The term ‘Geoengineering’ has been thrown here and there but what exactly does it mean? Geoengineering is synonymous with the act of manipulating the Earth’s climate to curb global warming. While it may sound like something that is right out of fantasy novels or pulp science fiction, it is indeed true. With the advances in scientific knowledge and technology by today’s standard, geoengineering has been deemed possible.
However, the concept of manipulating Earth’s natural cycle to curb the rising temperature of our planet which is a result of our own doing may seem ironic and even extreme. Well, of course, no man should ever alter the course of nature, but the idea of lowering the Earth’s temperature was first formed during the volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo. As a result of the eruption, 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide was released into the atmosphere. The sulfur aerosols then reflected 2.5% of the sunlight from the atmosphere back to space. This then lowered the Earth’s temperature by 1 degree Fahrenheit.
Geoengineering is not only limited to reflecting the sunlight back to space but it also involves lowering the CO2 in the atmosphere. There are various methods that are applied to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The use of ‘artificial trees’ is implemented, which in this case is nothing but plastic polymers. These ‘artificial trees’ does the job of absorbing the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which is found in ample quantity in the atmosphere!
The oceans can also be utilized to absorb the carbon dioxide. One thing the Earth was blessed with are the magnanimous bodies of water on the surface. Lime is added to the oceans which results in the absorption of carbon dioxide in large quantities.
Research is being conducted to implement geoengineering in large scales. But it is not without saying that; geoengineering has its darker sides as well. For instance, spraying aerosols in the atmosphere do reduce the Earth’s temperature but it also gives rise to droughts in that particular area as well. The use of artificial machines to absorb the excess carbon dioxide has no negative impacts. But the cost of manufacturing and operating the machines in large scale can only be done with large costs which at the end has the same face value as releasing carbon dioxide in the air.
Geoengineering has been faced and still faces huge criticisms from various groups of people as messing with nature can only result in dire consequences. And unless the experts and the scientists come up with better solutions or better if everyone on Earth becomes environmentally conscious, the only way is to administer the right doses of geoengineering.