The debate about whether or not the Earth is heating up is over, and scientists are now figuring out what changes will need to be made in the future, due to global warming. Researchers say, "Many of these possible options are highly speculative at present, and some may even appear to be crazy."
Alex Kirby reports in bbcnews.com on a U.K. conference where engineers discussed possible global warming solutions. One is to "sequester" (store) carbon dioxide on the floor of the oceans. The only problem with this is that an earthquake could release all the stored carbon at one time, causing an environmental catastrophe. Great quantities of methane released from the ocean floor in the past, for unknown reason, caused a major extinction in the past.
Another is to figure out how to clean soot and pollutants off glaciers and other ice covered surfaces, so that they reflect heat back up into the atmosphere, rather than absorb it. This will also slow down glacier melt. Europe will cool down significantly if melting glaciers dilute the ocean with freshwater, causing the gulf stream to no longer flow north. This problem can be solved if glacier melt can somehow be slowed down or if ocean currents can be stabilized. One drastic way to control ocean currents would be to cut a giant canal through Central America.
All the researchers agreed that reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by around 50%, which may be needed to avoid excessive climate change, will be very difficult, and could require even larger cuts by developed countries. Developing countries rely more heavily on higher emissions vehicles and power plants and don't have the money to switch to new, cleaner technology. And these aren't all small nations, either: one of them is China, which has so many people that it can alter the weather all by itself.
Researcher John Schellnhuber says, "?We must think about unconventional strategies?because a back-of-envelope calculation shows we're unlikely to do the job without them. We may have missed the best time to intervene to protect the climate. Kyoto will reduce global warming by less than a tenth of a degree anyway. If it can be rescued, by then it may mean we've lost another 10 years and are simply running out of time."
To see what global warming may bring in the future, click here.
Remember: Civilizations have overcome major obstacles in the past.
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