Taiwan Commits to Banning Plastic Items by 2030

Taiwan has announced plans to ban plastic items in an attempt to reduce plastic pollution. As reported by EcoWatch, Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Agency put forward a 12-year plan that will officially begin in 2019 with a blanket ban on plastic straws in stores and restaurants. In 2020, the ban will be extended to all dining establishments.

By 2025 people will have to pay a fee to use plastic straws, bags, cups, and disposable utensils. Although the specific pricing was not disclosed, we suspect it’ll be high enough to deter people from using plastic items. The plan is to ultimately phase out all plastics by 2030, and replace them with reusable and biodegradable items.

Lai Ying-ying, an EPA official supervising
the new initiative, explained to Channel NewsAsia that the average Taiwan citizen uses roughly 700 plastic bags a year. Under the new plans, the hope is this number will be reduced to 100 bags by 2025 and 0 by 2030.

In addition to the ban, Taiwan Today reports that the EPA is also launching a series of programs to remove plastic waste and other garbage from the nation’s waters.

Taiwan is the latest nation to implements plans to combat plastic waste. In 2017, both Kenya and China announced bans on various plastic items. The United Kingdom has made moves to end plastic pollution as well, following Sir David Attenborough’s plea to take the matter seriously and the launch of the science show Blue Planet II, which brought more attention to how plastics affect marine life.

Even the BBC is changing its policy on plastic. The media company announced in February it would ban all plastic cups, utensils, and containers by 2020, citing the aforementioned Blue Planet II as the cause behind the change. So far, the company’s kitchens have replaced plastic cups with glasses.

It’s encouraging to see more nations taking a stand against plastic pollution, but more work will need to be done to truly make an impact. There are trillions of pieces of plastic in our oceans as of 2016; those don’t simply disappear once we decide to stop using plastic utensils.

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Man Claims to Be Time Traveler from 2030, Passes Polygraph Test

A man who claims to be a time traveler from the year 2030 has apparently passed a lie detector test when giving a handful of predictions about the future.

The man, known only as “Noah,” insists that he must remain anonymous and that his face must be blurred. Noah also claims that he is 50-years-old, but has taken an “age rejuvenating drug” to make himself appear 25.

Noah has previously given some predictions about the future in an interview with YouTube channel Paranormal Elite. But this time around, another YouTube channel, Apex TV, has subjected Noah to a lie detector test while he gave many of the same predictions.

Among them are forecasts about Trump being re-elected president, humans reaching Mars in 2028, and the introduction of robots that can independently operate a home. Noah added that artificial intelligence will be “huge,” phones will only get bigger, and that a Google Glass-like device will “take over” within the next decade.

Interestingly, Noah also said that time travel has already been invented but is being kept secret — and will only be made public in the year 2028. Also, someone named Ilana Remikee is apparently going to be president in 2030.

Noah claims to have hard evidence proving all of these predictions, but can’t give us it because of “paradoxes.”

Is It Fake?

The general scientific consensus is that time travel into the past isn’t possible. But suspending disbelief, there are other issues with these predictions.

Polygraph (or “lie detector”) tests are notoriously easy to beat, and their value as instruments capable of catching untruths is becoming increasingly weaker. According to the American Psychological Association, “most psychologists agree that there is little evidence that polygraphs can accurately detect lies.”

Similarly, Noah’s predictions are actually pretty boring. Apple is working on a Google Glass-like device, consumer demand is shifting toward bigger phones, smart home products are becoming increasingly mainstream, and Elon Musk seems pretty committed to sending people to Mars within the next few decades. One doesn’t need to be a time traveler to make similar predictions.

It’s also a bit suspicious that “Ilana Remikee” doesn’t show up in any Google queries or vital record searches. To be president in 2030, one would have to have been born in the U.S. (natural-born-citizen clause) in 1993 in order to be 35 (the minimum age) in 2028 (the closest election year to 2030). That person would be 24- or 25-years-old currently.

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Study Predicts That After 2030, Every Other Year Will Bring Record-Hot Summers

Record-Hot Summers Ahead

Remember those historically hot months we’ve had recently? Well, those might soon be the norm in the United States, Canada, the Mediterranean, and pretty much all of Asia. In the next couple of decades, it will become almost impossible to enjoy summers in the in these parts, according to a study published in October in the journal Earth’s Future.

By using a particular environmental “fingerprint” analysis called Wet bulb Globe Temperature, which measures “the effect of environmental temperature and humidity on thermal comfort,” researchers found that these record-hot summers are likely to occur 70 times more in the future than they did in the past 40 years.

