Geoengineering

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 28, 2022, 9:41

Recently, Geoengineering has been the most talked-about subject in town. Increased human activities worldwide have resulted in an overall increase in the temperature of Earth. This has resulted in global warming and climate change. According to reports, the average global temperature of our planet is increasing with the highest amounts of greenhouse gas emissions in history. Climate change is catastrophic for our planet. Some of them are the increasing temperatures, changing climate, increased natural disasters, melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and loss of species. These climate changes have severe effects on our lives in several ways. Scientists believe that Geoengineering can provide relief from climate change.

What is Geoengineering?

Geoengineering is also referred to as Earth or climate engineering. This field of science provides ways to directly tackle the effects of Earth's natural systems, which include the atmosphere, soil, and oceans, on a large scale. For example, climate change is caused by the greenhouse effect, which involves carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas build-up and trapping of the sun's heat, resulting in increased temperatures.

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Geoengineering Categories

The majority of efforts to reverting the effects of climate change through Geoengineering mainly focus on three broad categories.

  • Removal of Carbon Dioxide

This category of Geoengineering focuses on carbon dioxide removal from the air. Large-scale planting of trees is one crucial method that removes carbon dioxide from the air. Other efforts include the development of machines called artificial trees that are designed to remove carbon dioxide. These artificial trees are made of plastic resins that can directly capture carbon dioxide from the air.

Another Geoengineering scheme proposed by scientists includes burning wood waste and burying it in the soil in the form of Biochar (a kind of charcoal). This method can help in locking up a biological form of carbon. When mixed with poor quality soil, biochar showed an improvement in the quality and boosted the productivity of crops.

  • Solar Radiation Management (SRM)

The second Geoengineering scheme is solar radiation management by making efforts to limit the amount of sunlight that reaches our planet Earth and reflects it into space.

One of the proposed methods for limiting sunlight involves the injection of minute aerosols of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere. This method mimics the cooling effect caused by several volcanic eruptions. In addition, the technique will result in the process of global dimming as the sunlight is reflected in the space.

Another proposal is to deflect the sunlight from the surface of the land through the albedo effect, in which light surfaces reflect more than dark surfaces. This can be done from the land surface by painting all the roofs white or light-coloured or by planting light-coloured shrubs and grass.

  • Earth Radiation Management (ERM)

This Geoengineering category focuses on removing the existent radiation from Earth. Under this scheme, there are proposals for marine cloud brightening. Under this proposal, scientists would try to lighten the colour of the clouds by spraying them with seawater. The Australian government has started working on this method of cloud brightening for cooling the temperatures of the Great Barrier Reef.

China has been working on implementing one of the most extensive weather-modification programs to enhance the amount of rain artificially. Under this program, China wants to expand the cover of rain to 60 per cent by 2025.

Geoengineering Schemes

Several Geoengineering schemes have been proposed, out of which some have attracted a fair amount of criticism around them. Several opponents of Geoengineering have raised concerns about taking natural systems away from self-regulation. They have argued on manipulating natural systems, which could have an unknown social and environmental impact. However, with increased global warming, leaders are prompted to take quick actions to mitigate the problem. Amidst the schemes and proposals, it is crucial to understand that Geoengineering can be considered a magic trick for removing heightened carbon emissions. It is vital to gauge the effect of a Geoengineering proposal before implementation.

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FAQs on Geoengineering

Q.1. What is Geoengineering?

Geoengineering or earth engineering is the field of science that provides ways to directly tackle the effects of Earth's natural systems, which includes the atmosphere, soil, and oceans, on a large scale.

Q.2. What are the schemes proposed under Geoengineering?

Schemes proposed under Geoengineering include removal of CO2, solar radiation management, and earth radiation management.

Q.3. What is the Geoengineering scheme for solar radiation management?

Geoengineering scheme for solar radiation management by making efforts on limiting the amount of sunlight that reaches our planet Earth and reflects it into space.

Q.4. What are the concerns of the opponents of Geoengineering?

Opponents of Geoengineering have concerns about taking away the power of self-regulation from the natural systems and the consequences of manipulation of natural systems.