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Different geo-engineering proposals are designed to use technology to redress any possible global warming

salt-sprayersI’m all for new ideas to be proposed to deal with any global warming in a technical way.  By that I mean that we continue living life as we want to, and engineer solutions to lower the footprint that activity has on the planet.  I’m not in favour of all going back to mediaeval poverty and travelling by horse and cart.  The geo-engineering ideas put forward come into several categories.

There is solar radiation management, achieved by increasing the reflectivity of clouds, or by reflectors installed in space to shield the Earth, or by stratospheric aerosols to put fine particles into the upper atmosphere.  One proposal is for a fleet of unmanned ships to spray salt water droplets up into the clouds.

Carbon dioxide removal can be achieved by planting large numbers of trees, or by locking carbon into the soil by burning biomass.  It can be done by sequestration, separating and storing CO2.  One intriguing idea is to seed the ocean with nutrients in increase marine vegetation to draw down CO2.  Ocean fertilization uses iron to stimulate phytoplankton growth and increase CO2 absorption.

Most environmentalist activists oppose all such geo-engineering methods.  They cite possible side effects, but their real reason is that they would allow people to continue their lifestyles instead of changing them to live as the environmentalists think they ought to live.  Some oppose even experiments to test the efficacy of geo-engineering proposals, not because of dangers posed by the tests, but in case they succeed and let governments off the hook of phasing out fossil fuels.

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2 Responses

  1. You have given some interesting observations and opinions about the status quo of global warming. I think you are slightly adrift concerning the locking of CO2/carbon back into the earth by burying the biomass waste although some carbon will be involved. The biomass fuel is considered environmentally friendly because the carbon content of biomass has already been absorbed from the atmosphere and when burned it is re-returned as CO2. The current World growth of timber/biomass is already absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere and the complete cycle will be maintained if the process is repeated ad infinitum. Most trees, even in this country, reach ‘ biomass maturity ‘ in about 30 years or even less and straw from grain crops are an annual event so the process is sustainable. Drax power station in Yorkshire was built to burn coal and is the second largest coal burning unit in the EU. It generates 7% of the UK’s electricity and it is currently converting to burn biomass exclusively. Incidentally, Drax generates as much energy as the proposed new nuclear power station which the Government has just announced. Food for thought !

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