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Tag: Environmental Science

Geoengineering: The Boomerang Solution to Climate Change

 

Title

Geoengineering: The Boomerang Solution to Climate Change

 

  Critical Question

Why is geoengineering not an effective solution to combating climate change and environmental degradation?

 

Thesis

 Although geoengineering could mitigate and reverse certain causes and effects of climate change, there are severe potential repercussions to engineering nature which could, in fact, worsen the climate and environmental crisis.

 

   Brief Description

       Climate change is the most imminent crisis of our time and drastic action needs to be taken to combat it. Geoengineering is a technology-based solution to climate change and allows humanity to potentially solve the issues of climate change by means of science and technology, rather than by means reducing carbon dioxide output and consumption of goods.  One of the techniques of geoengineering is firing sulfates into the atmosphere to increase earth’s albedo. Higher albedo causes more energy from the sun to be reflected back into space, and in turn, decreases global warming. Geoengineering can also be used for carbon sequestration, a direct response to the surplus of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

      In my paper, I will be addressing how geoengineering could have extremely devastating effects on society and the world in general. Specifically, I will investigate the various potentially negative scientific and social effects of geoengineering. My topic fits under the STS umbrella because I will be investigating the effectiveness of technology in science, particularly geological and environmental science. Furthermore, society plays an exceptionally large role in climate change, and I will be arguing why they should work as a group to combat climate change,  instead of few scientists inventing technology to do so.

 

 Tentative Outline

        In my introduction I will briefly address how humans are causing climate change and environmental degradation. I will cover what action needs to be taken in order to reverse and mitigate our environmental impact. Next, I will introduce the different ways to decrease environmental impact, one of which is geoengineering. From there, I will explain some of the benefits of geoengineering, and its potential to combat climate change. Finally, I will present a summary of the dangers of geoengineering and state my thesis.

      In my body paragraphs, I will argue why geoengineering is not the solution to climate change. I will first present the various ways geoengineering could fail in terms of its technological functions. I will address how certain technologies could, in fact, worsen climate conditions. For example,  many of the outcomes of geoengineering are unpredictable and there are potentially severe repercussions of intentionally altering a large-scale global system. We have already engineered the climate by pumping carbon dioxide into it, and that has had severe consequences.  Therefore, intentionally altering the climate could prove just as, if not more, horrific. In the next section of my paper I will address the aspects of environmental degradation that geoengineering will not target to the necessary degree, including ocean acidification biodiversity loss. Going off that point I will introduce the “Moral Hazard” and address how geoengineering could reduce other environmental action, as it may seem unnecessary if people think technology can solve environmental issues alone. Based on the previous point I will demonstrate that even if geoengineering were to function as intended, it could still indirectly increase human-driven climate change and environmental degradation.

To conclude my paper I will restate the main points of my argument. I will place a particular emphasis on the question: do we want to let technology control nature? I will state my opinion that no we do not want that, and instead, we need to rely on cutting our carbon emissions and being more environmentally friendly to combat the environment and climate crisis.

 

                                                                                                                                            Bibliography

Biello, D. (2010, April 06). What Is Geoengineering and Why Is It Considered a Climate Change Solution? Retrieved April 04, 2018, from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/geoengineering-and-climate-change/

Connolly, Kate. (2017, October 14). Geoengineering is not a quick fix for climate change, experts warn Trump. Retrieved April 04, 2018, from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/14/geoengineering-is-not-a-quick-fix-for-climate-change-experts-warn-trump

Ellison, K., E., Waisman, D., Drimonis, T., Visser, N., Weber, B., . . . Dylan Waisman & Tracy Sherlock. (2018, March 30). What on Earth? Why climate change skeptics are backing geoengineering. Retrieved April 04, 2018, from https://www.nationalobserver.com/2018/03/30/news/what-earth-why-climate-change-skeptics-are-backing-geoengineering

Krugman, P. (2015, December 04). Republicans’ Climate Change Denial Denial. Retrieved April 04, 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/04/opinion/republicans-climate-change-denial-denial.html

Lin, A. C. (2013). Does Geoengineering Present a Moral Hazard? Law: UC Davis. Retrieved April 5, 2018, from https://law.ucdavis.edu/faculty/lin/files/ELQ.MoralHazard.pdf.

