Geoengineering: A chance or a curse

I want to analyze our current situation regarding climate change and if geoengineering is a viable solution
Tvara Parikh
Grade 9


How can geoengineering affect climate change?


Firstly, I would like to analyze data collected by scientists that showcase the current situation concerning global warming and climate change.  I want to understand the side-effects of fossil fuels and see which ones geoengineering can fix. Secondly, I would like to analyze the current geoengineering practices. Look at the material being used, cost, time and what would happen if we stopped. I also want to understand how practising the same methods all around the globe affects completely different climates, such as those found in the Rainforest and Antarctica. Lastly, I want to gather information on geoengineering's ethics today and how it has affected the current climate change situation. I would also like to analyze future sustainable methods in geoengineering. By doing so, I will be able to predict what sustainable changes need to be implemented in geoengineering methods that will reduce its impact on climate change with minimal side effects. 



Geoengineering: a chance or a curse

Problems we have caused.

The burning of fossil fuels has led to an increased amount of carbon-di-oxide in our atmosphere. Excess carbon means higher temperatures. The carbon cycle, the backbone of all living things on Earth, is disrupted due to the excess carbon. As of 2018, the annual number of extreme meteorological events has doubled since 1980. Just because of the global temperatures rising by one degree has caused December in California to be smoky because of the forest fires. Brutal autumn, a wayward hurricane in Ireland. Puerto Rico's grid lashed by winds means no electricity. While the polar jets split and warps, shoving cold air into the middle of the United States. Not to mention the droughts in Europe during the summer. 


The excess carbon has also made our oceans more acidic. Oceans are the largest carbon-sinks, absorbing ¼ of all carbon we emit. Although this is great, the ocean absorbs too much carbon, resulting in the temperature increasing by 0.13 degrees Celsius. Adapting is not a skill of marine life. In the Great Barrier Reef, 29 percent of the reefs have been bleached. Bleaching has also occurred in the Indian Ocean and Seychelles, killing 69 to 99 in the Indian Ocean and 50 percent in Seychelles. The bleaching of Coral Reefs and loss of life is caused due to the rise of ocean acidity by 0.1 pH or 30% more increase in hydrogen ions concentration. 


At this rate, temperatures will rise to 5.4 degrees CelsiusCelsius by the middle of the century. The consequences of this are more extreme temperatures, higher sea levels, endangered food supplies. The heat might also destroy the rainforest known as the Earth's "lungs" because of all the carbon it takes from the atmosphere and stores. If the Amazon goes, climate change effects will multiply exponentially. No serious actions are being taken to slow down climate change. All the discussions, treaties and handshaking by the world government is a lousy excuse for trying. Therefore scientists and politicians turn to the quickest way we can change our paths; geoengineering. I decided to do this project to inform people on the truth of what exactly geoengineering is. So if the time comes that we need to voice our thoughts on geoengineering, we can make educated decisions based on facts, not lies. 


Geoengineering is defined as intentional large-scale manipulation of the environment. Scale and intent play central roles in the definition. For an action to be geoengineering, the environmental change must be the primary goal rather than a side effect. The intent and effect of the manipulation must be large in scale, e.g. continental to global.

Geoengineering can mainly be divided into two parts:

Solar radiation management 

Solar Radiation Management or SRM is a very big part of geonenering. SRM technologies aim to reflect a certain amount of sunlight out into space, which would result in a cooler planet. Greenhouse gasses trap the sunlight, like how your body heat is trapped inside a blanket, so if less sunlight is absorbed, the less will be trapped, decreasing the temperature. This is currently being done by nature; clouds, oceans, ice and mountains reflect 30% of the sunlight that reaches the other back into space. 


The fraction of sunlight that is reflected into space is known as the 'planetary albedo.' SRM techniques can be implemented faster than carbon-di-oxide removal, and the techniques are cheaper than carbon-di-oxide removal, but they have their drawbacks:

  • If the systems shut down for whatever reasons, the temperature will more very quickly
  • SRM may alter precipitation pattern
  • Ozone depletion


Carbon dioxide removal 

As discussed above, carbon dioxide leads to the heating of the planet. Carbon dioxide removal (carbon dioxide removal ) aims to remove the carbon from the atmosphere, which would decrease the heat captured. This is done by either physical, chemical or biological methods such as afforestation, ocean fertilization, weathering of certain sedimentary rocks, or combining carbon capture and storage technology with the production of biofuels, among other approaches. 

