This article is part of the 4sea project.
Most of us who care about the oceans know well the threats posed by climate change – of rising seas, disappearing coral reefs and changing circulation. Less well known, however, are the threats posed by our attempts to solve the climate crisis. In our efforts to curb the problems associated with the greenhouse effect, it is very possible that we could accidentally make them worse.
The prime suspect? A proposed ‘solution’ to the climate crisis known as geoengineering – the idea to meddle with environmental processes in an attempt to slow down climate change. This term covers a range of ideas, from making ecosystems take up more carbon from the air, to artificial cooling, to collecting and storing carbon dioxide to keep it out of the atmosphere. Unsurprisingly due to the ocean’s vital role in the climate system, most of these schemes either centre on altering aspects of the marine environment, or would be likely to cause large side effects.
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