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Geoengineering to reduce warming could have a negative impact on plants, animals

Geoengineering to reduce warming could have a negative impact on plants, animals
Geoengineering to reduce warming could have a negative impact on plants, animals

Scientists have warned that putting in place geoengineering efforts to slow down climate change and reducing global warming may end up severely and negatively impacting plants and animals.

Through a study researchers at Rutgers University-New Brunswick and colleagues have pointed out that geoengineering measures to cope with the runaway climate change could have it benefits in the short term, but if we give up on these efforts a little while from now, chances are that the damage it does will far surmount the negative impact of global warming if we let it progress as is.

Geoengineering technique is highly controversial with equal members on both sides of the aisle. Researchers of the new study point out that geoengineering if unexpectedly stopped could lead to a more rapid surge in heat on the planet and that would have devastating effects on plants and animals.

Some of the possible reasons behind the abrupt stop would be retraction of government support of natural calamities in the area where these facilities are or war, a terrorist attack among other things.

Research into “geoengineering” — technologies that could potentially deal with runaway climate change by artificially modifying how reflective the earth is, or sucking excess carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere — is on the upswing as the world edges closer to moving beyond what are seen as relatively safe levels of climate change.

Under the Paris agreement on climate change, countries have pledged to keep global warming to well below 2°C above industrial levels, with an aim of 1.5°C.

But unless national plans to curb emissions are ramped up quickly, the Earth is expected to warm by at least 3°C by the end of the century — a level expected to melt much of the world’s ice and spur worsening crop failures, extreme weather and sea level rise.

The earth has already warmed more than 1°C above pre-industrial levels, and this warming has been blamed for last year’s devastating hurricanes, droughts and floods.

Spraying sulphur dioxide and other particles into the planet’s upper atmosphere would create a cloud of sulphuric acid that reflects some of the sun’s rays, cooling the planet, researchers say.

The largely untested technology mimics the effects of volcanic eruptions, and could be deployed with modified airplanes, balloons or other delivery devices, they say.

But critics warn that it could change fundamental earth processes in hard-to-predict and potentially hugely problematic ways, such as shifting the focus of Asia’s monsoons.

Supporters of the technology say countries will not curb their emissions fast enough to keep global warming within relatively safe levels, so solutions need to be prepared and tested in order found to protect lives.

Besides increasingly the reflectivity of the earth, other technological proposals to deal with dangerous climate change include sucking greenhouse gases from the air and storing them underground — or planting huge areas of the earth to forests, which would then be burned for energy with emissions also stored underground.

More research urgently needs to be done into the different impacts of geoengineering, including its impacts on plants and animals, researchers said.

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Alexander Forster

Alexander Forster

Alexander is an Australian who has also lived in Europe and is currently based in the US. He holds a bachelors degree in medical research with first class honours in neuroscience. Alexander enjoys writing in a range of fields in health science research.

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