  • Afforestation
  • Enchanted Weathering: 

All the techniques discussed in this paper can be classified into these two categories. Since these categories are so broad, I decided to further split them into which part of the planet they would be implemented to make it easier for the reader. This layout was inspired by a book I read while doing my research called "Hacking planet Earth."

Humans V. Sky and Space:

Silver iodine:

China has placed a burning chamber on the Tibetan Plateau. Rocket technology developed by China allows these chambers to burn at high altitudes, even if the oxygen is thin. These strategically placed chambers are called the sky river. They looked like a tall chimney, an outdoor stove with a tall cylinder vent on top. Each costs about eight thousand dollars and can operate for years. The way they work is that they realize silver iodine, and when the wind is just right, they hitch a ride and rise high into the clouds. Silver iodine exists in nature and is known to have harmful effects on life. Now silver iodine has a molecular structure very similar to that of ice. Ice tricks into thinking that the silver iodide is condensed ice and bonds to it, making the clouds heavier, thus making it rain. This technique is most commonly known as cloud seeding. This is not only done in China but in many other places such as Australia, UAE. There are a great many benefits of cloud seeding. For example, in a study site in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, Australia, a five-year cloud seeding project designed by DRI resulted in a 14 percent increase in snowfall across the project area. Other uses for cloud seeding are:

  • For hydroelectric companies, it snows more, which means there will be more runoff in the spring. Therefore more electricity will be generated. 
  • Cloud seeding can also clear away the fog by turning it into precipitation. This helps increases visibility around airports.
  • Hail is a big issue in Alberta. Cloud seeding is used to manage this. Silver iodide, while increasing the number of hails in a given cloud, also decreases the size, reducing damage. 

Nevertheless, projects like Sky River will take years to implement, and the side effect is unknown. Some scientists believe that causing rainfall in one place is likely to cause a drought in another place. Research on this topic is still being done. It can also cause health problems. As we start to use this method more and more, we will consume more and more silver iodine. This can cause a disease called argyria, which is the graying or bluing of the skin; however, there are no other effects. Laser treatment is being developed and is showing promising results.  


Stratospheric aerosol injections  

The technique that has received the most attention so far is called stratospheric aerosol injection. Aerosols are tiny solid or liquid particles in the atmosphere that reflect or absorb light. Whether or not a type of aerosol absorbs or reflects light depends on the colour and composition. In general, bright-coloured or translucent particles tend to reflect radiation in all directions and back towards space, whereas darker particles absorb significant amounts of light. For example, pure sulphates and nitrates nearly reflect all the radiation they come in contact with; on the other hand, black carbon absorbs radiation readily, warming the atmosphere and shading the surface. This method was inspired by nature. In 1991 Mt.Pinatubo exploded; this was the second-largest explosion of the 20th century. As tragic as this event was, it injected 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide into the air. This gas reacts with other gases to form sulfate aerosol. These particles do not wash out with precipitation; they only settle after a few years. 


The after-effects of the explosion were that the global temperature went down by 0.5 degrees CelsiusCelsius. Scientists propose that via some other delivery system inject reflective particles, such as sulfates, into the stratosphere. The following system has been chosen. A modified aircraft is designed to meet the assumed requirements. The aircraft will be carrying a 25-ton payload 20 km high. With several aerospace and engine companies' help, a team of engineers has successfully modified a normal aircraft to an aircraft that can carry out the task we require. In order to sustain flight in thin air, the wingspan has nearly been doubled. The aircraft would have 4

wing-mounted low-bypass engines, modified for high-altitude operations with an aggregate take-off. Combustion, a simple reaction that will be ongoing when the aircraft is in the air. So Smith proposes that the aircraft should be filled with S, a substance much less dangerous than SO2 on the ground. Through combustion, the S will convert to SO2, which can be captured and released into the atmosphere. 


