The global fix and geoengineering

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  • Created by: Anoush
  • Created on: 06-02-16 21:26
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  • Geoengineering and the global fix
    • In Feb 2007, Sir Richard Branson and Al Gore launched the Virgin Earth Challenge Prize.
      • Offers a $25m reward for the best idea to remove at least 1bn tonnes of co2 from the Earth's atmosphere each year.
        • The prize encouraged people across the world to focus their minds on tackling one of the greatest challenges facing humanity
          • 'To encourage a viable technology'.
    • Technological development could be pivotal in tackling the issue of GW.
    • Technological solutions to GW
      • E.g. Giant sunshade for the Earth
        • Professor Roger Angel, an astronomer presented his idea of 'solar sunshade' in April 2006 and won funding by NASA research in July 2006.
          • The 'sunshade' would be made up of 16 trillion meter wide flat discs launched into space via 20m rockets to sit between earth and sun and reflect solar energy away from the earth.
            • The cost has been estimated at $4 trillion over 30 years (equivalent to double UK's annual GDP.
              • Sun shades could have disastorous regional effects, according to climate models. If they disrupted the monsoons, they could bring permanent famine to billions
                • Could change the circulation patterns and cycles that feed moisture to the Amazon, potentially turning it into a desert.
                • Some regional effects are inherently unpredictable.
                  • How will ecosystems respond? Never be 100% certain on any scheme.
                    • Highly risky. A sudden transition could be even more damaging than gradual GW, giving no time for people and wildlife to adapt.
      • E.g. Iron fertilisation of the oceans.
        • A Californian company Planktos, began testing in 2007.
          • Their ship, the Weatherbird II, dumped 5- tons of iron dust into the Pacific Ocean to fertilise the sea and encourage the growth of phytoplankton.
            • By pouring iron into the sea, large blooms of plankton could be encouraged to grow at a rapid rate.
              • Consuming and removing excess co2 from the atmosphere and taking it down into the Ocean as organic matter when P dies.
                • If done on a large enough scale, the process could remove enough co2 to reduce the impact of GW.
                  • The estimated cost is $100bn but i's the unknown cost to the Oceans  that has sparked the most debate among scientists.
      • E.g. An artificial volcano
        • 1991, Mt Pinatubo, Philippines, released huge amounts of sulphur into the atmosphere, enhancing the reflection of solar radiation ad cooling the earth by 0.5C for a year.
          • Paul Clutzen, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Germany used this event as inspiration.
            • Artificially release sulphur particles into the atmosphere to reflect radiation from the sun. Done using jet engines, balloons, large canons.
              • According to US NCAR, this method would require tens of thousands of tons of sulphur to be into the atmosphere each month- annual cost of $100m.
                • Could take as little as 5 years to reduce global temperatures to pre-1900 levels.
                  • Once operative, the system could never be shut down without causing immediate and sustained global temp. rises.
      • Scientists in UAE with heads in the clouds bring on rain
        • Planes fly repeatedly flew into clouds, firing flares loaded with particles of potassium chloride and sodium chloride, or table salt
          • The UAE gets less than 10mm of rain a year, and much of that is lost to evaporation.
            • With the Gulf facing an even hotter, drier future under climate change, the UAE aims to secure the country's water supply by ringing more moisture from the clouds.
              • In Jan 2016, the Gulf states launched an international research prize for weather modification, awarding a first tranche of $5m to researchers from Germany, Japan, UAE.
                • UAE is one of the worlds biggest per capita consumers of water
                  • The farmers rely on irrigation, abstracting so much groundwater that that the ground is sinking in some parts of the country.
                  • An expanding urban pop. with a taste for water parks, golf courses and lush green landscaping is rapidly draining groundwater reserves.
                    • Since the 1990's the UAE has invested heavily in weather modification working with NASA and private companies to boost rainfall.
                      • Country's record was 35% expected rainfall.
                        • Expensive but compared to desalinisation programmes, t's very cheap
                          • Their arid climate makes the UAE dependent on energy-intensive desalinisation- this isn't sustainable, nor desirable now
      • Carbon capture with 'Co2 scrubbers'
        • The idea of artificial trees is based on the simple premise of finding a man-made way of replicating a natural process.
          • In 2003, Dr Klaus Lackner, envisaged a synthetic tree that would do the job of a real tree, and act as a carbon sink.
            • He estimated that a single artificial tree could remove 90000 tonnes of co2 a year- 15000 cars' worth of emissions.
              • The carbon capture artificial tree- would capture co2 as the wind blew. A coating of limewater would be used on the slates to collect the Co2.
                • The limewater would form limestone that needs to be removed regularly
                  • 2008, Global Research Technologies with Dr Lackner began to build a prototype Co2 scrubber at $100000
                    • They've developed an 'ion exchange membrane' where the ion exchange resin will capture Co2 and clean air is pumped out.
                      • The ion exchange is washed with humid air which cleans off the Co2.
                        • Co2 can be extracted and buried/ used for greenhouses


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