This article is available also in spanish here

What is geoengineering and how can it be used to create resilient cities?

My list

Author | M. Martínez Euklidiadas

Geoengineering **may be a key urban tool to tackle the effects of climate change. It starts with **planting trees and ends with launching aerosols into the atmosphere to block solar radiation. Will we use geoengineering in our cities?

What is geoengineering or climate engineering?

Geoengineering is the manipulation of the Earth's systems through the use of technology. These systems are the land, the oceans and the atmosphere. Under this definition, it is not hard to understand that we have been interfering (often with no clear objective) these systems over various millennia.

Anthropogenic climate change, ocean acidification and the alteration of the nitrogen cycle confirm this. We even know that the Maya civilization managed to alter the atmosphere at the end of the 18th century or that preindustrial agriculture or deforestation (7,000 years ago) already significantly altered the atmospheric composition.

What is the aim of geoengineering?

That said, the current unacceptable level of air pollution is not deemed to be intentional, and therefore, it tends to be referred to as geoengineering. In fact, it is a term solely used as a 'solution' to environmental problems. There are two major types of geoengineering:

1. Carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere

The removal of carbon dioxide is a method via which CO2 is captured from the atmosphere and safely stored. Clearly, the best systems are charcoal sinks and coralline algae: plant trees in cities and limit ocean warming and acidification.

However, there are also artificial methods, which are much more basic and not too efficient yet, which have already managed to capture CO2. The problem with these methods is that they are extremely expensive and not very effective. Trees do a much better job, and for free. They keep cities cool and attract biodiversity.

geoengineering 2

2. Managing solar radiation

The use of giant mirrors to increase the surface albedo, blocking solar radiation with a space sunshade or altering (very slightly) the composition of the atmosphere are some examples of ways to reduce global warming. At the moment this climate engineering is barely used.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has, on numerous occasions, emphasized the need for more research to test these solutions on a planetary scale and the first and most effective solution is to stop emitting CO2 into the atmosphere. However, there are two problems: perhaps stopping gas emissions is not enough and experiments are not allowed.

Why is geoengineering not used on a large-scale?

There are two main reasons for geoengineering not being used. The first is related to lack of general knowledge among people, who are against any experiment. The second is related to lack of knowledge among the scientists themselves, since, it is impossible to establish objectives and scenario-based planning without being able to conduct these experiments.

Both are coherent fears since the atmosphere is not a linear system and it is extremely difficult to predict its behavior. We are seeing this with atmospheric CO2 levels: there are even fears that the heat absorbed by the planet may release methane, leading to self-induced global warming. Once a certain level of contamination is reached, the earth will 'contaminate' itself.

In 2021, the SCoPEx experiment was paused again, the project created in 2014 and headed by Harvard University, was intended to release small plumes of calcium carbonate into the atmosphere and then reflect a very small fraction of sunlight back into space. The project is expected to be reactivated in the coming months.

Images | ActionVance, Dele Oke

Related content

Recommended profiles for you

Remember to activate your profile to network!
Activate profile
Raul Edenburg
alqueria golf
director of expansion
Reza Goudarzi
Nosazi Abasabad Co.
Director for Intr'l. Affairs office
Marin Pavlic
Ponikve eko otok Krk
Quality manager
Michel Glemaud
Eduardo Cardoso
OneRF Networks
Laura Baronchelli Baronchelli
Bianca Dragomir
Clusters of Change
Esra Ok
Reyes Salinas González
Generalitat Valenciana
Technical project management
University of petroleum and energy studies
Telma Milani
Telma Milani
Brasformer Braspel Produtos Elétricos Ltda
Brasformer Braspel 47 years, transformers for measurements, protection CT PT 06 -36 kv
Klenert Sven
Department of Digital and Information Technology
Data Steward
Luis Eduardo Palomino
Luis Eduardo Palomino
Universidade do Contestado
Fernando Riv
Fernando Riv
dr Wojciech Blecharczyk
dr Wojciech Blecharczyk
WSEI Kraków, MPEC SA. Kraków
Smart City Expert - academic teatcher, comunal expert, ecologist
Harish Chaudhari
Smart System
Tech Director
Stanley Ochola
Stanley Ochola
Spectrum agronet
Albert Sales Castell
Ajuntament de Tiana
Energy Transition and Sustainability Area
Ministry of Regional Development
Director of the Regional Policy Department

Thank you for registering to Tomorrow.City. You can now start exploring from your computer, or with your phone or tablet downloading our app!
Only accessible for registered users
This content is available only for registered users
TO: $$toName$$
SUBJECT: Message from $$fromName$$