Adding aerosol into the atmosphere might not only reduce the temperature but do many other things. A team of scientists made the Norwegian Earth system model, and they found that when they added stratospheric aerosol injections, the ocean began to take up more carbon if used the ocean aggressively and sequester more than 10% more carbon than with stratospheric aerosol injections. 


Obviously, adding gas in such quantity cannot come without side effects. Some negative effects of stratospheric aerosol injections are that it increases the burden of stratospheric aerosol and thus the surface area available for heterogeneous reactions. The heterogeneous directions on H2SO4 aerosol are well characterized, and this activity can be used as a baseline for assessing the ozone-depleting impacts of other aerosol types. Also, there is no guarantee that the planet will cool equally, making some countries more sustainable for living than others causing political tension. 


Once we start injecting aerosol into our environment, we might never be able to stop. A termination shock is a substantial rise in global temperature due to the sudden stop in stratospheric aerosol injections, or if SRM deployment would have to be exerting a substantial cooling or disruption to SRM deployment would have to persist for many months or longer. Many models have studied that stopping not only stratospheric aerosol injections but other SRM techniques could offset the warming effects of many decades of greenhouse gases, making it impossible for so many species, including humans, to adapt. This does not mean that stratospheric aerosol injections could never be stopped. If done over a period of time, there would be no termination shock. 


Clouds brightening:

Since we are already talking about how we can use the clouds in our battle against our demons, another way is to brighten the clouds. Think of it this way; if we have two jars of marble that are the same colour but just different sizes, it will seem like one jar holds marble darker than the marble in the second jar. The jar with smaller marbles has more surface area; therefore, they reflect more light, making it seem lighter. Clouds work in the same way. A cloud with larger droplets will have less surface area than a cloud with the same amount of water but smaller droplets. Now the question is, whom can we promote smaller droplets to form?


In a book called "How to cool the planet," the author meets Salter, a scientist. He proposed that we build a ship that is 50 feet long and weighs 300 tons. Instead of sails, there would be three 60 feet high tubes with regularly spaced ribs on them. These tubes would still function as sails but also have smokestacks for saltwater. The idea is that the 300 boats would set sail and pump seawater into the low-hanging clouds right above the ocean. The presence of salt makes it harder for water molecules to bond to the ice structure because ice naturally repels salt molecules. In other words, salt gets in between water molecules. According to Anthony Slingo, in a British climate, brighter clouds reflect more sunlight and thus have a cooling effect on the climate. Slingo argued that by increasing the brightness of low-hanging clouds by 20%, you could offset the heat trapped by the doubling of carbon dioxide emission. However, as the droplets get smaller, they can easily evaporate, leading to a change in precipitation patterns. The suppression of evaporation and change in precipitation patterns have been observed in the model over low-latitude oceans due to marine cloud brightening. 


 Some studies also show a reduction in mean precipitation over the Amazon rainforest area due to marine cloud brightening. However, some studies are showing the possible use of localized impacts of marine cloud brightening. For example, John examines marine cloud's potential efficiency brightening to cool the ocean surface over hurricane regions to weaken the hurricane development. Similarly, Latham examines marine cloud application brightening in cooling the ocean surface over coral reef regions to reduce the coral bleaching caused by increased sea surface temperatures. Results suggest coral bleaching is eliminated with the implementation of marine cloud brightening over the coral reef regions. Termination shock that is explained in the stratospheric aerosol injections section also holds for marine cloud brightening. A sudden stop will result in a rapid increase in temperatures. 


Space-based geoengineering:

Another idea that scientists have taken a serious look at is space-based geoengineering schemes. Basically, the concept centre on fabricating and deploying a large occulting disc or many smaller ones reduces the amount of solar insolation. Less solar insolation leads to mitigating increased temperatures. The disc or discs would weigh a total of 10^7-10^8 tonnes, and the disc or discs would be positioned at the L1 point in the Earth-Moon triangular Lagrange. A problem with this idea is that the orbiting discs could cause significant orbital debris hazards. The way to reduce the damage is to use multiple discs instead of one large one. 


