Climate Change: Time For Some Slightly Mad Ideas?
By Stephen Leahy
Sep 28 (IPS) – Lack of governmental action on climate change is forcing scientists to consider radical climate geo-engineering schemes such as giant vertical pipes in the ocean and growing vast blooms of plankton to try and prevent the worst from happening.
Companies backing some of these schemes hope to profit from the rising public clamour for action and politicians desperate to avoid serious reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
“I wasn’t in favour of geo-engineering before, but we haven’t done well in reducing emissions,” said Chris Rapley, director of the Science Museum in London and former head of the British Antarctic Survey.
In fact, the global community continues on the “business as usual” path in terms of emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), thus increasing the chances of catastrophic climate change, Rapley, a climate change expert, told IPS.
“Just look at how incredibly quick the Arctic sea ice is melting,” he said.
This month, the Arctic sea ice shrank 20 percent more than the previous melt record set in 2005. Many scientists now believe that the Arctic region will melt completely during the summer months in a few decades — far sooner than previously estimated.
“The stakes are so high, we’re going to need extra tools to cope with climate change,” Rapley said.
Rapley and co-author James Lovelock published a paper on their geo-engineering “tool” — giant vertical pipes in the ocean — this week in the prestigious journal Nature.
The idea is to place a series of vertical pipes 10 metres in diameter and 200 metres long in the ocean so that wave motion would pump up water from 200 metres below the surface. This would encourage algae to bloom and push carbon dioxide back down, said Rapley.
He credits James Lovelock, an independent research scientist affiliated with the University of Oxford, with the original idea. Lovelock, who first proposed the Gaia Hypothesis that the Earth as a single highly complex organism, believes the climate change tipping point has been reached and drastic measures are needed to avoid the worst.
“We’re not sure that pipes will actually work but it looks like it would have low unintended consequences,” Rapley said, meaning that at least the scheme is unlikely to do more harm than good.
Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson has reportedly offered to fund research on the idea.
A company called Atmocean in Santa Fe New Mexico has already begun trials of a very similar technology in the past year, Rapley has since learned. The company says placing three-metre diameter pipes, two kilometres apart in 80 percent of the world’s oceans would sequester, or trap, two billion tonnes of carbon per year, according to the company’s website. Global emissions are currently 8 billion tons annually, up from 6 billion in 2000.
“That shows it’s not a completely mad idea,” said Rapley.
For full article please see Time For Some Slightly Mad Ideas?