Hope on the Horizon for Global Warming?

A+design+idea+for+the+%22treepods%22+in+Boston.+Courtesy+of+ShiftBoston.org
A design idea for the

A design idea for the "treepods" in Boston. Courtesy of ShiftBoston.org

A design idea for the "treepods" in Boston. Courtesy of ShiftBoston.org

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Global warming is more than just a phrase used by scientists to describe the rise in temperature, it’s a global phenomenon that effects everyone and everything. If global temperatures keep increasing, the world as we know it could become unrecognizable in 10 to 15 years. There are many dangers associated with climate change like drastic water level increase, species extinction, extreme weather, glacial ice reduction, and higher temperatures. Is there some way to outrun the tsunami of problems before it’s too late?

Luckily, scientists are already one step ahead of the population. One of the main causes of global warming is excessive carbon dioxide emissions, so scientists set out to fix that. But after repeatedly telling people the dangers that too much carbon dioxide poses, the levels rose more than ever.

Ninth grade student Jessica Bujak said that “the problem will keep growing until something bad happens and that’s when people start to wake up.” Unfortunately, scientists do not have that kind of time and had to take matters into their own hands.

So what did they do? They came up with an idea that has a chance of making a difference: a human-made tree that sucks mass amounts of carbon dioxide out of the air. The tree would work by using a sail (or the “leaves”) that grabs the carbon dioxide. It would then bind to the plastic of the “leaves”, a seal that can only be broken by using water. The carbon dioxide would be delivered to a facility that would either store it for later use or make products like building supplies, clothes, electronics, cars, and other factory built goods.

Trevor Algatt from CNN said this could “return our atmospheric carbon to pre-industrial levels within a decade…..if implemented on a large enough scale.” Not only would it reduce emissions drastically in a span of just ten years, but the time it would take to do so could be only a month. Scientists will announce this theory at the next United Nations meeting in November or December. These trees could start to pop up around Boston first, and if they are successful, in other big cities all around the United States.

As Algatt said, there is some “if”’ involved with this theory. Number one: It has not yet been tested at a full scale. The only testing that has been conducted is in greenhouses, where a couple of prototypes feed the plants by transferring the carbon dioxide to the plants.

Number two: geologists think reducing carbon dioxide out of the air is moving the focus away from the main problem, which is getting rid of fossil fuels. While carbon dioxide emissions are a problem, fossil fuel usage is an even greater problem.

Bill McKibben, environmental journalist and 350.org founder said in an interview from CNN, “We’re at that moment when we could make change, and geoengineering gets in the way of that change.” However, many solutions have already been created to reduce fossil fuel usage like electric cars, solar panels, hydroelectric dams, and wind turbines. There are no solutions to reduce carbon dioxide emissions rather than regulations on industrial production, making it a worse problem than fossil fuels.

Number three: this system is costly. Some people do not understand how much carbon dioxide the average person puts out in a year. A car produces a pound of carbon dioxide per mile, so the average car produces 15 tons of carbon dioxide a year. To eliminate all of that emission for the 7.3 billion people in the world, it would cost more money than anyone could imagine. Plus, there are limits to how much carbon dioxide could be stored; with this large scale of an operation, would there even be enough room to store that much?

One geologist named Donald Penman from Yale University said, “The simplest place to put it is at the bottom of the ocean…you have to be worried about unforeseen side effects. It’s fiddling with the knobs in the climate system. You might be opening Pandora’s box.”

With all this in mind and the climate fluctuating in many different directions, the world needs to find a way to control it before all the leaves blow off the trees.

 

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Hope on the Horizon for Global Warming?