Desperate measures

Any idea what this image depicts? A world in which geoengineering is used to counter climate change. Several radical approaches are being considered, among them the refreezing of Earth's poles and removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

Cambridge scientists are creating a research centre to examine new ways to repair the Earth's climate on the back of fears that current approaches will not on their own stop dangerous and irreversible damage to the planet.

Illustrated above is one of the most promising ideas for refreezing the poles by to brightening the clouds above by pumping seawater up to tall masts on un-crewed ships through very fine nozzles.

The process produces tiny particles of salt which are injected into the clouds, which makes them more widespread and reflective, and so cool the areas below them.

The initiative is co-ordinated by the government's former chief scientific adviser, Prof Sir David King who warns "What we do over the next 10 years will determine the future of humanity for the next 10,000 years. There is no major centre in the world that would be focused on this one big issue,"

Elsewhere there is a focus on interventionist solutions to fix coral reefs, ecosystem that are under threat and will be dead by the end of the century.

Options include mixing chemicals into seawater to reduce acidity and to genetically engineer heat-resistant coral.

Researchers at another university have banded with a manufacturer that is trialing a carbon capture and utilisation pilot scheme to recycle the CO2 into fuel by converting the firm's carbon emissions into fuel using the plant's waste heat.

The lead professor says with a source of hydrogen, a source of carbon dioxide and a source of heat there is a source of renewable electricity from the plant.

These can all be harnessed and converted into synthetic fuels.

Winter Smart Energy takes a closer look at the concept of geoengineering and some of the ‘out there’ schemes being contemplated. Of course prevention is generally better than cure however we are past the tipping point.