In October 2018, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), issued an alarming warning, that humanity has just twelve years to take action to avoid climate catastrophe.
But is it already too late? Is our predicament now almost beyond repair?
The obvious initiatives, such as energy conservation, adopting alternatives to fossil fuels and agreeing and then enforcing limits on carbon emmissions (which governments are notoriously bad at doing), may not now be enough on their own to make any appreciable difference to rising temperatures that are out of control. Some scientists and policymakers believe that more dramatic and immediate action is now necessary, that the planet itself will have to be hacked through a process known as geoengineering – deliberate large-scale intervention in the Earth’s natural systems – in order to counteract climate change.
There are many theories about how this could be done, though most as yet remain unrealised. A Swiss company Climeworks, is developing a solution that involves building giant fans that draw in air and bind carbon molecules into filters. At Harvard University, a team of scientists are hoping to mirror the cooling effects of volcano eruptions by using sulphur particles to disperse the sun’s rays. Other proposals include sprinkling iron filings into the seas to encourage carbon eating plankton, or sending armadas of ships to pump sea mist into the sky…
So could any of these work? Or should we instead be preparing for the now unavoidable consequences of climate change.
Reporter Eric Campbell went to find out.
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