This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site you agree to our use of cookies. To find out more, see our Privacy and Cookies policy.
Skip to the content

Share this

Free weekly newswire

Sign up to receive all our latest news direct to your inbox.

Physics on film

100 Second Science Your scientific questions answered simply by specialists in less than 100 seconds.

Watch now

Bright Recruits

At all stages of your career – whether you're an undergraduate, graduate, researcher or industry professional – brightrecruits.com can help find the job for you.

Find your perfect job

Physics connect

Are you looking for a supplier? Physics Connect lists thousands of scientific companies, businesses, non-profit organizations, institutions and experts worldwide.

Start your search today

Blog

Should we engineer the climate to counter the effect of global warming?

By James Dacey

Geoengineering is the idea of controlling the weather and climate by the large-scale engineering of the environment. The idea has come to prominence in recent years as concerns about man-made global warming have increased and governments have faltered on negotiations to restrict carbon-dioxide emissions.

hands smll.jpg

One of the more radical proposals is to intervene with the Earth’s solar-energy balance by deploying technologies to reflect sunlight. Suggestions include painting buildings white to make them more reflective, injecting reflective aerosols into the atmosphere, or even deploying a fleet of shields into the Earth’s orbit to directly intercept incoming sunlight.

The other main approach to geoengineering is to try to directly remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. One area already being developed is carbon capture and storage (CCS), a three-stage process that involves harvesting, transporting and then storing the carbon dioxide in suitable underground locations such as vast saline aquifers. A more radical approach is to fertilize the ocean with a limiting nutrient such as iron to promote more marine flora, which will draw more carbon out of the atmosphere during photosynthesis.

Earlier this week we published an interview with the high-profile geophysicist Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science in the US. Caldeira has some severe reservations about geoengineering, specifically concerning: its environmental impact; how the presence of a “plan B” that may prove unreliable could affect efforts to cut carbon emissions; and who on the global stage should regulate use of the technology, particularly when it may reduce rainfall in some areas.

We want to know your opinion on this issue, via this week’s Physics World Facebook poll.

Should we engineer the climate to counter the effect of global warming?

Let’s do it!
We should prepare to do it as a “plan B” if carbon emissions continue to rise
No way! The environmental risks are too high
No, because it won’t work anyway

Have your say by casting your vote on our Facebook page. As always, please feel free to explain your response by posting a comment.

In last week’s poll we looked at the issue of university ranking exercises. The issue was on our minds because the Times Higher Education (THE) had just released its annual list of the top 100 universities, which was dominated by institutions in English-speaking countries. We asked whether you think these university ranking exercises are inherently biased. The outcome was highly conclusive, with 96% of respondents opting for “yes”.

Thank you for your participation and we look forward to hearing from you in this week’s poll.

This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

Leave a comment

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Guidelines

  • Comments should be relevant to the article and not be used to promote your own work, products or services.
  • Please keep your comments brief (we recommend a maximum of 250 words).
  • We reserve the right to remove excessively long, inappropriate or offensive entries.

Show/hide formatting guidelines

Tag Description Example Output
<a> Hyperlink <a href="http://www.google.com">google</a> google
<abbr> Abbreviation <abbr title="World Health Organisation" >WHO</abbr> WHO
<acronym> Acronym <acronym title="as soon as possible">ASAP</acronym> ASAP
<b> Bold <b>Some text</b> Some text
<blockquote> Quoted from another source <blockquote cite="http://iop.org/">IOP</blockquote>
IOP
<cite> Cite <cite>Diagram 1</cite> Diagram 1
<del> Deleted text From this line<del datetime="2012-12-17"> this text was deleted</del> From this line this text was deleted
<em> Emphasized text In this line<em> this text was emphasised</em> In this line this text was emphasised
<i> Italic <i>Some text</i> Some text
<q> Quotation WWF goal is to build a future <q cite="http://www.worldwildlife.org/who/index.html">
where people live in harmony with nature and animals</q>
WWF goal is to build a future
where people live in harmony with nature and animals
<strike> Strike text <strike>Some text</strike> Some text
<strong> Stronger emphasis of text <strong>Some text</strong> Some text
WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux