Climate restoration

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The rise of global temperatures keeps accelerating since 1970

Climate restoration consists of a goal and associated actions intended to reverse the current trends of climate change [1] and, on some timescale and trajectory, to restore the Earth system [2] to a safe, sustainable and productive state, for the well-being of future generations and all humanity. Such actions include the carbon dioxide removal from the Carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere, which, in combination with emissions reductions, can reduce the level of CO
2
in the atmosphere and thereby reduce the global warming [3] produced by the greenhouse effect of an excess of CO
2
over its pre-industrial level. A main goal of the Foundation for Climate Restoration is the reduction of atmospheric CO
2
to below 300 ppm (i.e. near its pre-industrial level)[4] and refreezing the polar ice caps [5] by 2050.

Restoration and mitigation[edit]

Climate restoration is the goal underlying climate change mitigation,[6] whose actions are intended to “limit the magnitude or rate of long-term climate change”. Advocates of climate restoration accept that climate change has already had major negative impacts which threaten the long-term survival of humanity. The current mitigation pathway leaves the risk that conditions will go beyond adaptation and abrupt climate change [7] will be upon us. There is a human moral imperative to maximize the chances of future generations' survival. By promoting the vision of a “better future for our children and grandchildren”, with the Earth System restored to a state close to that in which our species and civilization evolved, advocates claim that there is a huge incentive for innovation and investment to ensure that this restoration takes place safely and in a timely fashion. As stated in "The Economist" in November 2017, "in any realistic scenario, emissions cannot be cut fast enough to keep the total stock of greenhouse gases sufficiently small to limit the rise in temperature successfully. But there is barely any public discussion of how to bring about the extra “negative emissions” needed to reduce the stock of CO
2
... Unless that changes, the promise of limiting the harm of climate change is almost certain to be broken."[8]

Climate restoration as a policy goal[edit]

A first peer-reviewed article about climate restoration was published in April 2018 by the Rand Corporation. [9] The analysis "examines climate restoration through the lens of risk management under conditions of deep uncertainty, exploring the technology, economic, and policy conditions under which it might be possible to achieve various climate restoration goals and the conditions under which society might be better off with (rather than without) a climate restoration goal." One key finding of the study is that it would be possible to restore the CO2 atmospheric concentrations to preindustrial levels at an acceptable cost under two scenarios, where greenhouse gas reductions and direct air capture (DAC)technologies prove to be economically efficient. One example is Carbon Engineering, a Canadian-based clean energy company focussing on the commercialization of Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology that captures carbon dioxide (CO2) directly from the atmosphere.

One key recommendation of the Rand Corporation study is that an ambitious climate restoration goal may seek to achieve preindustrial concentration by 2075, or by the end of the century. It concludes that "The best we can do is pursue climate restoration with a passion while embedding it in a process of testing, experimentation, correction, and discovery."

On September 25, 2018, Rep. Jamie Raskin introduced a resolution on Climate Restoration to the U.S House Committee of Energy and Commerce, concluding with "Whereas scientists have researched methods for keeping warming below 2° C, but have not yet researched the best methods to remove all excess CO2, stop sea-level rise, and restore a safe and healthy climate for future generations; and Whereas declaring a goal of restoring a safe and healthy climate will encourage scientists to research the most effective ways to restore safe CO2 levels, stop sea-level rise, and restore a safe and healthy climate for future generations." This was followed by the Congressional Climate Emergency Resolutions (S.Con.Res.22, H.Con.Res.52) which “demands a national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization of the resources and labor of the United States at a massive-scale to halt, reverse, mitigate, and prepare for the consequences of the climate emergency and to restore the climate for future generations....” [10] [11]

The committee's logo, showing a silhouette of the Capitol dome before a warming stripes graphic depicting annual global temperature rise.[12]


Critical parameters[edit]

