Jun 05, 2014 04:35 AM EDT
Climate Engineering Not Effective Solution to Battle Climate Change, Study
Climate engineering is not a viable long-term solution in dissipating greenhouse gases and reducing global warming in the coming years, according to a new report authored by researchers at six universities, including the Simon Fraser University.
Researchers said that humans have to in fact implement measures that effectively reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into the atmosphere. For example, replacing fossil fuels with low-carbon energy sources, enhancing energy efficiency and changing human behavior among others are effective ways of facing climate change.
For the study, the researchers ranked a wide range of geoengineering techniques to fight climate change in terms of their feasibility, cost-effectiveness, risk, public acceptance, governability and ethics. The researchers also analyzed climate engineering methods and their effects on greenhouse gases.
The researchers found that climate engineering strategies - aerosols spraying salt into air, developing machines that absorb carbon from atmosphere, enriching the oceans with iron to suck carbon dioxide or reducing global warming through injection of particles into the atmosphere to block sunlight among others - are less appealing.
"Take the example of solar radiation management, which is the idea of putting aerosols into the stratosphere, kind of like what happens when a large volcano erupts. This is a surprisingly cheap way to reduce global temperatures, and we have the technology to do it."
"But our study asked other important questions. What are the environmental risks? Will global citizens accept this? What country would manage this? Is that fair? Suddenly, this strategy does not look so attractive," Researcher Jonn Axsen, the assistant professor in SFU's School of Resource and Environmental Management, said in a press release.
However, some approaches to climate engineering are promising than others in reducing the climate-change effects resulting from human activity. For example, forest management and geological storage of carbon dioxide may be useful if used alongside emission reduction.
The researchers hope that the findings will assist policy makers in introducing measures concerning food production, climate and food security that has largest payoffs and fewer disadvantages.
The finding is published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.
The finding supports a similar study conducted by Geomar Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Germany.
The researchers used software to track the benefits and drawbacks of five different geoengineering technologies. They found that intentionally manipulating the Earth's climate could prove useless, and at worst harmful. Geoengineering will not be able to stop average surface temperatures from increasing more than 2°C (3.6°F) above current temperatures by the year 2100.
"The long-term consequences and side effects of these methods have not been adequately studied," said Dr David Keller from the Geomar Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany, Daily Mail UK reports.
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