The Paris Agreement, signed by 193 countries, is the most significant climate change initiative to be ever undertaken by the world. Unfortunately, measures ratified by the signatories won’t be enough to stop us from crossing the 2-degree threshold, forcing climate change experts to push for a radical strategy.
Earlier this month, Paris celebrated the first anniversary of this iconic agreement by illuminating the Eiffel Tower, in green. People irrespective of nationalities, shared a great deal of optimism across social media.
Governments came out with promising speeches. Messages of assurance reached people, explaining to them, how the Paris accord can effectively slow down climate change. No questions asked, satisfied with the answers, we continue with our lives.
What they don’t publicize, is that the Paris accord was simply, ‘not enough’. Sure, it was a remarkable global event. A cause, that brought nearly all of humanity’s representatives to the same table. But climate change scientists like Dr. James Kennett, Professor at the University of California, points out that there are deadly flaws in the agreement.
“It gives the impression that global warming is now being properly addressed when in fact the measures fall woefully short of what is needed to avoid runaway climate change,” explained Dr. Kennet.
On third page of the draft agreement, the document acknowledge’s that it’s measures cannot stabilize the intended goal of keeping temperature below 2 deg C, the level that was once set as the critical safe limit. What it really proposes, is to encourage conversation, so as to calculate a new carbon budget that can be talked about in 2020.
James Hansen, a former NASA scientist, and considered by many, as the father of global awareness of climate change, had this to say about the agreement, “It’s a fraud really, a fake.”
“There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.” he continued.
This pessimism, shared by many among the scientific community, is not uncalled for. The threat is real. World leaders have miserably failed, to bring about a meaningful resolution to climate change, while we had the chance.
In response to this failure, climate scientists are calling for a radical and experimental programme, called ‘geo-engineering‘, also known as, ‘climate engineering’. A deliberate and large-scale intervention in the Earth’s climatic system to keep temperature under check, long enough to initiate a massive emission control measure.
The idea is simple. But the consequences are severe and unpredictable. Yet, this is perhaps the only way, to save millions of lives and to secure our future.
Solar radiation management (SRM), is one among the proposed geo-engineering methods. The technology aims to reflect a percentage of sunlight back into space. This involves setting up reflective marine clouds and materials in deserts, as well as mimicking volcanic eruptions by emitting aerosols into the atmosphere.
“The only way that’s been suggested that might work is Marine cloud brightening (MCB),” said Professor Peter Wadhams, Head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at University of Cambridge. Marine Cloud Brightening is a form of geoengineering, where you inject very fine water particles into the bottom of low cloud, these particles evaporate and it makes them brighter which will reflect more solar radiation.
Professor Wadhams told The Independent: “If MCB could work, it could potentially offset global warming, but we need to try it first.” His book, ‘A Farewell to Ice: A Report from the Arctic’, documents his observations, about the terrifying degradation of ice plates.
Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) is another technique, involving CO2 extraction and storage which reduce greenhouse effects. The strategy proposes augmenting ocean disposal, ocean fertilisation, biochar production, and direct air capture.
The risks involved in both the above measures, might eventually damage our ozone layer, cause a gradual decrease of oxygen saturation in oceans, or worse, could trigger a devastating global climate destabilization.
After the full details of the Paris agreement was made public, in a letter to the Independent, a group of prominent scientists wrote, “The time for the wishful thinking and blind optimism that has characterized the debate on climate change is over. The time for hard facts and decisions is now.”
“Our backs are against the wall and we must now start the process of preparing for geo-engineering. We must do this in the knowledge that its chances of success are small and the risks of implementation are great.”