Peace Magazine: Become an Influencer: Promote Geoengineering!

Peace Magazine

Become an Influencer: Promote Geoengineering!

• published May 18, 2024 • last edit May 30, 2024

When it comes to climate change, what kind of person are you?
A I’m an activist. Every day I do something to try to prevent the catastrophe.
B Sorry, I don’t know much about it. I live under a rock.
C Shhhh! It’s horrible but inevitable, so let’s discuss pleas- ant topics instead.
D You’ve been duped into believing there is any such crisis. The climate is fine.
If you’re Type D, don’t let me de- tain you. Nice meeting you – bye!

But I’m turning lots of dopey Types B and C into lively Type A. Give me a few minutes to work on you too, please. I’m an aspiring “influencer.” I work on changing public opinion, including yours. I want you to become an influencer too because public opinion urgently must be changed to prevent hell on earth. That will require a lot of us influencers.

Yes, the climate crisis is bad and will get worse. But the worst is avoid- able – if we talk about it and investigate the alternative solutions that are being proposed. It is indeed too late to solveinhouse collage along with Bob AL-Greene, mashable the crisis by only reducing carbon emissions. We should have taken that advice seriously thirty years ago. But fortunately, we have at least two other types of intervention now that are both called “geoengineering.” Many people assume that all geoengineering is dangerous, but that’s not so. Some interventions may be, but not all, and we’d better check out every possibility because we’re going to need more than one and even some risky ones may be worth it.


Of the two basic geoengineering approaches, one involves cooling the planet directly by shading it partially from incoming sunlight. This is called “solar radiation management” or SRM. Mostly, this depends on increasing “al- bedo” reflectivity. For example, tiny particles (called “aerosols”) sprayed into the stratosphere can reflect back a little sunlight and keep the earth measurably cooler. That happens naturally when volcanos erupt and cool the planet with sulphur emissions. But there are other proposals for reflecting light, such as painting roofs and highways white, or even covering vast areas with mirrors. The most practical proposal is nature’s own way: whiten clouds over the oceans, since white clouds reflect more light away than darker clouds. This approach is called “marine cloud brightening.” (Or “re-brightening,” since we’ve learned that most clouds are no longer as white as they used to be, which is part of our problem.)

We will probably need some form of SRM. That won’t solve our whole problem, but it will cool the planet for a few decades while we gradually shut off car- bon emissions and remove the “legacy” greenhouse gases (GHG) from the air and water. The oceans already have absorbed so much CO2 that they are now too acidic for shellfish and corals. SRM cannot make anything less acidic.


So, the second type of geoengineering is the removal of excess greenhouse gas from the atmosphere. This goes beyond curtailing new emissions, which is obviously essential but insufficient. Even if we could stop all GHG emissions today, that would only stop the additional heating, but would leave us unbearably hot and the oceans too acidic. To actually cool the planet, we have to remove much of the surplus GHG that has already been put into the atmosphere and oceans. That’s what the second type of geoengineering offers: “carbon dioxide removal” strategies (CDR).

Nature already uses many car- bon-removal solutions, and it is wise to copy some of her tricks. Trees and other plants, for example, remove CO2 and sequester it underground, enriching the soil and nourishing our diets. So, I call reforestation a form of “geoengineering,” though many people seem to reserve the term for only technological projects. Don’t let them stop you. If you want to devote your energies to planting forests or revitalizing depleted soil with carbon, you’ll be doing vital geoengineering work. Hooray for you!

But Nature also uses another dandy carbon-removal solution that we can emulate – rock weathering. Falling rain- drops absorb CO2, then land on rocks, combining with minerals and flowing to the ocean, where it eventually falls to the bottom and remains for eons. If we pulverize the rocks (“enhance” the weathering), the rock powder can absorb more CO2, which we must do quickly. And there’s a bonus benefit: The powder can replenish degraded soil to feed the extra billion people who will be arriving soon for dinner.


