6 SEPTEMBER 2012 WWF BLOG
For folks who haven’t been following this conversation, geo-engineering is an umbrella term for a wide range of approaches to reversing some of the impacts of climate change, usually involving some kind of pro-active scientific intervention or manipulation of the environment. These approaches fall into two main camps – solar radiation management (shortened to SRM) and carbon dioxide management (shortened to CDM).
The other set of geo-engineering approaches are concerned with drawing carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and so are called ‘carbon dioxide management’ or CDM approaches.
These options include: dumping iron filings in the oceans to encourage phytoplankton and algae to grow and photosynthesise.
Sadly, in this imperfect world, the atmosphere has been interfered with since the industrial revolution. We’ve been digging up every bit of fossilised carbon fuel we can find and burning it, releasing its carbon back into the atmosphere.
So any approach that would allow us to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere without massive environmental side-effects would be extremely useful to know about, allowing us to add some ‘credits’ to the global carbon budget. This wouldn’t be enough to make a huge difference, and certainly it doesn’t offer an alternative to the global mitigation effort, but it might buy us a bit more time and compensate a little for some of our tardiness over the past few years.
So alongside our main efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through smarter use of sustainable energy and through reducing and reversing deforestation, WWF is cautiously supporting research into geo-engineering approaches in order to find out what is possible. Read more ….