Target: Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Goal: Reject controversial climate change solutions that may have dangerous, unintended consequences
Climate change threatens coastal communities across the globe as sea temperatures climb and ocean levels rise. The effects on crops and other industry could be even more disruptive to human life. With such serious consequences now upon us, it is clear that solutions are necessary–and soon. But some ideas being considered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) could have disastrous effects of their own.
The United Nations created the IPCC and tasked it with providing comprehensive information on the potential impacts of climate change, and options available to help minimize these impacts. Reuters released a recent draft report from the IPCC suggesting the panel will soon “warn that governments might have to extract vast amounts of greenhouses gases from the air,” using techniques known as geoengineering, in order to limit climate change. Former Vice President Al Gore has called such schemes “utterly insane.” Naomi Klein, noted journalist and climate activist, went further to call geoengineering the “ultimate expression of a desire to avoid doing the hard work of reducing emissions” that cause global warming.
While well intentioned, geoengineering solutions could have disastrous consequences. Releasing huge amounts of sulfur into the Earth’s atmosphere in order to cool North America could cause droughts in Africa. Adding chemicals to the ocean in order to soak up carbon dioxide could upset delicate food chains. Call on the IPCC to reject geoengineering as the solution to climate change, and to focus instead on reducing the human impacts that cause it.
Dear IPCC Chairman Pachauri,
In your important work with the United Nations, you must consider all potential climate change solutions. The task of minimizing the impacts of climate change on global health and economies will not be easy; yet it is crucial that you also consider the potentially damaging side effects of the proposed solutions, themselves.
Some scientists are fixated on the idea of geoengineering: that we can solve a problem we created by interfering even more with the Earth’s natural systems. Others in the scientific community, including researchers at the University of Reading, have cautioned that geoengineering could have a “new unintended side-effect over a large part of the planet.”
While it is certain that solutions will have to be creative, innovative, and complex, imagining we can just pump more chemicals into the air and sea rather than actually reducing emissions is unrealistic and potentially dangerous. Tampering with the ocean’s chemical makeup on such a scale, or that of the stratosphere, cannot possibly produce only those changes that we desire. I urge you to reject proposed geoengineering solutions, and to focus instead on minimizing the human behaviors that got us here in the first place.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Dori via Wikimedia