The endpoint goal of climate restoration is to generally maximize the probability of survival of our species and civilization by restoring two critical climate parameters: Atmospheric CO2 levels and Arctic ice cover. The approximate target levels are those of the Holocene norm in which our species and civilization most recently evolved. That is stated technically as "pre-industrial", or poetically as "like our grandparents had a hundred years ago". Numerically the goal is stated as getting atmospheric CO2 back below 300 ppm and restoring multi-year ice to the Siberian Arctic by 2050. Achieving this will require removing approximately a trillion tonnes of atmospheric CO2, and restoring permanent ice cover in the critical Siberian Arctic Sea to prevent methane emissions from melting permafrost.

Critical parameters of the Earth System include:

One of the principal goals for climate restoration is to bring the CO
2
level down from current level of ~405 ppm (2016) towards its pre-industrial level of ~280 ppm. Not only will this reduce CO
2
’s global warming effect but also its effect on ocean acidification. The removed carbon would be sequestered or used as a construction material.

Limitations[edit]

However, not every aspect of the Earth System can be returned to a previous state: notably the warming of the deep sea or deep ocean and the associated sea level rise which has already taken place may be essentially irreversible this century. Conversely, there are certain aspects of the Earth System that need to be improved with respect to the recent past: notably food productivity, considering an increased global population by 2050 or 2100.

References[edit]

  1. ^ America's Climate Choices: Panel on Advancing the Science of Climate Change; National Research Council (2010). Advancing the Science of Climate Change. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press. ISBN 0-309-14588-0. Archived from the original on 29 May 2014. (p1) ... there is a strong, credible body of evidence, based on multiple lines of research, documenting that climate is changing and that these changes are in large part caused by human activities. While much remains to be learned, the core phenomenon, scientific questions, and hypotheses have been examined thoroughly and have stood firm in the face of serious scientific debate and careful evaluation of alternative explanations. * * * (pp. 21–22) Some scientific conclusions or theories have been so thoroughly examined and tested, and supported by so many independent observations and results, that their likelihood of subsequently being found to be wrong is vanishingly small. Such conclusions and theories are then regarded as settled facts. This is the case for the conclusions that the Earth system is warming and that much of this global warming is very likely due to human activities.
  2. ^ Cockell, Charles. An Introduction to the Earth-Life System. Cambridge University Press.
  3. ^ Gillis, Justin (2015-11-28). "Short Answers to Hard Questions About Climate Change". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-08-07.
  4. ^ "Foundation for Climate Restoration Announces Global Launch- 300 ppm by 2050". https://www.globenewswire.com/. External link in |website= (help)
  5. ^ Hunt, Hugh. "Refreezing the Arctic". Cambridge University Press.
  6. ^ "Global Status of BECCS Projects 2010". Biorecro and The Global Carbon Capture and Storage institute. 2011. Archived from the original on 2013-09-28. Retrieved 2011-09-10.
  7. ^ Committee on Abrupt Climate Change, Ocean Studies Board, Polar Research Board, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Division on Earth and Life Studies, National Research Council. (2002). Abrupt climate change : inevitable surprises. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. p. 108. ISBN 0-309-07434-7.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  8. ^ "What they don't tell you about climate change".
  9. ^ Robert J. Lempert, Giacomo Marangoni, Klaus Keller, Jessica Duke. "Is Climate Restoration an appropriate policy goal?". Rand Corporation.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ "Expressing the sense of Congress that the United States is committed to ensuring a safe and healthy climate for future generations, and to creating solutions for restoring the climate".
  11. ^ "Expressing the sense of Congress that there is a climate emergency".
  12. ^ "United States House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis / About". United States House of Representatives. 2019. Archived from the original on April 2, 2019. Crediting Shawna Faison and House Creative Services.
  13. ^ "Climate Change Indicators in the United States: Sea level". United States Environmental Protection Agency. May 2014.
  14. ^ Matt, William. "It might be possible to refreeze the ice caps to slow global warming". Phys.org.