Could the Oceans Be Engineered to Reverse Climate Change?

Welcome to the world of geoengineering

Whitecaps on the ocean under a cloudy sky. The National Academy of Sciences is studying ways of geoengineering the oceans to thwart climate change.
What if a solution to climate change covered the bulk of the planet's surface?
Ant Rozetsky/Unsplash

The more data is released about the effects of climate change, both now and in the coming years, the more alarming the situation looks. And while there are certain steps that can be taken to mitigate the effects of climate change, from cutting fossil fuel use to decarbonizing transportation to eating less meat, even more dramatic steps might be necessary to avert catastrophe.

Which leads us to an intriguing potential solution: using the planet’s oceans to make a positive impact on climate change. How could that be accomplished? A new report at Gizmodo details a plan by the National Academy of Sciences to look into ways of using the oceans to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, a process called carbon removal. According to the report, this project has led to exploration of six different ways that this task could be accomplished.

The plans — each a form of geoengineering — are still relatively early along in the process; none of them are things that can be implemented overnight. Gizmodo’s report offers more details on all six, ranging from the relatively plausible — using iron fertilization to “encourage plankton blooms to suck up carbon” — to the more speculative. The latter category includes making oceans more alkaline and using machines to remove carbon from the ocean.

Further research is required for all of them; the last thing anyone wants, after all, is for climate change mitigation measures to have traumatic effects on marine life. But an ambitious plan (or plans) now could pay off dramatically in the near future, and for future generations.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.