Climate Engineering, also known as geoengineering, is a field of engineering that aims towards fighting climate change. The ultimate goal of climate engineering is to reverse the impact of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, and solar radiation, mainly. Up to this point, climate engineering remains hypothetical, yet research aims at environmental engineering, trying to manipulate the global climate.
Several scientists and specialists are currently working to determine the best strategies and methods of intervention. However, there are still some ethical and environmental concerns that surround such interventions. This is why climate engineering remains to be a series of plans and hypothesis.
Subsequently, there are three main categories or fields within climate engineering, each tackling a particular problematic. These are Carbon Dioxide Removal, Solar Radiation Management, and Earth Radiation Management.
Carbon Dioxide Removal
When we discuss climate change, the very first thing that comes to our head is carbon dioxide or CO2. Among many other greenhouse gases, CO2 has contributed for thousands of years to regulate the planet’s temperature. However, since the Industrial Revolution, we have been producing more and more carbon dioxide, which raises the temperature of the planet.
Through carbon dioxide removal (CDR), climate engineering intends to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Some methods include sucking this gas using “artificial trees” and storing it for hundreds, even thousands of years.
Solar Radiation Management
Another important aspect of climate change is the amount of solar radiation that enters the planet’s atmosphere. Several studies show that solar radiation has been increasing. Specialists call this “global brightening” and state that this increase in solar radiation has a direct impact on climate change.
Solar Radiation Management (SRM) proposes blocking the amount of solar radiation that enters the Earth. SRM specialists have suggested different methods to reverse such radiation. Among others, they suggest spraying sulfate to the stratosphere, having mirrors orbiting the planet, and even manipulating the clouds to increase their levels of reflection.
Earth Radiation Management
Just as the Earth received radiation from the Sun, it also produces its own energy. The amount of energy that the Earth is able to receive, absorb, reflect, and emit compose the Earth Radiation Budget. Along with the levels of carbon dioxide, and solar radiation, the Earth’s radiation also impacts global climate.
Earth Radiation Management (ERM) specialists are looking for different ways to increase the amount of heat and energy that the Earth is receiving and emitting back to space. However, geoengineering is still struggling with finding ways to achieve such goal.