World Climate Day: These climate intervention techniques offer hope

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World Climate Day

March 26 is World Climate Day. The day was established by the United Nations to raise awareness about the importance of climate change and its impact on people and their activities. However, despite global efforts, CO₂ emissions continue to rise, with increasingly visible consequences. Think of temperature rises, extreme weather conditions and ocean acidification.

A recent report from the World Meteorological Organisation and the Copernicus Climate Change Service shows that Europe is the fastest warming continent. In Spain, a temperature increase of 1.3 ºC above the 1991-2020 average was measured last year. This made 2023 the hottest year in history. And 2024 looks set to continue this trend.

Growing concern

Concerns about greenhouse gases have evolved significantly over the years. Since the 19th century, scientists such as Svante Arrhenius have been warning about the impact of human activities on the climate. Over the course of the 20th century, scientific understanding strengthened, but public awareness lagged behind. From the new millennium, extreme weather events and international agreements, such as the Paris Agreement in 2015, have intensified concerns and actions against climate change.

Climate intervention techniques

As concern for the planet and the development of renewable energies increased, other lines of research were also developed. Climate intervention techniques, which have been the subject of discussion and study for decades, are gaining popularity. Scientists are considering active intervention in Earth’s cycles. They hope to do this to counteract the effects of increasing emissions.

CO₂ capture as a promising solution

One of the most promising techniques is the mechanical capture of CO₂. This can be achieved by power plants, industrial sources or by chemical absorption and huge fans that direct air through filters. There are currently 30 operational projects worldwide and 153 in development. Of these, the Orca plant in Iceland is the most advanced project in this direction.

Nature-based solutions

Other strategies harness natural processes to reduce emissions and increase the biosphere’s ability to capture and store carbon. This includes techniques such as reforestation, sustainable soil management, wetland restoration, and climate-smart agriculture.

Moon dust cannons for sunlight reduction

A more experimental approach to global warming is to use a moon dust cannon to dim sunlight. Although physically more plausible, it has not yet been proven that such a drastic phenomenon can be carried out in a controlled manner.

The ‘Odeón’ project investigates the boundaries and risks

The Odeón project was developed by researchers from the Environmental Physics Laboratory (EPhysLab) in Ourense and Post-Growth Innovation Lab of the University of Vigo. With this project, researchers aim to understand the limitations and risks of injecting sulphates into the atmosphere in Spain. They also want to know more about their potential impact on solar energy production and air quality. To study these hypothetical cases, they compare data from existing climate model simulations from international projects, the latest generation of reanalyses and climate change control simulations covering the period 1980-2100.

Remove methane from atmosphere

As part of a project at the IQF-CSIC, an international team performed the “first calculation” on what would be needed and what impact it would have to mitigate climate change by removing methane from the atmosphere using chlorine. The results were published in the journal Nature Communications. As suspected, the results revealed that in the long term the injection would significantly reduce photovoltaic energy production in Spain.

Research to create more complete climate models

Many still believe that “the best solution to climate action is not to intervene.” Yet, from a scientific point of view, it is irresponsible not to have the knowledge regarding climate intervention techniques. Even if it is just to “keep it in a drawer”. In general, this type of research can help develop improved climate models. This also makes it possible to simulate the chemistry of the atmosphere more completely, for example. Research does not necessarily serve its original purpose, but is fundamental to the knowledge it provides to advance science.

Also read: Spain among EU countries most affected by climate change

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