In a report released this week, a UN panel of climate change scientists advanced a geoengineering approach to the problem of climate change and said the world must act swiftly in order to avoid a catastrophic temperature rise.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report follows an earlier one, released in March, that detailed the serious effects that climate changes is already causing in various parts of the globe.
From the sky to underground
This latest report suggests that removing CO2 from the atmosphere and burying it in the ground will help limit the temperature rise to the internationally agreed safe level of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels. The panel admitted that it did not know whether such an approach is technologically feasible at this time, or what, if any, risks would be involved.
The scientists said changes are needed soon, in order to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 70 percent by mid-century.
In September 2013, the panel determined that human activity is the primary cause of global climate change with 95 percent certainty.
Crops could fuel power plants
In one scenario, certain crops would be grown for energy and used as the fuel source for power plants – in place of fossil fuels like coal. Capturing carbon emissions when the plants are burned and burying them underground would yield a net result of negative emissions, in theory.
Critics say the method has not been sufficiently tested and would take too long. Some scientists caution that placing carbon dioxide underground could cause earthquakes and increase the potential for toxic leaks.