Dr. Roger Angel, a professor of astronomy and optical science at the University of Arizona, has a parasol to develop the concept for a giant space parasol 1000 miles across. The parasol will be made up of many smaller free-flying parasols of "gossamer thin, lunar-made glass." 

 Angel replied that this plan had some practical challenges, so he revised it. He developed a 'sunshade cloud.' To avoid any assembly in Space, Angel proposed that all of it was done on Earth, each 'flyer' would weigh about 1 gram, and the project would be ready in less than 25 years, costing a few trillion dollars. 


Dan Lunt, professor of climate science at the University of Bristol in England. He made a model to try Angel's idea out. His models reveal that the sunshade works to lower global temperatures. He tried out three different models, and in all three, the solar constant, or the amount of solar radiation the Earth receives deceased, eventually, Lunt was able to achieve air temperature like they were as in pre-industrial times. However, the cooling is not consistent throughout the planet, and this could cause some grave ramifications for life. However, there was a big difference between a model with the sunshade and a pre-industrial model, the hydrological cycle with a sunshade world would generally be drier than the pre-industrial one. 


Another idea is to use clouds made of the dust grain. About 2*10^11 tonnes of lunar or commentary dust create clouds at the L4 and L5 points in the Earth-Moon triangular Lagrange. These clouds reflect sunlight to space. However, since each cloud-only reduces solar insolation for a relatively short period each month, significant mass is required to make a difference in the temperature when the cloud is between the Earth and the Sun. 


Lunt concludes that geoengineering space is 'a crazy idea' and will lead to many complications. Plans for geoengineering in space are going on at full speed. Made In Space, a California company explores new ways of designing materials using 'the space environment's unique traits.' 

Humans V. Land and Oceans 


The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet. As the ice on the land melts, it expands, taking extra space and making the sea-level rise. Every foot of sea-level rise quotes 100 feet of coastal erosion, putting about a billion people at risk, causing major cities to become swaps and the extinction of many species. The Silverstein glacier is forged between two rocks, leading to crevasses stacked above each other, giving the glacier blue-coloured ice. The view around the glacier is breath-taking, surrounded by a mountain range and landscapes. Unfortunately, this beauty will not be there for our future generation to look at. The glacier looks solid when seen at first, but it is retreating at an alarming rate skirting to a size not seen since the Little Ice Age. Not only is it the Svartisen glacier, but 198,000 glaciers all over the world are retreating fast. There are many consequences to retreating glaciers, one of them being the Earth's albedo. Fresh snow reflects 95% of the Sun's rays back into outer space, water, on the other hand, only 10%. Soot and dust also play a factor here, and they tend to absorb the sun rays as they are dark materials. The heat that is absorbed melts the snow faster. 

John Moore, a climate science professor and his colleague Michael Wolovick, a researcher at Beijing Normal University, proposes building underwater sills. When warm water comes in contact with a glacier, it melts it. A barrier like and weather dam built for ocean floor material could block that warm water. It could provide glaciers more time to accumulate again. Another idea that they have is to dry out the subglacial stream. Friction is generated when ice slips over the glacier bed; friction generates heat at the ice stream's base. The water acts as a lubricant speeding up the flow, which in turn generates more heat and creates more water slippage. To stop this vicious cycle, some glaciologists have drilled a tunnel in the bedrock of Svartisen to drain it. The water that leaves the tunnel powers a hydroplane and provides valuable information. 

Another scientist working on saving the glacier is Leslie Field, a chemical engineer and lecturer at Stanford. After seeing the 'An inconvenient truth,' she felt as though she needed to do something about climate change. Her idea is to distribute silica beads on the Arctic Ice. Silica is a safe material that occurs naturally and is highly reflective. The technology is ecotoxicology and field testing. The results are positive and no adverse ecological effects.  


Fertilizing oceans 

Colourful coral reefs, beautiful fish and crystal clear water. The oceans are extremely beautiful but also very useful. Phytoplankton is small, single-celled organisms that float near the top of the surface of the water. They are the oxygen producers for marine life, but humans as well; in fact, half of the oxygen in our atmosphere is created by marine plants. When plankton dies, they sink to the seafloor and create a massive carbon storage layer. If an organism eats the plankton, it gets transferred on in the food chain, and the carbon is processed through the organism's waste or when it dies. This is vital because the less carbon our oceans store, the more there is up here and the planet's warmer. In 1950 40% of the plankton died, and since they are so down in the food chain, this disappearance affects all sorts of life forms. 


