10 Ways to Stop Climate Change Using Science and Engineering

Annalee Newitz
NOV 9, 2012 10:22 AM

The climate is changing. It was bound to happen, whether humans intervened or not. The Earth has gone through so many climate changes over its 4.5 billion years of life that it’s enough to make your head spin — or melt, or get eroded by corrosive elements in the atmosphere, depending on what geological era you lived through. Over 25 million years ago, icy Antarctica was a tropical paradise. But as it and the north pole froze over, the planet entered a cooler period that was ideal for the evolution of humans and many other creatures in our current ecosystems.

So if we want to survive, we need to do something profoundly unnatural. We need to maintain the climate in its current state. And we’ll do it by conducting the greatest geochemistry experiment in the history of the world. Some call it geoengineering. Here are ten ways this could happen.

Maintaining the climate in an ideal state for us means keeping things cool at the poles. That’s where geochemistry comes in. Put simply, the more carbon there is floating around in the atmosphere, the warmer things get. So, to stop things from heating up into a greenhouse climate, we need to maintain present levels of carbon in the atmosphere. We also need to keep the oceans fairly alkaline. The more carbon there is in the atmosphere, the more gets dissolved in the oceans to become carbonic acid. You’ve probably heard this process called “acidification.” It kills sea creatures who occupy core nodes in the food web, and once they go, the whole thing unravels and a lot of species die rapidly.

So as we go through these options, remember our key goals: 1) Keep it cool; 2) Less carbon in the air; and 3) Less acidification of the oceans.

Read more: 10 Ways to Stop Climate Change Using Science and Engineering — io9.

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