols in the stratosphere to drop global temperature by a fraction, similar to Mount Pinatubo volcanic eruption in 1991. Roof whitening and putting giant mirrors in space, to reflect solar radiation back to space.
CDR is mostly ground based, examples are capturing carbon dioxide released from industrial processes and storing it at sea depths or at geological formations below ground level, ocean fertilization, weathering of sedimentary rocks and biochar. CDR is believed to be safer, sustainable and better, but its extensive impact on the reducing global warming makes SRM preferred.
Geoengineering has consequences some have been predicted while others are left in the category of unintended. Geoengineering is also believed to have the ability of weaponization, since a country can unilaterally pursue one of the space based procedure to fight an enemy.
Weaponization of geoengineering lead fears for many, with ‘good’ nuclear energy, still in contention for its bad abilities. Geoengineering has fewer risks for weaponization for at least two reasons (1) Deployment of geoengineering may never come until a deal to cut and cap emission by nations fail by 2020. This is enough time for more studies and broadened talks between nations. And military clamp down on a nuke-pursuing country may also come before then, which will caution those willing to go beyond the geoengineering bounds in future.
(2) For those in the military and on a war, with geoengineering and nuclear weapons, side-by-side, the latter will be preferred since the former can serve as a disadvantage even within their territory, and they know that the delicate earth climate system can go funny. ‘Geoengineering as a weapon of war’ may never come in the full scale of ‘geoengineering to counter global warming’ because of ‘better and trusted’ options that may aid battles like recce disruption, and some elements of weather modification.
Geoengineering in this nuclear and warming world is a good bite, and opposition to it for weaponization should go low, since the reasons above define other picks over it for ‘wars’ in future.