Whale poop and the Sahara desert are the solutions to our dying phytoplankton. The curious connection between whale feces and desserts is that they both contain high amounts of iron which is beneficial for phytoplankton's growth. A dead zone is a hypoxic area where no life can sustain. Naturally, there are four dead zones: the eastern North Pacific of the coast of Guatemala, the south pacific near Australia, the Bay of Bengal and one in the Arabian sea. Other dead zones are occurring due to human activities, like the one in the Gulf of Mexico and the northeast pacific's subarctic oceans. 


The subarctic oceans should not technically be a dead zone. Upwelling, when micronutrients from the bottom of the ocean go to the surface and feed the plantokon. This bothered a scientist named John Martin. In January 1988, John Martin found out that the more phytoplankton there will be, the amount of iron in the water. A colleague of John Martin conducted a test where fewer phytoplankton were produced and absorbed less carbon. Moreover, his tests even showed that a type of phytoplankton called the 'red tide' was created due to iron dusting. These phytoplankton produce toxins perilous to fish and can make people sick if they consume shellfish. 


  Russ George did a large-scale experiment of iron dusting. In 2012 George trucked one hundred tons of iron dust to the coast of British Columbia, loaded it up on a fishing boat and dumped the lot into the Pacific Ocean, about two hundred miles from the shore. He faced much criticism. Environmentalists accused George of illegal dumping, violating United Nations covenants on geoengineering and other international protocols. Illegal or not, his actions brought life back into a zone that was dead. That fall of 2013, Alaska caught 50 to 52 million fish; they had to stop at 226 million because there was no longer any place to store them. 

Kelp farming 

Another way is to cultivate kelp or seaweed, which would remove carbon-di-oxide through the process of photosynthesis. Eventually, the kelp balded biome to heavy and the blades fall on the ocean floor. Where they sediment and create carbon storage. Companies like the Ridding Tide are already working on this project. Enhancing the growth of kelp will not only sequester carbon but also restore our food chain (more kelp, more fish) and restore our coast because 90% of the kelp forest have disappeared and bringing them back will help stabilize our environment. 

Ocean Welling:

Large vertical pipes will bring nutrient-rich water from deep down to the surface. This is a substitute for ocean fertilization. Similar pipes could also enhance the downwelling of carbon-rich cold water for storage in the deep ocean. 

Ocean alkalization for coral reef recovery/restoration

Ocean acidification damages reefs. Neutralization is the process of mixing a base and acid till there is no excess of hydrogen or hydroxide ions present in the solution. 



Bubbles that are smaller than one-hundredth of a millimetre in but larger than one micrometre in diameter are referred to as microbubbles. A bit like cloud brightening, microbubbles have an equivalent effect. There are three ways of generating micro-bubbles. The common way is dissolving air into some liquid then releasing it through a specially designed nozzle system to make microbubbles. The second way is to make microbubbles through ultrasound. Power ultrasound to induce cavitation at points of maximum rarefaction within the standing ultrasonic waves. The third way is to use an air stream which might be delivered under low offset pressure; the air would break off thanks to mechanical vibration, or flow focusing, or fluidic oscillation, creating bubbles.

Forming small bubbles might sound easy, but that is far away from reality. The primary reason is that when a bubble is made from one aperture, the liquid attached to the perimeter of the aperture is an "anchor" because the wetting force attaches the growing bubble to the solid surface. Unless this anchoring force is disrupted, the bubble will grow until the buoyant force on the bubble (which is proportional to its volume) exceeds the anchoring restraint on the bubble (typically proportional to its contact perimeter) and thus breaks off. During this low offset scenario, the force balance usually breaks off the bubble at a size an order of magnitude larger than the aperture diameter. A second reason for forming larger bubbles from small apertures is the polydispersity of bubble sizes and irregularity of the spacing between bubbles resulting in the bubble rapid coalescence. Albeit small bubbles are formed, then coalescence can rapidly reduce the benefit. The third reason for not forming small bubbles from small apertures is channelling during a nozzle bank of pores or through a porous ceramic material. A side effect of this is that sufficient sunlight will not reach the life below. The microbubbles approach would also reduce oxygen within the ocean's upper layers, where most fish and other species live.

