According to media reports, Cambridge University is planning to establish a Centre for Climate Repair which will investigate and set up demonstrations of radical approaches to reducing carbon emissions, approaches such as refreezing the Earth’s poles and removing CO2 from the atmosphere.
The Centre will be led by Emily Shuckburgh, who previously worked for the British Antarctic Survey, who is also director of the university’s Carbon Neutral Futures Initiative. She said the new centre’s mission would be to “solve the climate problem”.
The initiative is coordinated by the government’s former chief scientific adviser, Prof Sir David King. “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,” he told BBC News.
One idea is to pump seawater up to tall masts on remotely controlled ships through very fine nozzles. The effect would be to liberate salt particles which would make clouds more widespread and reflective, and cooling the areas below them and refreezing the poles.
Another idea is to fertilise the sea with iron salts which promote the growth of plankton so they can take up more CO2.
In the past such approaches, usually called geoengineering, were rejected as dangerous, potentially disrupting the ecosystem. But now the threat of damaging and potentially irreversible climate change is considered so severe that these engineering solutions must be considered.
Peter Wadhams, a professor of ocean physics at Cambridge University said “If we reduce our emissions all we are doing is making the global climate warmer a bit more slowly. That is no good because it’s already too warm and we have already got too much CO2 in the atmosphere. So climate repair can actually take it out of the atmosphere. We can get the level down below what it is now and actually cool the climate bringing it back to what it was before global warming.”