Sci­en­tists to ex­plore ‘ rad­i­cal’ plans to re­pair the cli­mate and save the planet

The Scotsman - - NEWS DIGEST - By RYAN WILKIN­SON news­[email protected] scots­man. com

Re­freez­ing the po­lar ice caps and turn­ing vast ar­eas of the ocean into ‘ green’ zones are among rad­i­cal cli­mate so­lu­tions to be ex­plored by sci­en­tists in a bid to save the planet from cat­a­strophic cli­mate change.

The Univer­sity of Cambridge has launched a new re­search lab to ex­plore rad­i­cal ways of fix­ing the Earth’s cli­mate.

The Ce n t r e Fo r C l i mate Re­pair has been es­tab­lished in re­sponse to con­cerns that cur­rent ef­forts to tackle cli­mate change by re­duc­ing emis­sions will not be enough to halt or re­verse dam­age to the en­vi­ron­ment.

The project is be­ing co- or­di­nated by Sir David King, a for­mer chief sci­en­tific ad­viser to the gov­ern­ment, who warned that i t was vi­tal to ex­plore ev­ery pos­si­ble so­lu­tion as time “is no longer on our side”.

“What we con­tinue to do, what we do that is new and what we plan to do over the next ten to 12 years will de­ter­mine the fu­ture of hu­man­ity for the next 10,000,” he said.

The group will ex­plore geo­engi­neer­ing pro­pos­als once con­sid­ered po­ten­tially harm­ful, but now seen as per­haps the best chance to re­pair the cli­mate be­fore it reaches a tip­ping point – if sci­en­tists man­age to fig­ure out a way of im­ple­ment­ing them.

Th­ese i nclude re­freez­ing the Earth’s po­lar re­gions by spray­ing salt water high into the at­mos­phere to “whiten” clouds in the Arc­tic re­gion to re­flect heat back into space.

An­other pro­posal is “greening” ar­eas of the planet with veg­e­ta­tion, on s ea and on land, to re­move car­bon diox­ide from the air.

The op­tions for achiev­ing this in­clude fer­til­is­ing the sea with iron salts, which pro­mote the growth of plank­ton, al­though pre­vi­ous ex­peri ment s s u g g e s t e d s u c h a scheme would not take up suf­fi­cient CO2 to be worth­while and might dis­rupt the eco- sys­tem.

In Oc­to­ber the UN’S In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change ( IPCC) warned that changes on an un­prece­dented scale would be needed by so­ci­ety to keep global tem­per­a­tures from ris­ing more than 1.5C above pre- in­dus­trial lev­els.

The panel said coun­tries needed to cut car­bon emis­sions by 45 per cent by 2030 and to net zero by 2050, with steep cuts in other green­house gases such as meth­ane.

Dr Emily Shuck­burgh, who l e a ds t he Carb on Neu­tral Fu­tures Ini­tia­tive, said the ini­tia­tive’s mis­sion would be to “solve the cli­mate prob­lem”.

“It has to be and we can’t fail on it,” she said. “This re­ally is one of the most im­por­tant chal­lenges of our time.”

0 Re­freez­ing the po­lar ice caps by spray­ing salt water high into the at­mos­phere is one of the cli­mate change so­lu­tions to be ex­plored by sci­en­tists

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