Our Warming World: The Future of Climate Change [INFOGRAPHIC]
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Concretely, this translates to some 50 percent of summers occurring in the 2030s to be warmer than record-hot summers in the past 40 years. It doesn’t stop there. Almost summer from 2050 onward will be hotter than what we’ve currently been experiencing — and we’ve had some pretty warm ones recently.

“In the last 10 years, summers have become noticeably warmer,” co-author Francis Zwiers, director of the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium at the University of Victoria in Canada, told Motherboard in an interview. In fact, Zweirs added, “[p]arts of China and East Asia are already experiencing record warm summers.”

Indeed, in this summer alone, a catastrophic heat wave dubbed “Lucifer” has plagued Europe, causing devastating forest fires in Portugal. Then, California also had its prolonged hottest summer ever, hitting triple-digit temperatures similar to those experienced last February in Oklahoma. Perhaps not suprizingly, 2017 has been predicted to be the warmest ever, and that says a lot considering that temperatures were record-high in 2016.

A Human Problem

The new study contributes to previous research that establishes a clear connection between recent warming temperatures and our use of fossil fuels. A still-to-be-published U.S. government report found global average temperature increase since 1951 is influenced by human activity. The record-hot summers, in short, have been caused by so-called “anthropogenic influence” on environmental conditions.

“We’re more than 95 percent certain human emissions of CO2 (carbon dioxide) and other greenhouse gases are the primary cause,” Zwiers said. “The evidence is extremely strong.”

Commenting on the study, Camilo Mora, an ecologist from the University of Hawaii at Manoa confirmed the findings to Motherboard. “This paper shows how fast this rise in deadly heat is happening,” he said in an email. Nothing can explain this rise in deadly heat other than anthropogenic influence of the climate.”

And humankind could end up reaping what it has sown. Warmer climate, while harmful for the environment in general, would cause more than just extreme discomfort for us humans. Zwiers told Motherboard that this would lead to more heat alerts in the cities, causing them to resort to aggressive cooling strategies most summers.

The warmer temperatures could also potentially upset our supply of electricity, as people resort to using cooling systems (electric fans and air conditioning units) more often when it is hot, leading to a larger energy demand. It doesn’t stop there, however. In many places in Asia, Zwiers added, the heat would be to much to bear, making it dangerous to work outside.

In a separate study published in June in the journal Nature Climate Change, Mora and his colleagues pointed out that some 30 percent of the world’s population already suffer from potentially deadly heat for 20 days or more annually. The numbers would only go higher if carbon emissions aren’t dramatically decreased. Possibly three in four people could be exposed every year to deadly heatwaves by 2100. The temperatures could become so bad that one would long for the words of House Stark — “Winter is coming” — to actually happen.

Theses studies should serve as eye openers for many on the realities of a warming planet, but hope is definitely not lost. Efforts to combat human-induced CO2 emissions continue on both the national and local levels, as well as in the business sector, in a number of countries. We should encourage more to join this work so that carbon emissions targets, such as those set by the Paris Climate Agreement, are met before things become even more difficult to manage.

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World Governments Launch International Alliance to Eradicate Coal by 2030

Anti-Coal Alliance

The UK and Canada have come together to launch an international partnership, in the hopes of advancing efforts to transition away from using coal as an energy source. The Powering Past Coal Alliance was announced at the COP23 climate talks hosted by the United Nations.

“Reducing global coal consumption should be a vital and urgent priority for all countries and states,” said the UK’s Minister for Climate Change and Industry, Claire Perry. “The Powering Past Coal Alliance will signal to the world that the time of coal has passed. The UK is committed to completely phasing out unabated coal-fire power generation no later than 2025 and we hope to inspire others to follow suit.”

In November 2016, the UK government detailed its plans to move away from coal power by 2025, an initiative that would hinge upon the closure of its eight remaining coal-fired power plants. This year, the UK managed to use no coal for a 24 hour period for the first time in 135 years.

Canada also confirmed its intention to end its reliance on coal last year, but gave a deadline of 2030. The country is already making great strides, having generated more than half of its energy needs from renewable sources in 2015.

Following the UK and Canada’s lead, more than twenty partners have already signed up to be a part of the Powering Past Coal Alliance. It’s hoped that there will be as many as 50 countries comprising the initiative by this time next year.

The group has two main priorities. The first is setting firm targets for the timeline governing how soon coal will be phased out. The second is a commitment to no further investment in coal-fired electricity, whether it’s located within a country’s own jurisdiction or abroad.

The Paris Agreement

The Paris Climate Agreement, which was established in October 2016, laid out a target of preventing global temperatures from rising more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels. It’s projected that countries who are enrolled in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development need to phase out coal by 2030.

Paris Climate Agreement
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However, the Powering Past Coal Alliance acknowledges that it’s not possible for every nation to work at the same pace. To help make sure that the transition can be made as swiftly as possible, the group will collaborate with businesses, civil society, and governments to provide technical and practical assistance.