The consequences of bubble clouds on marine life, both in terms of temperature and sunlight changes, are unknown. A cooler ocean also will absorb CO2 more efficiently, enhancing ocean acidification. Bubble clouds would change oceanic circulation and cause unexpected or unusual evaporation, which might successively affect atmospheric heating and circulation. this can also raise questions on the likelihood of regional climate control, potentially unilateral deployment, and even technology as a weapon. The potential impacts of microbubbles on human society were highlighted by research conducted by the Integrated Assessment of Geoengineering Proposals. It found that geoengineering with ocean microbubbles could affect 2 billion people through regional weather changes and extreme events like floods and droughts through modelling exercises.


Carbon dioxide removal - Land Management

An average tree takes about 40 years to absorb one ton of carbon, and tens of billions of carbon are emitted each year. So it makes sense that we should end deforestation and restore our forest. Other benefits include prevention of erosion, recreational value, natural habitats and production of forest foods. Also, large-scale afforestation can modify local climates by increasing humidity and reducing wind speeds; however, growing trees is slow and ineffective, and we are running out of time. Also, in tropical forests, increases in tree growth may increase evapotranspiration that can warm the atmosphere through the greenhouse effect. In boreal regions, the trees will cover the snow, decreasing the surface albedo, resulting in surface warming. Also, it is hard to practise this method. Landowners will not be too happy to grow trees on private land, and using farmland is not an option since we do not have enough food to feed the people right now. Most afforestation projects occur on marginal croplands. Certain models estimate that 60 million to 65 million U.S agricultural land could be converted to woodlands by 2050. A project's cost can range from $65 to $200 per acre, depending on the species and the land condition before. Therefore as natural and safe afforestation is, it is not the best option. 

But what about a forest of artificial trees? Klaus Lancker, the director of the Center for Negative Carbon Emissions and a professor at Arizona State University, came up with a more efficient tree. His trees can absorb as much as one ton of carbon-di-oxide per day. Lancker's tree, about 12 feet tall, looks like a small-foot goal post. The trees have "leaves," which capture carbon-di-oxide as air passes through, just like normal leaves, and then send it to a stainless-steel storage tank. Trees use sunlight to power the transformation of carbon-di-oxide Lancker's tree uses water. When moisture in the air is captured and dries, it acts as a fuel and powers the storage process. The problem is political will and money. Each tree costs twenty thousand to thirty thousand dollars to make, which is not cheap. 

Another problem that is causing climate change in agriculture. As our population grows, we clear more and more land in order to feed people. As we farm, soils lose their original organic carbon. Many cultivated soils have lost 50-70%. A crop that is planted to cover the soil rather than being harvested is known as cover crops. They have many benefits, such as preventing soil erosion, soil fertility, soil quality, water, weeds, pests, diseases, biodiversity, and wildlife. In agroecosystems, they are often in leguminous crops such as beans, lentils, and alfalfa. Cover crops have been found to increase soil carbon sequestration, decrease nitrous oxide emissions, and leach soil nitrate losses. Farmers are adapting to no or low tillage, essentially trying to plant seeds and using fertilizer or manure with minimal soil disturbance, which results in net soil carbon sequestration that averages 1.2 tCO2 per hectare year. 


Surface Mineralisation:

It is often also referred to as enhanced weathering, which speeds up a natural process where rock draws out carbon d-oxide from the air. This is done by increasing the surface area of the rock. One report by Ernes recommends using olivine as a gravel road building substitute in Mozambique. Olivine is an igneous rock mineral; therefore, in higher temperatures and when exposed to the surface, olivine will weather quickly. Weathering is a process where rocks and other matter break down when they contact the Earth's atmosphere or biological organism. Weathering absorbs much carbon-di-oxide as it happens. The thing is, though, we would need olivine. In the case of raw coal with 68% carbon content, the mass of our olivine would have to be four times the mass of the coal to be effective. 


