Experts urge engineering solutions to cool the planet

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CLIMATE EXPERTS have urged scientists and engineers to find radical answers to global warning, suggesting they might even explore a way of refreezing the North and South Poles.

CLIMATE EXPERTS have urged scientists and engineers to find radical answers to global warning, suggesting they might even explore a way of refreezing the North and South Poles. 

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) called for engineering solutions that will ensure the earth doesn’t overheat, including “methods and technologies . . . to directly cool the planet”.

Under its proposed “research programme to advance safe climate science”, the panel says the time has come for scientific inquiry to “focus more strongly on understanding how the climate and earth system generally can transition to a non-dangerous climate state”.

As the impact and implications of the early stages of dangerous climate change intensify, there is likely to be considerable interest in a “safe climate approach”. Thus, “much valuable time can be gained if a ‘safe climate’ science programme is initiated now”.

Questions that such a programme might address include “what climate conditions are needed globally and regionally to block the melting [of ice] and refreeze the Himalyan ice fields, the Greenland ice sheet and the ice sheets of the Antarctic Peninsula and the West Antartic”?

The IPCC wants scientists to consider how could the North and South Poles be “cooled to end sea level rise”. They are also being asked to examine how the Arctic summer ice, which has been disappearing fast, can be “restored to avoid the mobilisation of the Arctic carbon stores and to prevent sea level rise by the melting of the Greenland ice sheet”. It notes that the size of the stores in the Arctic and Antarctic has been estimated to be at least 3,000 billion tonnes – or four times the total carbon concentration in the atmosphere from all sources, natural and human-generated.

Other issues to be considered under the research programme include how much excess CO2 “needs to be drawn out of the atmosphere to achieve a safe climate” and what would be the most ecologically sound ways of storing this climate-damaging gas.

“If efforts to bring the emissions of greenhouse gases to negligible levels and to draw excess CO2 out of the air cannot . . . maintain a continuously safe climate, what methods and technologies should be considered to directly cool the planet?” the IPCC asks.

Insisting that climate change is already happening, it says: “Arguably, from now on, if we do not restore the climate and atmosphere to a stable . . . condition, we face increasingly dangerous climate conditions and, in not too many decades, catastrophic climate change.”

(c) Irish Times

Last modified on Thursday, 12 March 2009 15:26

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