Social and Environmental Issues on Carbon Dioxide Removal, Research Paper Example
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The current world order revolves around climate change and the several triggers that bring up the changes. Generally, the climate around the world is shifting with a current inclination on the increase of the world temperature by 1.5 degrees Celsius. It would be engaging to generate the original temperature maintained by the world before various technological inventions. Still, the temperatures were slightly lower than the prevailing temperature (Dooley et al., 2021). Since human beings find it hard to adapt to new environs and rather choose to adapt their environs to suit their prevailing needs, the complications of the various adaptions derived from the environment generate a compound climatic problem (Morrow et al., 2020). Solutions to such climatic problems, such as removing carbon dioxide from the environment, draw social and environmental justice issues.
The removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as a new and prudent way of curing global warming has drawn the attention of various issues involved with the identified method. The background of global warming or rather climatic change that has brought up an increase in the global temperature by 1.5 degrees Celsius is majorly based on the heavy release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The industrial revolution age, i.e., the 18th and 19th centuries, led to the discovery of fossil fuels on the earth (Dooley and Kartha, 2018). After some time, the machinery deployed to use the fuels improved efficiency, thus demanding a greater reserve of the particular fuels. This is seen in the invention of automotive and various industries used to manufacture and process various essential goods in the world. However, the release of carbon dioxide as a by-product of the various combustion reactions poses a great climatic danger. The gas forms a blanket in the atmosphere that traps terrestrial radiation, which causes a warming effect on the earth. Therefore, the effects of excessive carbon dioxide on the atmosphere have called for the invention of reversal methods such as carbon dioxide removal.
Carbon dioxide removal, also known as negative emissions, is a proposed method of combating the primary source of climate change. There are various sources of carbon dioxide in the environment. The gas is quite useful in maintaining gaseous balance in the atmosphere, especially in the case of the balance of oxygen through photosynthesis in green plants (Field and Mach, 2017). However, the human actions leading to carbon dioxide release to the atmosphere are on the rise, and hence the method of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere aims to reduce if not completely deplete carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to curb the climate change of the huge release of the gas the air. The removal of carbon dioxide entails capturing the gas from the air and storing it under the ocean.
Costs and potential are often the focus of CDR assessments, with little consideration devoted to limitations and repercussions. According to the IPCC, few studies have directly studied the consequences of predicted land-based CDR on the ecosystem and land degradation (IPCC, 2019). Even fewer studies take into account the consequences on marine ecosystems. Examining the deployment dynamics of large-scale CDR in a risk-management framework remains a research requirement (Schenuit et al., 2021). A study identifying CDR solutions with the least negative impact on biodiversity might help prioritize further development and deployment of those solutions following the no regret principles.
Proponents say that removing CO2 pollution and storing it underground or in other reservoirs has the same impact on combating climate change as avoiding an equivalent quantity of CO2 from being released. However, according to David, R., approximately 20–40% of yearly greenhouse gas emissions currently originate from activities such as agriculture and transportation, which will be incredibly difficult to eradicate over the next several decades (Cox et al., 2020). In addition, David highlights that there are significant technological barriers to decarbonizing these industries and societal obstacles. For example, not only are flying, driving, and meat consumption likely to increase in affluent countries over the next several decades, but the pace of increase will be significantly larger in developing countries, as billions of people’s earnings rise.
This particular research was based on an evaluation of information published on the topic of carbon dioxide removal. This topic has different articles which have generally brought up a variety of issues on the ethics and the social justice of CDR. The literature includes papers on geoengineering, negative emissions, principles on carbon dioxide emissions, among others. Therefore, the major analysis was based on knowing the tenets of the topic and the social input of the topic.
The purposeful large-scale alteration of the planetary environment to offset anthropogenic climate change is a prominent modern definition of geoengineering. The Royal Society Report of 2009 made a definitive difference between approaches that aim to treat global warming by lowering atmospheric carbon dioxide (carbon dioxide removal, CDR) and alleviating warming signs by reflecting sunlight (solar radiation management, SRM) (Geden et al., 2019). Afforestation increased ocean fertilization, liming the seas, direct carbon dioxide capture, large-scale production of synthetic algae, rock weathering and are all examples of CDR.
Because CDR (e.g., direct air capture) is scalable and sounds a lot like pollution management, it’s easy to think of it as less ethically objectionable than SRM. Furthermore, because certain kinds of CDR (e.g., afforestation, faster phytoplankton blooms) appear to replicate or augment existing natural processes, public opinion of CDR is initially more positive than that of less “natural” technologies like stratospheric aerosols or space mirrors (Keller et al., 2018). Finally, ACCORDING TO THE ROYAL SOCIETY REPORT, ‘CDR approaches provide a longer-term strategy to tackling climate change than SRM procedures and typically have fewer uncertainties and hazards.
Those concerned about the environmental effect of large-scale CDR technology have questioned this preference for CDR. Proponents of stratospheric aerosols have also pointed out that, despite its flaws, SRM is still ‘quick,’ ‘effective,’ and ‘cheap,’ taking just weeks rather than decades to have an impact (Heck et al., 2018). Moreover, they say that it is the only geoengineering approach that has been seen in operation so far (after previous volcanic eruptions). If geoengineering were used in the face of a sudden climatic catastrophe—a scenario that some belief would be the only one suitable for implementation—some global albedo alteration would almost probably be necessary, notwithstanding the hazards.
With any global technology, the objective of implementing a just governance procedure is, of course, a huge problem. The challenges to successful climate governance are predicted to be amplified in geoengineering, where divergence between various countries’ interests is expected to grow over time. First, however, the many participants’ interests must be considered. Both SRM and CDR, as David Keith has pointed out, are fundamentally engineering technologies (Colvin et al., 2020). Engineers work with clients who have a wide range of goals and needs. Geoengineers require stakeholder participation. Balancing the divergent interests of over seven billion stakeholders, on the other hand, is a near-impossible endeavor. There is no chance of any conventional type of agreement because these interests reach far into the future and encompass the interests of non-human nature.
