Through human pollution the effects of climate change could be catastrophic, but is there a way that we can fix the problems we are creating?
Scientists at the Centre for Climate Repair at the University of Cambridge are currently looking at new ways to fix the damage we have done. Through their first-in-the-world initiative, headed by the UK Government’s former chief scientific adviser, Prof Sir David King, the scientists are working hard to find ways to reduce the world’s carbon emissions and slow down the effects of climate change. There are already several ideas that they are being investigated and, in some cases, they are already being implemented.
This includes carbon capture and storage or CCS plants These plants are designed to extract CO2 from the air to then be stored underground. This has been successfully piloted in Port Talbot, South Wales at Tata Steel. The Cambridge scientists hope that they can expand this technology with it being further implemented at other sites, especially coal and gas fired power stations and other steel plants.
Some companies have used this technology to go a step further and are now recycling the CO2 they extract. For example, in Northwich, Cheshire, Tata Chemicals Europe (TCE) have opened a carbon capture plant that will turn 40,000 tonnes of CO2 into bicarbonate of soda each year.
Other ways to recycle the CO2 at these plants is to turn it into a synthetic fuel, that will be produced by using the waste heat that comes from the plant itself.
The scientists have also thought of ways to help both the North and South poles refreeze. The aim is to make the clouds brighter, in order for them to become more reflective. The more reflective the cloud the more heat is reflected back from the sun. This should then keep the area below cool enough to stop the ice from melting further and cause an increase in refreezing.
To do this sea water will be pumped up tall masts and sprayed/injected into the clouds through a small nozzle. The salt in the water will then brighten the clouds making them more reflective.
Not all of the scientists’ ideas are met with enthusiasm, their investigations into greening the oceans have been met with opposition.
Ocean greening is the process of fertilising certain parts of the ocean to encourage the growth of phytoplankton. This will green the ocean and it should increase the oceans intake of CO2. The opposition for this comes from the argument that increasing the number of phytoplankton will have devastating effects on the ecosystem.
Overall, the scientists at the Centre for Climate Repair are leading the way in innovating new ideas to combat the damage we have done to the planet. Hopefully, this will encourage others in the field to look for new sustainable fixes too.