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September 17, 2019

How will we counter the Climate Change?

By Khin Maung Myint

I hope, by now, most of the people are aware of the consequences of the climate change and also are more knowledgable of the causes of the climate change. Here, I don’t think I’ll sound overly exaggerating, if I say that the climate change problem is the most immediate, clear and present danger that requires to be solved. If this danger cannot be countered in time, it would be very devastating to the planet and all living things, especially the humankind.
In recent times, more and more governments and organizations are becoming concerned with the looming dangers of the climate change. Thus, they are earnestly endeavoring to get the climate change under control.
The most significant achievement was the consensus reached at the 21st session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21), held in France during November to December 2015. The agreements reached at that convention, which was signed by 195 nations, including the United States of America and the Peoples’ Republic of China, who were reluctant to sign before, duly came into force in 2016 at the COP22 convened in Marrakesh, Morocco. That agreement is popularly referred to as the Paris Agreement. That achievement was a milestone breakthrough in the fight against the climate change and was a very bright ray of hope for the future of our planet.
I’ll not be citing all the agreements that came into force, but only the relevant points for the purpose of this discussion. Generally speaking, the most important agreement was to maintain the temperature rise above the pre-industrial revolution at no more than 2° Celsius and if possible at around 1•5° Celsius. To achieve that goal, it was agreed that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions must be curtailed by substituting fossil fuels such as: coal, wood, diesels, petroleum and natural gas with green or renewable energies — solar, wind, hydro and geothermal energies. Last, but not least, is to grow more trees to serve as CO2 absorbers.
However, some scientists — climatologists, mathematicians and other professionals related to such matters had came up with bizarre ideas to counter the threats of the climate change. Their ideas are impractical and outlandish. They are just fantasies and are totally absurd that emerged from desperations in desperate times.

Quick fixes to keep global warming at bay
Spraying sulfur dioxide
Scientists looking for a quick fix to keep global warming at bay came up with some crazy ideas. One plan calls for spraying large amounts of sulfur dioxide into the upper atmosphere. The chemical would reflect the sun’s light, cooling the planet, which is more or less what happens when a volcano erupts, albeit on a much larger scale. The scientist who proposed this plan surely must have been inspired by the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines that briefly cooled the planet by around 1° F. Of course, this plan poses numerous diplomatic, scientific, technological and humanitarian challenges, and it is entirely possible that the effect on global weather patterns would be worse than climate change.
That hasn’t stopped researchers from dreaming up variations on this entirely outlandish theme. Here are three particularly impractical ideas that show why cutting pollution is almost certainly the easiest and safest way to cool down than rearranging the Earth’s climate.

Asteroid dust
Scottish scientists have proposed using asteroid dust to block the sun’s light. Their plan calls for pushing an asteroid to the point where the gravitational pull of the Earth and the gravitational pull of the Sun are felt in roughly equal measure. At this point, asteroids are not in danger of falling toward Earth or drifting off toward the Sun. Their plan would land a spacecraft on the rock. They would then deploy an electromagnetic catapult to hurl asteroid dust into space. A dust cloud would form around the asteroid, preventing a small portion of the Sun’s light from reaching Earth. This plan comes with many significant risks, including the possibility of accidentally sending a large asteroid careening toward Earth.

Solar shield
Another plan calls for assembling a giant, translucent glass disk at the same point in space where scientists proposed creating a dust cloud — the point where a celestial object is pulled equally toward the Sun and toward the Earth. The disk, which would cover an area roughly the size of India, would reflect some of the Sun’s rays away from the Earth.
Because assembling a giant disk in space would be virtually impossible, one astronomer proposed using trillions of two-foot, razor-thin disks instead. He says it would be feasible to send the disks into space on rockets launched by a set of electromagnetic catapults. Then, those rockets could use ion propulsion to reach the point where they could release the disks. According to the astronomer, that whole project could be developed and deployed in approximately 25 years at a cost of a few trillion dollars.

Plastic in the ocean
If spraying sulfur dioxide into the sky sounds dangerous and launching space mirrors sounds expensive, there is nothing to fret. Scientists have an idea that could work right here on Earth — cover the Arctic Ocean with bits of white plastic that will float on the surface of the water and reflect the Sun’s light back into space. White surfaces reflect more light than dark surfaces, which is why it feels better to wear a white shirt than a black shirt on a hot, sunny day. As temperatures creep up, the Arctic is losing white sea ice, which is making warming worse. White plastic might compensate for this loss, but it means covering the Arctic in non-biodegradable trash.
A variation on this idea calls for filling the ocean with “microbubbles.” White foam would perform the same function as sheets of ice or bits of plastic, reflecting sunlight back into the sky, thereby cooling the sea. Pumps might attach to dams, reservoirs or be fitted to ocean-bound cargo ships, which would froth as they chugged around the globe. It would take an enormous amount of energy to cover an ocean in tiny bubbles, and pumps would need to run constantly to maintain the foam.

The problem with hacking the climate
The challenge with each of these plans is that they only reduce the amount of sunlight absorbed by the Earth. They don’t confront the actual problem — a surplus of carbon dioxide, which is making the ocean more acidic in addition to trapping heat. Dimming the sun may cool the planet, but it will alter the climate in other ways, disrupting rainfall around the globe.
One scientist compared this idea to placing a lid over a pot while turning down the heat on the stove — the average heat of the pot will remain the same, but the amount of water that evaporates might change. The effect is more droughts and hurricanes across the planet. It does not matter whether scientists spray sulfur dioxide into the sky or make oceans more foamy. Changing the method only changes how many people are adversely affected, which would range from 25 to 65 percent of the global population, according to one analysis.
The only safe method for hacking the climate is to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by cleaning up more than a century of pollution from cars, trucks, planes, factories, and power plants. This would be difficult and costly, which is why every scientist working on this issue underscores the fact that blocking sunlight should only be seen as a last resort. The sunshade is no substitute for developing renewable energy, the only permanent solution. A similar massive level of technological innovation and financial investment could ensure that.
Thus, it is quite obvious that cooling down our planet is the only practical means as recommended by the Paris Agreement. However, even if countries overcome the political obstacles necessary to meet that aim, it would take a long time to achieve. In the meantime they can expect heat waves, drought, and storms unseen in the history of human civilization, and enough flooding to submerge many low-lying coastal areas and some low altitude ocean islands around the world.
The only quick fix that we can expect to cool the planet is for a ‘miracle’ to happen. That miracle is not impossible to happen or very long to wait. If the calculations of the Mathematicians are correct, plummeting temperatures could send the world into a ‘mini ice age’ in 2030 and could OVERRIDE global warming.
* Temperatures will start dropping in 2021, according to a mathematical model,
* This, they say, will lead to a phenomenon known as the ‘Maunder minimum’,
* This was previously known as a ‘mini ice age’ when it hit between 1646 and 1715.
However, that miracle wouldn’t be without adverse consequences. Some seas, rivers, streams, creeks and lakes could freeze up and would impose much inconveniences to the humankind as well as to other living things. It’s only natural that good things are sometimes accompanied by bad things, so, let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.

References:—
1. Scientists have some pretty outlandish ideas for cooling the planet down / Popular Science,
2. Plummeting temperatures could cause ‘mini ice age’ in 2030. Daily Mail online.
Photos : credit to the original posters

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