Future Tech

Could a “techno-fix” be the answer to global warming?

0 Comments 14 July 2011

The idea of a techno-fix as a way to cool the planet caught my attention last week, after reading a story in the Guardian about geo-engineering.

The title of that Guardian piece, Geo-engineering: green versus greed in the race to cool the planet, took me back to 2009, when I was deciding what to call my first novel. My publisher and I settled upon The Human Race, but two of the main contenders for the title were Greed and Greed V Green. Why? Because the central themes of the book are mankind’s greed, the impact this greed has had on the human race and planet Earth, and the question, can we successfully remain on the planet in spite of our poor green credentials?

The piece also references the Anthropocene era, the subject of one of my recent posts. Taken at its most literal, the term means “the recent age of man”. It was coined in 2000 by Paul Crutzen, an atmospheric chemist. His argument is that we have entered another age, shaped and dominated primarily by people. Many believe that mankind should therefore use this new supremacy to directly intervene where necessary, to try to return the Earth back to the conditions that best suit its continued dominance of the planet. (You can find my thoughts about this here.)

The Guardian describes such interventions as techno-fixes. A techno-fix can fall into one of two camps: it can be used either to reduce global warming or to cool the planet.

I rather like the phrase and I suspect that Uma from The Human Race would also. After all, she has the mother of all techno-fixes, which can be used to slash carbon emissions, at her disposal! Of course, her so-called techno-fix is pure science-fiction, but then again it is no more far-fetched than some of the other techno-fixes that are suggested in the Guardian piece, including:

  • absorbing plankton
  • growing artificial trees
  • firing silver iodide into clouds to produce rain
  • genetically engineering crops to be paler in colour, to reflect sunlight back to space
  • fertilising the ocean with iron nano-particles to increase phytoplankton
  • blasting sulphate-based aerosols into the stratosphere to deflect sunlight
  • covering the desert with white plastic to reflect sunlight
  • painting cities and roads white.

So the discovery in The Human Race might not be so unrealistic after all!

Other techno-fix options outlined by the Guardian are even more outlandish. They include “launching a fleet of unmanned ships to spray seawater into the atmosphere to thicken clouds and thus reflect more radiation from Earth”.

One of the most bizarre techno-fix ideas involves “firing trillions of tiny mirrors into space to form a 100,000-mile ‘sunshade’ for Earth”.

However, the techno-fix that tops this truly strange list is “for an artificial mini-volcano to spew sulphates into the atmosphere to block sunlight and lower temperatures.”

Some of these techno-fixes sound preposterous; others, less so. What’s clear is that direct intervention to manipulate our climate is a concept that we all need to get used to. For many that is sure to be a scary thought, but so is continuing as we are.

We are effectively caught between action and inaction. Both offer an uncertain future and in essence, we have nothing to lose by trying.

What do you think of the idea of the techno-fix?

Can you think of any others?

This post was selected for the July 2011 edition of Everything Home Blog Carnival, hosted by My DIY Home Tips.

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Reviews of The Human Race

Unputdownable. Yes, I know it's not a word, but it definitely applies here, anyway. That's the word I'm going with, to describe The Human Race by O.C. Heaton. - Hira N. Hasnain

An outstanding first novel from O.C. Heaton that catapults him into the Best Seller league… - Justine Bond

"This is an exciting, fast-paced read. The Human Race is a book that is very easy to forget to put down. Bring on part two!" - L. H. Bowers

"If you are looking for a well-plotted and well-written thriller to while away the hours of a long flight, this offering might suit you very well." - David Bryson, Amazon Top 50 Reviewer

For further reviews of The Human Race by O.C. Heaton click here.

Author Bio

Charles Heaton British thriller writer O.C. Heaton, author of The Human Race, is fascinated by the past, present and future of human evolution. (Image credit: Ross Parry Agency) Read More>>

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The BeachThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-timeLife of PiOuter DarkThe FirmAlexander 3: The Ends of the Earth: A Novel

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