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What chances do humans have with geoengineering?

  • By Arnold Muthanga
  • June 3, 2021
  • 0 Comment

One shrill attribute among scientists is their ingrained audacity. From their earlier desire to fly to their current ambitions of extraterrestrial tourism. Science and its practitioners, the scientists, is a world defined by unimaginable imaginations that are brought to reality. It is they, the scientists, who warned us of the global ticking time bomb of climate change. Over time, the climate change debate has experienced a dynamic morphosis from political podiums into corporate round tables, finally crystallizing as sustainability. At present, there are over seventeen high-profile international summits that have been held centering around pathways to combat climate change. 

From a fair and sincere look of things, there have been major strands in both mitigating and adapting to the vagaries of climate change.  Collectively, nations conceded to the Paris Agreement’s request of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and are further committed towards a unanimous realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  More so, in the pursuit of “common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities”, there are global resource mobilization efforts, in particular, climate finance. As a result, there are several notable advances towards a sustainable global economy such increased share of renewable sources of energy, climate-smart agriculture, and sustainable supply chains. Despite the achievements, a section of environmental scientists argues that this rate of progress won’t keep the global temperatures from hitting a 20 Celsius increase and cut on the global greenhouse gas emissions to deter a feedback loop.  In response, they are calling for radical ideas that encapsulate the budding concept of geoengineering. 

Geoengineering is a large-scale project designed to redress the effects of climate change by either removing the amount of carbon dioxide in the air or by limiting (shading) the amount of sunlight reaching the earth’s surface. The former makes use of machines to suck CO2 out of the air, burning wood in power plants installed with carbon capture technology, converting charcoal into lock carbon and burying it in the soil, or transforming grasslands into carbon sinks through planned cattle grazing. The latter involves spraying sulphate aerosols into the stratosphere, creating above-ocean cloud cover by spraying seawater into the air, painting roofs white, or floating tiny mirrors between the earth and the sun to reflect sunlight to space.