“Phasing out coal power is good news for the climate, for our health, and for our kids,” said the Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna. “Coal is literally choking our cities, with close to a million people dying every year from coal pollution. I’m thrilled to see so much global momentum for the transition to clean energy – and this is only the beginning.”

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Here’s a List of Everything Elon Musk Says He’ll Do by 2030

Elon Musk: A Man of Many Dreams

To say that billionaire tech-preneur Elon Musk is a busy man would be an understatement. Musk finds himself at the helm of a number of companies, each of which have goals firmly set on the future.

To bring electric autonomous vehicles (EAVs) and renewable energy solutions forward, he has Tesla. To give humankind a chance at becoming a multi-planetary species, there’s SpaceX. To transform transportation — and build better tunnels — he’s working with the Boring Company. To have a hand at the conscientious development of artificial intelligence (AI), he’s involved with OpenAI. And, lastly, to augment the human brain’s capabilities, he’s put up Neuralink.

It’s easy to get lost with so many multifarious goals that Musk has across this smorgasbord of companies, so let’s put these down in a list; Here’s what Musk plans to achieve by 2030:

A Timeline of Projects

2017: Quite a number of the goals Musk set for his many endeavors look at the really near future, as close as 100 days in fact when it comes to building the world’s largest lithium-ion battery in Australia. Musk said back in March that he’s planning to complete the battery in just a hundred days, or else it’ll be free.

The countdown officially started in September, which puts 100 days in a little over three months. However, by the end of September, construction was already half done. Meanwhile, Musk has promised to begin deliveries of Tesla’s improved SolarRoofs by the end of 2017.

elon musk tesla spacex boring company
Image Credit: Tesla

: What’s possibly on top of Musk’s priorities is getting the Model 3 production on track. The goal now is to hit 5,000 cars per month by March 2018. With some set-backs in production, it’s difficult to say if Tesla would actually reach its goal. Around the same time, Tesla has promised updates to their Autopilot self-driving car software, which would purportedly bring their autonomous vehicles a step closer to reaching Level-5 autonomy before 2020. Back in Australia, a solar and wind farm project where Tesla would be providing Powerpacks is expected to be finished by 2018.

2019: Exciting things lie ahead this year. The recently unveiled Tesla electric semi, though scarce on details, is slated to begin production by 2019. Around this time, between October 2018 to April 2019, Tesla will also unveil an electric pickup truck. Also in the same year, a long-been-hinted-at compact SUV called the Model Y would supposedly be launched, as well as a Tesla flying car dubbed the Model F.

Then there’s the Boring Company’s tunnel under Los Angeles. Although Musk hasn’t exactly revealed a concrete timetable for it, we can assume that — with the rate of work being done and approvals from local authorities having been given — this advanced tunnel transportation system could be completed and could become operational within the next couple of years.

2020: Some three years down the road, Musk’s plans get even bigger. For starters, the Tesla Roadster 2.0, which has been unveiled as a surprise this November, is set for a 2020 release. Then, if all went well with the Model 3 production, Tesla should be producing one million of these EVs per year by 2020.

Also by this year, Tesla’s EVs would supposedly have reached a range of 1,000 kilometers on a single charge. Add to this are plans for a Tesla fleet mobility service.

2021: Musk might narrowly complete a Tesla gigafactory in China around 2020, which would begin EV production by 2021. The plans to build a manufacturing plant in China goes hand-in-hand with the country’s efforts to have more EVs on the roads by 2030. Together with a gigafactory, Tesla also plans to put up 1,000 superchargers in China.

2022: Perhaps the biggest moment for Musk would come in 2022, with the first planned cargo mission to Mars aboard the revamped BFR. The new reusable rocket would become the standard for SpaceX missions, in an effort to bring down the costs of space travel.

2024: Two years later, Elon Musk plans to send the first crewed mission to the red planet. At some point between 2022 and 2024, SpaceX might also launch a new kind of city-to-city transport aboard an earth-to-earth version of the BFR.

2030 and Beyond

Elon Musk also has a number of other projects that don’t yet have a definite timetable, or at least none have been made public. On top of these is the Hyperloop, which Musk decided would be something either Tesla or SpaceX would be more involved with. Another project that’s currently in its earliest stages of development is the Neuralink, Musk’s attempts to merge the human brain with AI.

So, Musk has a lot on his plate. We could expect a few stumbles along the way, but for someone who is quite familiar with criticism, cynicism, and skepticism like Musk on the helm, we’ll probably be pleasantly surprised by the multitude of plans he completes by deadline.

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Welcome to 2030. I Own Nothing, Have No Privacy, and Life Has Never Been Better

This article is part of the Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils.

