That always leads to the controversial subject of geoengineering, which could be necessary to rescue our earth from the brink of destruction. Many are against it because of the unintended consequences manipulating the climate could cause.
But researchers believe they must be prepared with "urgent ways of dealing with carbon emissions," Mark Maslin, a fellow at UK’s Royal Geographical Society, told Bloomberg. Even the goal of keeping temperatures below 2C can no longer be met without geoengineering, he says.
Melting of the Artic, Antarctic and the world’s glaciers is probably unstoppable, and scientists now fear the time bomb of thawing permafrost, which would be the last straw in igniting a vicious cycle of out-of-control warming.
Virgin Earth Challenge
In 2007, Sir Richard Branson launched the Virgin Earth Challenge, offering $25 million for the best geoengineering solution.
The winning technology – which they haven’t come across yet – must be able to remove 1 billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere a year for a decade, and must make economic sense, along with other criteria.
11 finalists have been chosen, however.
The Biochar Company (based in Pennsylvania) bakes wood waste from lumber mills at high temperatures to produce a super-charged compost that’s added to soil. It improves soil structure so much that it absorbs carbon for hundreds or even thousands of years. 1.5 pounds of carbon are sequestered for every pound of biochar blended into soil.
Netherlands-based Smart Stones is working with an abundant mineral, olivine, that absorbs a lot of carbon. Researchers want to see it scattered all over the place, so that it keeps up with emissions.
Zurich-based Climeworks is developing mobile systems that capture carbon from the air which can then be used in various products.
Carbon Engineering does the same thing but with stationery structures. They broke ground on a full end-to-end demonstration plant this year in British Columbia, that will scrub carbon from the atmosphere. The next step is a commercial plant which will put the carbon to use in biofuels. The major impediment is the lack of a carbon tax, which is the key to opening commercial markets.
Read our article, Geoengineering Solutions Getting Closer, Gates, Branson Funding Them.
Learn about the other finalists: