- Apr 15, 2008
Preface: This post is really long! Sorry, it takes a while to explain everything I wanted to explain! Please post your opinion!
Ever since the beginning of the World people seem to have been heralding it's end. The newest end to the World is Global Warming. It brings a World with spiralling temperatures, rising sea levels and a lot of hot air (no pun intended).
However whenever their seems to be a problem that could potentially end the World, humanity have been able to fix it or the problem fixed itself or their never was a problem in the first place.
So why can't we solve climate change?
To try and solve the problem, let's first look at why Copenhagen, the latest conference to try and get a multilateral agreement to reduce carbon emissions failed. It couldn't be a lack of countries as 192 countries big and small came to solve the problem. It couldn't be a lack of time as they had weeks to solve the problem and let's be honest, most of the negotiations were done outside the conference behind closed doors.
The general consensus on what caused Copenhagen to fail, was either blaming the developing countries or the developed countries. The developing countries because they did not want to harm their growth by having to put in place costly measures to reduce CO2 emissions. Also they did not want to have to pay a lot of money for renewable energy (which at this point is quite expensive, at least more expensive then coal).
If the blame wasn't on the developing countries it was on the developed ones. The developed countries because it appears they came to the table offering little money to the developing countries so that they can adapt to using energy that does not emit as much CO2. Also because they came to the table offering little cuts to their emissions because doing that would harm their economy and lose jobs etc.
So based on this it appears that Copenhagen failed because of money (or, more aptly, the lack thereof) and also due to countries not wanting their economy to slow down due to them taking action on Global Warming. So the solution to Global Warming needs to be cheap, easy to implement, and not cause economies to falter.
Luckily the (albeit temporary) fix is in. And it's cheap, easy to implement and will not slow down developing economies.
An example of how geo-engineering can change our temperature is Mount Pinatubo. When Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991, it discharged more than 20 million tonnes of sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere. This acted like a layer of sunscreen reducing solar radiation on Earth. For the next two years as the haze was setting out the Earth (yes the whole Earth) cooled out by around 1 degree Fahrenheit, or .5 degrees Celsius. One volcanic eruption practically reversed the who warming of the previous 200 years.
By calculations by scientists putting 100,000 tons of sulphur dioxide in the stratosphere per year would reverse warming in the high Arctic and reduce much of it in the Northern Hemisphere. While this may sound like a lot but relatively speaking it is a very small amount. At least 200 million tons of sulphur dioxide go into the atmosphere (note, not the stratosphere) each year. So all that would be required is one-twentith of one percent of current sulphur emissions, simply relocated to a higher point in the sky. But how do we put it higher in the sky you ask? The answer: A very long hose. Or if you are feeling slightly more technical a stratospheric shield for climate stabilisation. Here's how it works. At a base station sulphur would be burned into sulphur dioxide and then liquefied. The hose, stretching from the base station to the stratosphere would be eighteen miles long but made out of extremely light materials. The diameter is only a couple of inches so it not some huge pipe. The hose would be suspended form a series of high strength, helium filled balloons fastened to the hose at 100 to 300 yard intervals. The liquefied sulphur dioxide would be sent skyward by a series of pumps affixed to the hose at 100 year intervals. These too would be very light at around 45 pounds each. At the end of the hose a cluster of nozzles would spritz the stratosphere with a fine mist of colourless sulphur dioxide (so no the sky would not change colour). Thanks to stratospheric winds at around 100 miles per hour the spritz would wrap the earth in around ten days time. Also this is obviously not my idea, this is done by Intellectual Ventures (http://www.intellectualventures.com/) and I rewrote this paragraph from SuperFreakonomics (it's a really good book. Buy it!)
If we used geo-engineering technologies we could effectively off-put the climate changes for at least 300 - 400 years. 300 - 400 years later the current solutions will be much cheaper and much more efficient (allowing more energy to be produced in a shorter amount of time). To look at how much technology can grow in 400 years look back to 1610 and see how different the technology is then to now. I submit that geo-engineering is a temporary solution as it would be fool-hardy to continue emitting so much CO2 into our atmosphere, however as of now there are no other solutions that are economically viable and that all countries will agree to, so geo-engineering is the best solution.
King Mook Mook