We need to stimulate public demand for geoengineering research. As part of the public, let’s start by influencing each other. While acknowledging that some climate management methods will turn out to be ineffective or too risky, let’s demand an exploration of all opportunities.

To be persuasive, we need two things: first, some factual knowledge about the possibilities and, second, the diligence of a bee, as we buzz from one acquaintance to another, crosspollinating their minds with the seeds of possibility.

I suggest that you pick “soil amendment” as your first awareness-spreading project. Why? Frankly, because its benefits are so apparent that almost everyone will immediately accept them. If you’re going to influence public opinion, why not start with something easy?

But you also need to know quite a bit about your subject. You need to study up enough to really know your stuff. Is there an easy, enjoyable way to get smart about rock dust, seaweed, and biochar?

Yes! I am here to help you, pal! I have produced a video course that you can finish with about 10 to 15 hours of your spare time, free of charge! It’s called “Become a Climate Change Influencer,” and it’s available on your computer now. People all over the world will sign up for it, and I hope you will too. There are only two hours of lectures, one hour of required reading (all magazine articles), and seven or eight hours of practical assignments that will build up your leadership skills, rhetorical pizzaz, and charisma. I suggest that you take this little quiz and see whether you find the science part interesting.


Here are some of the multiple-choice questions selected from the quizzes of Udemy’s free course, “Become a Climate Change Influencer.” The course teaches people to become climate activists by learning – and informing others – about one geoengineering approach, the use of soil amendments. Rock dust, seaweed, and biochar can enhance the soil and reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers while removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sequestering it. How much do you know about this form of geoengineering?

1. How is biochar primarily produced?
a. By burning wood with oxygen in an open environment.
b. By burying organic matter underground for several years.
c. By using a machine designed for generating steam.
d. By composting agricultural waste with manure.
e. By burning organic material without oxygen.

2. According to polls, what is public opinion about climate modification?
a. Overwhelmingly negative
b. Supportive with willingness to contribute financially
c. Indifferent with no desire for political action
d. Uniformly in favor of solar radiation management without reservations
e. Completely against any form of financial contribution

3. What recent milestone regarding global surface temperature has heightened concerns among climate researchers?
a. An average increase of 1.0° C above the pre-industrial average.
b. An average increase of 1.5° C above the pre-industrial average for the first time in a single year.
c. The first 12-month period with a 2° C increase.
d. A record high increase in a single month.
e. The lowest global surface temperature increase in a decade.

4. What significant potential does enhanced weathering with basalt have, according to a paper in Nature?
a. Can increase global temperatures
b. Can remove up to 2 billion tons of CO2 annually from the atmosphere by 2050
c. Can lead to the extinction of certain crop species
d. Is a leading cause of soil degradation
e. Will decrease the pH of the soil significantly

5. Which climate conditions are most favorable for effective implementation of enhanced weathering?
a. Cold and dry climates
b. Warm and arid climates
c. Warm and wet climates
d. Cool and humid climates
e. Variable and temperate climates

6. What potential risk is involved in applying mine tailings in agriculture as a soil amendment?
a. Soil acidity
b. Water scarcity
c. Transportation costs
d. Government regulations
e. Crop diversity

7. What factor plays a crucial role in determining the profitability of applying rock dust in agriculture?
a. Soil fertility
b. Climate change
c. Toxic metal release
d. Pest infestations
e. Soil compaction

8. How are researchers rehabilitating areas depleted by deforestation in the Amazon?
a. By applying chemical fertilizers
b. Through reforestation with non-native species
c. By using mature biochar mixed with rock dust
d. By importing fertile soil from other regions
e. By abandoning the land permanently

9. Who invented biochar?
a. European scientists in the 18th century
b. Indigenous Amazonian Indians
c. Brazilian researchers in the 20th century
d. North American agriculturalists
e. Chinese farmers in ancient times

10. In which region is the first kilometer of a biochar highway being poured in North America?
a. Tennessee
b. Quebec
c. Ontario
d. Colorado
e. Alberta

Published in Peace Magazine Vol.40, No.2 Apr-Jun 2024
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