Alternatives to Geoengineering do exist!!!
The fifth report of the IPCC WGI (December 2013) mentions climate geoengineering
(on page 29), but geoengineering is controversial.
One paper, recently published by a Sino-French research team, as an open source paper http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2013.12.032
presents new ideas and new opportunities to Fight Global Warming. The paper is about environmental issues and breakthrough, sustainable renewable energies
The recent publication (April 2014) of the WG3 mitigation report of IPCC, http://mitigation2014.org/report/final-draft/
concentrates in mitigations strategies to fight climate change.
This publication is interesting as it proposes several new mitigation strategies http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364032113008460
As the paper is quite long, so to give a very brief overview of it, here is a short summary.
Many papers, reports and books have been written about "geoengineering" => which is presented as: “a plan B to cool the Earth in case mitigation and adaptation strategies fail”.
Solar Radiation Management (geoengineering) is questionable, presents risks and poses ethical questions and governance problems.
We propose Earth Radiation Management instead (including atmospheric convection enhancement and increasing outgoing IR heat radiation), and these methods are not geoengineering but mitigation strategies.
A short (5 min) presentation can be listen at: http://audioslides.elsevier.com//ViewerLarge.aspx?source=1&doi=10.1016/j.rser.2013.12.032
On the one hand:
* Geoengineering is controversial and poses enormous problems of governance and ethics;
* Proposals for solar radiation management (SRM) are often regarded by the public as "playing the sorcerer's apprentice ", or “playing God”;
* SRM acts as an “umbrella” to decrease the solar radiation (short wave radiation) that reaches the Earth surface;
* But the global warming caused to greenhouse gases (GHGs) is attributable to the Infra Red radiation (LW long wave radiation) …
* It is difficult to compensate for an excess of Long wave radiation (IR) at the planet surface by reducing Short wave solar radiation in the stratosphere, as geoengineering does…
* SRM would "save time", but does not help to stop CO2 emissions and does not solve the problem of ocean acidification.
* SRM will cost money every year, and SRM must be maintained for 100 or 200 years… One of the numerous problems with geoengineering is that once you start, you can't really stop!
Atmospheric Convection Enhancement is part of Earth Radiation Management strategies ERM (different from Solar Radiation Management SRM)
On the other hand, the main ideas we have developed in our paper are the following:
* The GHGs act on the Planet as a continuous insulation (at global level), that would be too much effective and too efficient. In a building, usually when insulation is ineffective, one must try to find and reduce the thermal bridges (acting by thermal conduction). In the case of the planet, as it is the opposite, why not create thermal bridges (acting by thermal radiation) to make the insulation by GHGs less effective? We can cool the Planet if therefore we can make thermal shortcuts between the surface of the Earth and the upper atmosphere to increase the amount of IR that leaves Gaia to the outer space. We called it Earth radiation management (ERM) by analogy to SRM.
* For this purpose we propose to develop "unusual" renewable energies (see book: "21 unusual renewable energies for the 21st century" Denis Bonnelle, Ellipses Editions , ISBN-13: 9782729854072), as these are proven technologies and the science behind is strong.
* And these unusual renewable energies can, at the same time:
1. cool the planet by creating "thermal shortcuts" and atmospheric convection enhancement;
2. provide "carbon-free" electricity and therefore allow to gradually reduce the number of fossil power plants over the world;
3. therefore reduce CO2 emissions, gradually reduce and stop global warming, ocean acidification and rising sea levels…;
4. unlike the SRM which costs money every year and leaves the problem of GHGs as legacy to our grand-grandchildren, after the initial investment, the ERM would earn money, bring growth, jobs and allow our grandchildren by 2040 to have all the energy which 9 billion people living on the Planet will need.
Is this family of unusual renewable energies an Utopia? No, these breakthrough technologies are not utopias!
In Texas and in Arizona (USA) two of them (solar updraft chimney and downdraft energy tower) are at the stage of industrial development (prototypes have been tested two decades ago). In Canada a third one (AVE atmospheric vortex engine) found the necessary funding for its R & D. These 3 first technologies enhance atmospheric convection. The fourth (heat pipes) is an extremely popular technology and widely used in many industries. For the moment few studies have focused on giant installations, although for example about half million of two phase thermosiphons are used to prevent the permafrost from melting in Alaska, Siberia and Mongolia!
The 5th (radiative cooling by clear sky) could be developed rapidly at large scale, as materials and knowledge are available… (and a recent article in PNAS by a team from Harvard confirmed the interest of it: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/02/26/1402036111.short
A summary of the 5 technologies can be found on the following wikipedia pages:
* " http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_updraft_tower "
* " http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_tower_(downdraft) "
* " http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vortex_engine "
* " http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_pipe "
* " http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiative_cooling "
" Fighting global warming by climate engineering: Is the Earth radiation management and the solar radiation management any option for fighting climate change? "
Tingzhen Ming, Renaud de_Richter, Wei Liu and Sylvain Caillol
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2014, 31, 792–834. ( " http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2013.12.032 "
The best way to reduce global warming is, without any doubt, cutting down our anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases. But the world economy is addict to energy, which is mainly produced by fossil carbon fuels. As economic growth and increasing world population require more and more energy, we cannot stop using fossil fuels quickly, nor in a short term.
On the one hand, replacing this addiction with carbon dioxide-free renewable energies, and energy efficiency will be long, expensive and difficult. On the other hand, meanwhile effective solutions are developed (i.e. fusion energy), global warming can be alleviated by other methods.
Some geoengineering schemes propose solar radiation management technologies that modify terrestrial albedo or reflect incoming shortwave solar radiation back to space.
In this paper we analyze the physical and technical potential of several disrupting technologies that could combat climate change by enhancing outgoing longwave radiation and cooling down the Earth. The technologies proposed are power-generating systems that are able to transfer heat from the Earth surface to the upper layers of the troposphere and then to the space. The economical potential of some of these technologies is analyzed as they can at the same time produce renewable energy, thus reduce and prevent future greenhouse gases emissions, and also present a better societal acceptance comparatively to geoengineering.