Direct ex-situ gas-solid Carbonation

When gaseous carbon-dioxide reacts with solid silicate, it forms carbonate. The reaction can be accelerated by pre-treating the mineral and grinding it before using it to increase the reactive surface area, but this requires much energy. Also, this technique is far too slow to be effective in carbon capture storage on a wide-scale basis. So a substitute is aqueous mineral carbonation. 


Aqueous mineral carbonation

This technique is at the focus point of research. Water would significantly speed up the reaction rate. The proof of this is in nature when the rain's weathering process speeds up because of mobilization of ions in carbon acid reaction with alkaline minerals. We would need to either spray crushed minerals in the ocean or add water to minerals taking place on the land. The cost depends on crashing and slurring the feedstock, which will be used in an industrial context. 


Indirect Ex-Situ Gas/solid CarbonationCarbonation

This is a three-step process:

  • The concentration of hydrated magnesium silicate from serpentine or any other high Mg bearing rock
  • Converting hydrated magnesium silicate and magnesium hydroxide
  • Reacting magnesium hydroxide with carbon-dioxide to give stable magnesium carbonate


The conversion of slicated to hydroxide in endothermic heating would need to be 500 degrees celsius and ammonium sulphate. Ammonium sulphate can be reused, and the carbonation reaction is exothermic, so some of that energy can be recovered and used to heat the process of hydroxide. 

Humans v. Future

Usually, at the end of research papers like this one, the author would let the reader know how bright the future's of whatever topic they are writing about and the wonderful development coming our way. I may be the first, that is, hoping that this hopefully never happens. Like I said before, geoengineering is like chemo, it does cure cancer, but the best course of action is not to consume alcohol in the first place. Everyone that is working on developing geoengineering hopes that they never have to use it. However, expecting humanity to cut emissions as fast as we need them to seems impossible. 


So as we move forward, more people, politics, and government consider geoengineering, lifting the taboo on it. Now the theoretical proposals are being implemented. For example, Harvard now has a Solar Geoengineering Research Program initiated by David Keith. They plan to conduct a field experiment, where they inject sulfur dioxide, alumina, or calcium carbonate into the stratosphere. Sensors would also be deployed to measure the reflectivity of the particles, the degree to which they disperse, and how they interact with other compounds. Initial test flights could occur as early as next year. More and more tests like these once are being allowed, and the more data we are gaining.


The non-scientific side-effects of geoengineering:

When a complicated system like the climate system is tinkered, it is the equivalent of introducing cane toads to control sugarcane beetles. The government, scientists and environmentalists have been reluctant to talk about geoengineering. The simple reason is geoengineering would weaken resolve to reduce carbon emissions. As we start implementing these methods, industrialists will have a shield that will protect them from accusations as the temperature starts going down. Geoengineering is not a permanent solution, nor is it a substitute for cutting emissions. It is simply a way to get humanity some precious and much-needed time to take the right actions. Nevertheless, many industries will abuse this resource and might prolong, and plans to cut emissions will be thrown out. 


Notwithstanding, all this will happen if geoengineering is ever implemented. From 1300 B.C to the present day, we have had constant wars. Wars happen because countries, governments, leaders do not get along with other countries, governments, leaders. To have all the world leaders in a room, agreeing to one plan, to me it seems like a barbaric dream. Democracies work because some event has to bring the problem to the surface, and then politicians act, for example, school bus safety, nobody acts on it, till there is a tragic accident. David Kethi believes the environment is the same. When thousands and thousands of people will die in a disaster, then the government will be forced to work together. Maybe not a dream after all. 


At the start, I mentioned the Sky River, a project initiated by China. In the book I read, it also said that if you produce precipitation in one area, it takes away the propensity for rain or snow in another area. That could be contentious run high between China, Tibet and India and Pakistan. As I have mentioned before, geoengineering does not affect all the places in the world equally. Therefore making some countries winners and losers, just like in sports, competition is not always healthy. Despite, let us imagine that all the government agrees to support geoengineering, and some countries heat up. Will other countries be ready to support people who live in those areas. I do not know about you, but if my government were ready to put my life at stake against my will, I would raise my voice. It is very likely that geoengineering will cause riots. Riots bring police force, and so many innocent people get hurt. 


