How Science Can Fix the Planet
Discover how science can help us save Earth from climate change and mass extinction.
Anyone aged 18 or over has lived through all 10 of the warmest years on record. And, by 2100, temperatures are expected to rise by around 3.2°C. Stats like these are worrying. We know that rising temperatures are killing coral reefs, causing desertification, whipping up super-storms and creating severe floods.
Some people are resigned to the dangers of this changing world. But others are looking for ways we can fight climate change. Former President Obama said in 2015: “More drought, more floods, rising sea levels… That’s one path we can take. The other path is to embrace the human ingenuity that can do something about it.”
Scientists around the world are researching techniques that could save Earth – from large-scale geoengineering projects to more modest inventions that will cut urban air pollution or allow us to keep the lights on while reducing carbon emissions.
The good news is that, when it comes to the crunch, we’re good at sorting out problems. Back in the 1970s, scientists realised that acid rain was eating away buildings and turning lakes into death traps for wildlife. The cause was mostly the sulphur dioxide being released by human activities. So changes were made. Today, cars have catalytic convertors fitted and power plants use ‘scrubber’ technology to reduce the amount of sulphur dioxide released into the atmosphere.
Another example of our ingenuity is how we’re dealing with the continent-sized hole in the ozone layer. After a 1974 paper and subsequent satellite data revealed the ozone-destroying effects of chlorofluorocarbons, CFCs were phased out under the 1987 Montreal Protocol. So it goes to show that we can make a difference when we set our minds to it.
The latest issue of the Focus Magazine Collection is packed with articles looking at the global problems facing us and what we can do to fix them to ensure the survival of Homo sapiensand all the other species we share this incredible planet with.
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