The danger that climatic consequences happening during the concentration overshoot would be permanent is another reason that negative emissions may be less effective than projected. Peak warming is known to be higher for a given quantity of total cumulative emissions for a path that overshoots before negative releases start to lower concentrations (Carton, 2019). The highest warming is caused by time-integrated radiative compelling. Maximum cumulative concentrations determine it (before rem The bigger the climatic implications, the higher the peak temperature, which “increases the likelihood of breaching ‘dangerous’ warming thresholds.” Zickfeld and Tokarska (2015) The danger of breaching thresholds associated with sea ice, glaciers, ice sheets, and permafrost (ICCI 2015) is particularly worrying since it might create a positive feedback mechanism that leads to even more warming (Pozo et al., 2020). The likelihood of long-term consequences increases in direct proportion to the amount and duration of concentration overshoot. Ovals) rather than overall average emissions.
The CDR technologies fostered to cater for negative emissions present various environmental and social justice issues. It is undeniable that the comprehensive benefit of investing in this technology is removing the targeted amount of carbon dioxide. This action will help in the resuscitation of the earth’s temperature from the current steady rise (Honegger et al., 2021). However, the focus on the positive side of the technologies in place to carry out the task at hand may lead to an overlook of a variety of problems affecting human beings around the issue of climate change.
A random assessment of various economies in the world points out a deeper issue than the investment in carbon dioxide removal. Several economies/countries are suffering from common social justice issues such as hunger and food insecurity. In most of these countries, food insecurity is brought about by drought and conflict, two persistent factors that deter the production of food (Lenzi, 2018). Drought is mainly attributed to climatic conditions and, to some extent, the global increase in temperature. On the other hand, conflict is brought about by differences in various policies contained in a country, such as negative emissions that may result in poor or no production of food.
Ethically, investments in negative emissions should be redirected to solve most of the prevailing social problems before any capital is cast on averting a natural cause of events brought about by human actions. However, the amount of carbon dioxide in the environment increases due to various factors such as industrial action and, most essentially, the burning of fossil fuels (Markusson et al., 2018). Therefore, it is wise to redirect investments to improve technologies associated with negative emissions to the solution of food insecurity since investment in food production will result in a comprehensive collective benefit to the environment (Levi and Patz, 2015). Furthermore, investment in food production will increase the vegetation cover on the earth. The vegetation introduced will benefit the planet in combating the battle against temperature by removing carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. Therefore, the current investment choice in negative emissions presents the social justice issue of hunger and food security, which remain unsolved. Yet, the focus is cast on different aspects.
In addition to the above social justice issue, carbon dioxide removal has various arguments concerning its comprehensive general effectiveness. In the history of the earth, the balance of nature has been consistent, especially in the case of gases such as oxygen and carbon dioxide, which are yet to present a sign of depletion after ages of continuous usage. Therefore, a safe assumption is that the method of negative emissions has not been tested or used to solve any climatic change problem over history due to the proper balance of nature (Minx et al., 2018). However, with the current industrial and technological age, the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere has led to a great shift in the planet’s temperatures. Therefore, the big question is, how safe is the carbon dioxide removal method in sustaining the atmosphere?
Another random assumption is the positive success of negative emissions in cleaning the atmosphere from carbon dioxide, which would be the safest way of storing the largest volume of gas harnessed from all over the globe to ensure zero leakage and have a normal climate change in the world? Nature has the balance, just as seen in the composition of air from nitrogen to oxygen-carbon dioxide and other gases (Morrow et al., 2018). The balance maintained by the atmosphere can be assumed to create enough room if a certain gas is highly released into the atmosphere. Therefore, critical thought on how the CDR would be conducted results in conclusions such as the expected effects of the established results of the method?
From various points of view, faults on negative emissions, i.e., artificial negative emission, include leakages. For such a huge project, the capital required to establish the infrastructure required for storing the gas is high. The investment needs to cater to safeguarding options such as securing the project from possible leakages in the system to ensure the reversed effect does not occur. In addition to this, there is induced seismicity on the earth (Anderson and Peters, 2016). The main storage option considered for this gas is under the ocean. Adding the weight from billion gallons of air to the ocean floor will disturb the equilibrium maintained on the earth. Upon the disturbance of this stable equilibrium, earthquakes and other events resulting from seismic action are inevitable, and the consequences are dire.
Critically evaluating this option of negative emissions as a solution to the current carbon dioxide problem points out several loopholes that should be considered while actualizing the project. The effects of the failure or actualization of the project are unknown but potentially dangerous. A sudden decrease in the carbon dioxide levels in the global atmosphere may result in the death of vegetation worldwide (Carton et al., 2020). This is because of the deprivation of an essential product of the plant food formation process ‘photosynthesizes. Therefore, an analysis of the issues around the project is crucial before the actualization of the project at hand due to the variety of risks associated with the issue involved.
In conclusion, carbon dioxide removal has been an existent method of removing carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere as done by plants in the action of photosynthesis. However, the general human action involving industrialization has led to a great release of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, which has resulted in the formation of a blanket in the atmosphere that traps heat, thus causing a climatic change in the atmosphere. Therefore, the natural method of controlling the gas is in play. Still, the various effects of human beings include reducing vegetation cover, thus calling for the invention of alternative solutions to the prevailing problem. Therefore, the problems presented by the new method call for the shift in various actions undertaken in the world, especially the type and amount of energy required for various industrial actions. Therefore, to solve the various problems that arise from the artificial negative emissions and inculcation of the old methods of controlling the gas.
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