Robock, A., Marquard, A., Kravitz, B., & Stenchikov, G. (2009). Benefits, risks, and costs of stratospheric geoengineering. Geophysical Research Letters,36(L19703). Retrieved April 3, 2018, from http://climate.envsci.rutgers.edu/pdf/2009GL039209.pdf

Wingington, D. (n.d.). Geoengineering Dangers Discussed By Officials, Agency Scientists And Other Experts. Retrieved April 04, 2018, from http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org/geoengineering-dangers-discussed-by-officials-agency-scientists-and-other-experts/

Radford, T. (2014, December 01). Geoengineering Could Worsen Climate Change. Retrieved April 06, 2018, from https://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/geoengineering-could-worsen-climate-change

Environmental Humanities: Connecting Two Cultures.

      Global temperatures are skyrocketing, species are going extinct, and our environment is experiencing rapid devasting changes. Currently, over 97% of climate scientists are in agreement that humans are the cause of climate change. These scientists strongly advocate that we need to take drastic action to prevent the alteration of our climate. However, only 45% percent of the public is in agreement that we, as a biological species, are causing these biogeochemical changes(ES 118). If less than half of the public believes in man-made climate change, it will be exceptionally difficult to fully address the climate issue. To best tackle the climate crisis, we need to bridge the gap between climate scientists and the general public; we need to connect the two cultures. By implementing a system of environmental humanities, along with the science, it will be possible to increase acceptance of climate change in our society.

       Environmental scientists are extremely capable of proving climate change, however, they fail to connect with much of society on this issue. Organizations, such as NASA and the EPA, have compiled innumerable graphs and datasets, demonstrating the effects of climate change(NASA, EPA). They have emphasized the point that there is nearly a perfect correlation between carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, largely emitted from man-made technology, and global temperature rise. Furthermore, climate scientists have posted articles and research papers on how increasing temperatures result in droughts, melting glaciers, and other factors that provide deadly for earth’s biota(NASA). Despite the mountain of evidence scientists have compiled on the reality and effects of climate change, it is not largely accepted by the public. This is a failure of scientists and the greater community; there is a void between the two. Many people have written on this issue. Namely, C.P. Snow addresses this lack of communication and acceptance in his book, “The Two Cultures.” In his book he discussed the divide between scientific community and others (Snow). The lack of understanding and connection between scientists and the rest of society decreases the effectivity and authority of scientific discoveries. Without this communication, scientific discoveries decrease their value as they cannot be implemented into society. For example, climate scientists have the evidence for climate change, yet more than half of the world’s population does not believe in it, begging the question of the necessity to change the way we express the issues of climate change. Currently, if you wish to find information regarding climate change, you need to turn to scientific magazines, journals, and videos. People, especially those not scientifically inclined, will likely not be overly concerned with the spouting of statistics and dry scientific research. It will take more of a well-rounded, humanities-based approach to convince them of the severity of the climate issue.

      Environmental humanities draws from the arts, and in this way connects with people and expresses climate change in a way that can be more accepted by the public. By studying and focusing on the relations between cultural, linguistic, and environmental relations, this topic touches on almost every essential academic aspect in society. In this way it has the potential to bridge the gap between scientists and the rest of society. There have been several artistic attempts to express the effects of climate change. John Quigley made an immense replica of the Vitruvian man on a melting glacier as a metaphor of the effect climate change has on humanity, in addition to nature(TIME). Furthermore, David Nye claims that our environmental crisis cannot be solved by technology and science alone. He says that addressing this issue will also require addressing the cultural and social effects of climate change(MIT). Environmental humanities allows us to understand how climate change is affecting humans directly, through means such as famine and natural disasters. Furthermore, it portrays these ideas visually and artistically, which can be an extremely powerful means of expressing the climate crisis. Alternatively, not only does environmental humanities increase the access to and understanding of climate change, but it also welcomes a wider variety of academics into the environmental field. By expanding environmental studies to include the humanities, people who are not scientifically minded can contribute to environmental protection. This in turn, will increase the publicity and access to the environmental studies, resulting in a larger percentage of the population engaged with and understanding climate issues.

      With the combination of environmental science and humanities, it is possible to increase the accessibility of information and knowledge on climate issues. Environmental humanities can portray the information provided by scientists in a way that is understandable and inclusive to the general community. If more people accept climate change as a reality, and accept its true effects, socially and scientifically, we can hazard to hope that society will make it a larger goal of theirs to address the climate crisis. By introducing the larger community to the environmental humanities, an alternative mechanism of addressing the issue of climate change, our society may have a chance at preserving a healthy and natural environment.

SOURCES

Climate Change Basics 12-14 March 2018File

https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/environmental-humanities

https://www.epa.gov/

http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/09/08/artist-renders-giant-melting-vitruvian-man-on-arctic-ice/

 

“The Two Cultures” by C.P. Snow

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