The problem of global warming is not alien to anyone of us. From melting ice-caps to the destruction of the habitats of animals, the phenomena has various manifestations, each as cataclysmic as the other. The world has had to turn to Science and Technology, for a solution to this threat to our world, despite the fact that it was the very same Science and Technology, which gave us Global Warming. Can we, now, use Science and Technology to protect environment?
The advancements in Science and Technology have, to a large extent, thrown up some solutions, though. A new method called the carbon tracker seeks to track the concentration of green house gases in the atmosphere at various points on the globe. This plays a very crucial role, as it detects the region where emissions are higher, tracks the area of absorption and, thus, pinpoints the areas which are controlling emissions and which are not. The University of Iowa researchers have, through the detection of carbon absorbed by plants, successfully arrived at a more accurate estimate of the impact and the land pattern changes of global warming.
Apart from the newer and more efficient methods to detect the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, there are also many innovative ways of reducing the damage done to the ozone layer. One of the techniques which are being worked on is the ‘space sunshade’ system. This system involves the creation of a sunshade in the form of a cloud, somewhat cylindrical in shape, half of the diameter of the earth and a length ten times longer. This system would filter out the projected levels of sunlight.
However, such a technique will take another 20 to 25 years, before it can become a reality. Once launched, this would reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the world by 2%, enough to stabilize the temperature. Another technique involves the use of a substance called ‘hyperbranched aluminosilica’. This material is capable of absorbing the carbon dioxide gas, the most remarkable aspect of this substance is that it can be reused and recycled for a long period of time, thus, making it quite inexpensive.
Nanotechnology also provides a viable solution to the problem of global warming. The use of nanotechnology on the one hand aims at extracting more out of fossil fuels and on the other, provides a perfect substitute to the use of fossil fuels. From the use of the nanoscale sieves, which filter out the toxic components of fuels, to the fuel Borne catalyst which reduces the fuel consumption by up to 10 % on one hand and reduces carbon dioxide emission by 15%, nanotechnology provides a multi pronged approach at reducing global warming.
Apart from these, there are other developments spearheaded by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change. These include the use of more advanced all weather solar cells, which are more efficient and have longer life spans. Other renewable sources of energy like the untapped energy of tides and the wind are also being productively utilized. Another interesting source of energy is bio-energy, which entail the use of advanced microbes having an efficient photosynthetic ability.
The above mentioned ways are just a few in curbing global warming. The advancements in science and technology, indeed, hold a promise for a better tomorrow. But the real contention is, whether such advancements are the solution to our environmental problems. Unless we tackle the root problem of fossil fuels, would it not be akin to a situation where one hand caresses as the other slaps?
Therefore, should not the real solution lie in reducing the global emissions through a concerted effort by both the rich and the poor countries? The efforts in the field of carbon credit trading, the “cap and trade” method, seems to be our best bet in ensuring the protection of the world as we know it while the role of science should complement the other efforts.