As mentioned in the section above, Harvard will inject aerosol into our atmosphere, which will affect everyone. However, the decision to give them this permission, I am sure, did not include everyone's opinions. There are many ethical issues to 


A more philosophical question that arises is do we want to be dependent on technology. As we know, the effect of termination shock would be devastating, and even if we slow down the process of stopping, there is no guarantee there will be no side effects. Another problem do we have the right to make our future generations dependent on technology. Is it ethical to do something so permanent? A documentary I watched explained this in a very nice way. Let us imagine we are a patient in the hospital dying of cancer. The doctor tells us that we have a year to live without treatment or try this new treatment, but not too much research has been done. What would you choose? 




This visual shows the effect of marine cloud brightening


The first graph shows the effect of land-based CDR methods, and the send one shows the effect of ocean-based CRD methods. 

This shows a picture of a high-tech model, the before and after of inject sulphate aerosols. 





When Edward Jenner in 1796 developed the first human vaccine for smallpox, many people refused to take it because they feared injury or death, which was true long after the vaccine was proven to be safe. We are petrified of the uncertain, but then once in a while, these people come along, and they change our life. Yes, those people are smart and born with talent, but then so are we. The difference is that they are willing to take the risk to jump even if they don’t know where they are going to land. 


The purpose of this paper was not to promote geoengineering. The Energy and Climate: Studies in Geophysics Report published by the U.S. National Academy of Science in 1977 barely talked about cutting emissions, but it mentioned geoengineering as the sole answer to our problem. Governments are starting to consider this, and in my opinion, when geoengineering is exactly what politicians want, a way to satisfy scientists and environmentalists and not ruin their precious economy. So if they want to start implementing these techniques, they will show the most peach side of geoengineering without mentioning the side effects. I want to inform people about the truth of geoengineering. Full transparency. 


I try my best not to influence my readers in supporting or being against geoengineering. I hope you have understood geoengineering techniques and based an opinion on the facts provided and your experience and benefits. Since it is the end of the paper, I would like to share the view. The Paris Agreement, one of the biggest agreements for climate change, had everyone so hopeful. The Paris Agreement aimed to keep the global temperatures from increasing more than 2 degrees celsius and maybe even 1.5 degrees celsius. Most countries are barely following the plan. Talking, meeting, signing does nothing to help our problem. But we can’t put all the blame on the governments. Mating a temperature requires us to cut emissions, and that means, at least in Alberta, that so many people have to lose their jobs, and the economy crashes. Leaders need to make sure that their people don’t suffer. For these reasons, I believe that geoengineering seems like our only option. Yes, there might be side effects, but if we don’t do anything, we will die anyway, just a little later, and it will probably be more gruesome. In fact, many scientists believe that we have gone past the point of no return. Even if we magically stop emitting greenhouse gases, we have emitted enough to doom us. So we will have to use carbon-di-oxide removal methods.


I believe that geoengineering is safe because the ideas are mostly based on natural processes. The techniques just enhance them. For example, as I mentioned before, stratospheric aerosol injection is based on volcanoes. Volcanoes erupt all the time, and it definitely does not have any side effects. If we start stratospheric aerosol injection, we will start with so much less aerosol than a volcano put in our atmosphere. 


I really like the end of a book called “Hacking planet Earth.” It says that “The quicker we admit the Earth-our common Mother- is sick and can no longer care for herself, the sooner we can intervene and help her heal. Natural remedies aren’t working. Medical vaccines have saved humans from dying off in droves. Geoengineering and environmental technologies are the vaccines. We need to cure the planet's ill. It's time to take our shots.”


For research:




I also used the following books:

How To Cool The Planet by Jeff Goodell

Hacking Planet Earth by Thomas M. Kostigen

After Geoengineering: Climate Tragedy, Repair, and Restoration by Holly Jean Buck




I would like to thank Ms, Shoutls, my wonderful science teacher who help me along the way. 

Manini Kapida for giving advice. 

And my amazing mom. Without her, I could never complete the project.