Climate manipulation: Extreme measures to save our planet?

Source: Rohan Chakravarty,
Source: Rohan Chakravarty,

With the ever rising temperature of our planet, that day is not far when we will be forced to keep it in control. Worse, we may even have to look at avenues to lower the temperature significantly. But is it as easy as it sounds?

This was the central theme of a report released by the National Research Council, USA on Tuesday the 10th of February. Alarmed by the rapid climatic change in the recent past, this scientific panel proposed a need for effective innovations to avert the threatening climatic catastrophe; in case the preventive measures fail.

“Let’s hope it never happens, but if we ever have our back against the wall, we will know ahead of time what we need to do,” said Marcia McNutt, the former head of the U.S. Geological Survey, who chaired the committee.

Prospective technology includes machines to absorb the greenhouse gases from the air, aerosol shots to reflect the sunlight back into the atmosphere, fertilizers to boost the growth of carbon-hungry plants in the ocean etc. But to the dismay of everyone, all these remedies come with a flipside. Some are ridiculously expensive while the others are hazardous.

“These are not solutions that we want to turn to,” added McNutt, who is currently editor in chief of Science magazine.

Fortunately, a ray of hope has risen with the recent development of a novel group of microcapsules by a team of scientists from Harvard University and Lawrence National Laboratory. These contain environmentally benign sodium carbonate solvent which can absorb CO2 from the green houses and power plants far more efficiently. And the best part is that they are cheaper and safer than the above proposed methods.

But, these microcapsules are not yet ready to be used on a mass scale in case the need arises. Hence, the question remains whether extensive research should be carried out for innovations that can tweak the climate in the safest possible way or not? If yes, what is the best approach that can lead us to the most effective solutions with least damage, both, to us and our beloved Mother Nature?

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The original paper can be accessed here.