As with all arguments of a scientific nature, it depends on who you listen to. Only in this case, both sides can be found as having emerged, more or less, from the same source.
New research suggests that, without Geo-engineering on a massive scale, global warming will be irreversible. In spite of our efforts, it is not enough for us to switch to carbon neutral practices, we’ll have to remove massive quantities of carbon dioxide from the earth’s atmosphere if we wish to tackle climate change.
Initiatives for doing so include soot reduction, iron fertilization of the oceans, and carbon capturing, which often entails the introduction of trees and other plants to offset CO2 emissions. Alternately, solar radiation management remains a popular choice, wherein roofs and even roads are painted either white or other pale shades to reduce solar heat absorption.
A bit less prolific is the creation of bio-char. Though expensive, it is a promising substance with which we could mix soil to make black, fertile earth known as Terra preta. This has the additional benefit of improving topsoil, which can aid agriculture and help to alleviate soil degradation.
Without these and other extensive measures, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) expects sea levels to rise 1 meter. This is double their 2007 prediction.
But before we find ourselves in a panic, let us also evaluate another recent study (also derived from IPCC findings), which suggests a significant chill in the climate. This global cooling has resulted in a 60 percent growth of ice-covered ocean in the Arctic, encompassing over a million square miles worth of Arctic seas, which had previously been expected to melt by 2013.
Some experts hypothesize that temperatures will continue to decrease, bringing a close to the heat elevation of the 1980s and 90s.
So are we to face an ice age in the near future? Perhaps not. Though most scientists believe it will depend on carbon trends. US climate expert, Professor Judith Curry, however, attributes climate change not to carbon emissions so much as to ocean temperatures.
Whether or not this globe will become an icy sphere or consumed fully by aquatic bodies, it is certain that we must confront climate change as a social issue defined by environmental elements, not the other way around. As the climate is actively persistent in our cultural entanglements, we’ll have to address all sectors of our complex societal system if we wish to attain stability, such as those of a socio-ecological nature that bind human welfare and ecosystems with political ecology and global economies.
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