Log In

Enter your username and password below

“Earth Hackers” Adopt Radical Methods to Stop Climate Change

Louis BaseneseClimate change is one of the hottest debates in the world right now.

As you know, an overwhelming majority of the scientific community agrees that humans are affecting climate.

And here in the United States, several key members of the Trump administration — including the new Environmental Protection Agency chief, Scott Pruitt — doubt the veracity of the “science.”

We’re not picking sides today. But either way, the stage is set for an epic showdown.

And as senior analyst Jonathan Rodriguez reveals below, the methods to “fix” climate change are even more controversial than the science itself.

Ahead of the Tape,

Louis Basenese
Chief Investment Strategist, Wall Street Daily

Drastic Times… Drastic Measures

Jonathan RodriguezWhether it’s the result of human activities or part of a natural cycle, there’s little question that surface temperatures around the world are going up.

What is up for debate, though, is how to deal with it.

The most touted method of slowing down rising temperatures is to reduce the amount of global carbon emissions.

As you may know, biological decomposition emits carbon naturally. Carbon is also released as we burn fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas.

And many governments worldwide enforce greenhouse gas reduction by discouraging fossil fuel burning through taxation and policy.

The problem is much of the world relies on these fuels for the majority of their power needs. Not to mention, the energy sector makes up a large slice of global GDP.

In other words, reducing carbon in this manner won’t be quick or easy.

So to rapidly decelerate climate change, some scientists are turning to even more drastic measures: hacking the planet.

Methods of Madness

The field of geoengineering aims to alter the Earth’s environment on purpose to reverse global warming.

Researchers in this field are split into two camps…

Geoengineering Method #1: Deflecting Solar Rays 

The first camp believes that solar radiation management (SRM) — or deflecting sunlight — is the key to fixing climate change.

One of the most popular SRM techniques involves cloud creation to block the sun.

Scientists propose pumping sulfate aerosols into the atmosphere to stimulate deep, dark cloud cover. As you may know, these are the same chemicals that volcanoes release into the air when they erupt.

This geoengineering method is one of the most cost-effective, according to researchers.

Harvard professor of applied physics David Keith estimates that it would cost $700 million annually to deliver 250,000 metric tons of sulfuric acid into the atmosphere.

The downside risk is that these chemicals could eat away at an already depleted ozone layer.

Not to mention that weather patterns could be drastically affected around the world — in ways computers can’t accurately predict. (Imagine, for instance, a nuclear winter with no end in sight.)

SRM researchers have also suggested launching a massive array of satellites equipped with mirrors into space to reflect sunlight away from Earth. Or using a giant lens to refract light around the planet.

These applications are presently too costly to implement now but represent the wide range of SRM possibilities.

Geoengineering Method #2: Death by Plankton 

The other camp of climate hacking researchers are working on methods of capturing greenhouse gases.

One popular yet controversial strategy is iron fertilization. That is, boosting the levels of iron in the ocean to stimulate the growth of plankton.

These oceanic organisms use photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide into food and shelter. And as plankton die, they fall to the bottom of the ocean – hopefully, trapping carbon dioxide there for centuries.

Just fertilizing 2% of the Southern Ocean could reduce world temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius, according to Oliver Wingenter of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.

But as with many SRM methodologies, scientists aren’t sure of its long-term effects on weather patterns. And the United Nations has limited testing out of fear of ocean toxicity.

To the Victor Go the Bio-Hacking Spoils

Now, geoengineering isn’t new. Scientists have been experimenting with altering climate change since the 1970s.

But today’s technological advances have made climate hacking not only more cost-effective but much more feasible.

And although these emerging technologies are still being tested and studied for scalability, geoengineering represents a potentially lucrative tech front.

And if geoengineers can convince the world that their methods are safe and figure out how to implement solutions cheaply, the financial windfalls could be enormous.

We’ll track the situation closely for any potential ways to profit.

On the hunt,

Jonathan Rodriguez
Senior Analyst, Wall Street Daily