For more information watch the What If: Privacy Becomes a Luxury Good? session from the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2017.

Welcome to the year 2030. Welcome to my city – or should I say, “our city”. I don’t own anything. I don’t own a car. I don’t own a house. I don’t own any appliances or any clothes.

It might seem odd to you, but it makes perfect sense for us in this city. Everything you considered a product, has now become a service. We have access to transportation, accommodation, food and all the things we need in our daily lives. One by one all these things became free, so it ended up not making sense for us to own much.

First communication became digitized and free to everyone. Then, when clean energy became free, things started to move quickly. Transportation dropped dramatically in price. It made no sense for us to own cars anymore, because we could call a driverless vehicle or a flying car for longer journeys within minutes. We started transporting ourselves in a much more organized and coordinated way when public transport became easier, quicker and more convenient than the car. Now I can hardly believe that we accepted congestion and traffic jams, not to mention the air pollution from combustion engines. What were we thinking?

 A yellow bicycle. Bicycles could be a primary form of transport in our future society.

Sometimes I use my bike when I go to see some of my friends. I enjoy the exercise and the ride. It kind of gets the soul to come along on the journey. Funny how some things seem never seem to lose their excitement: walking, biking, cooking, drawing and growing plants. It makes perfect sense and reminds us of how our culture emerged out of a close relationship with nature.

“Environmental problems seem far away”

In our city we don’t pay any rent, because someone else is using our free space whenever we do not need it. My living room is used for business meetings when I am not there.

Once in awhile, I will choose to cook for myself. It is easy – the necessary kitchen equipment is delivered at my door within minutes. Since transport became free, we stopped having all those things stuffed into our home. Why keep a pasta-maker and a crepe cooker crammed into our cupboards? We can just order them when we need them.

This also made the breakthrough of the circular economy easier. When products are turned into services, no one has an interest in things with a short life span. Everything is designed for durability, repairability and recyclability. The materials are flowing more quickly in our economy and can be transformed to new products pretty easily. Environmental problems seem far away, since we only use clean energy and clean production methods. The air is clean, the water is clean and nobody would dare to touch the protected areas of nature because they constitute such value to our well being. In the cities we have plenty of green space and plants and trees all over. I still do not understand why in the past we filled all free spots in the city with concrete.

The death of shopping

Shopping? I can’t really remember what that is. For most of us, it has been turned into choosing things to use. Sometimes I find this fun, and sometimes I just want the algorithm to do it for me. It knows my taste better than I do by now.

When AI and robots took over so much of our work, we suddenly had time to eat well, sleep well and spend time with other people. The concept of rush hour makes no sense anymore, since the work that we do can be done at any time. I don’t really know if I would call it work anymore. It is more like thinking-time, creation-time and development-time.

For a while, everything was turned into entertainment and people did not want to bother themselves with difficult issues. It was only at the last minute that we found out how to use all these new technologies for better purposes than just killing time.

“They live different kinds of lives outside of the city”

My biggest concern is all the people who do not live in our city. Those we lost on the way. Those who decided that it became too much, all this technology. Those who felt obsolete and useless when robots and AI took over big parts of our jobs. Those who got upset with the political system and turned against it. They live different kind of lives outside of the city. Some have formed little self-supplying communities. Others just stayed in the empty and abandoned houses in small 19th century villages.

Once in awhile I get annoyed about the fact that I have no real privacy. No where I can go and not be registered. I know that, somewhere, everything I do, think and dream of is recorded. I just hope that nobody will use it against me.

All in all, it is a good life. Much better than the path we were on, where it became so clear that we could not continue with the same model of growth. We had all these terrible things happening: lifestyle diseases, climate change, the refugee crisis, environmental degradation, completely congested cities, water pollution, air pollution, social unrest and unemployment. We lost way too many people before we realised that we could do things differently.

Author’s note: Some people have read this blog as my utopia or dream of the future. It is not. It is a scenario showing where we could be heading – for better and for worse. I wrote this piece to start a discussion about some of the pros and cons of the current technological development. When we are dealing with the future, it is not enough to work with reports. We should start discussions in many new ways. This is the intention with this piece.

Written by Ida Auken, Member of Parliament, Parliament of Denmark (Folketinget)

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Denmark Commits to Ending Its Reliance on Coal for Electricity by 2030

Coal Crunch

This year, at the annual COP23 climate conference, Denmark renewed its pledge to end its reliance on coal for the purposes of producing electricity by 2030. This timeline was previously announced, but was later scrapped when the country elected a right-leaning government in 2015.

A host of countries made the same commitment at the event. Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland, New Zealand, Ethiopia, Mexico and the Marshall Islands will all pursue different methods to produce electricity with a shared deadline of 2030.

The alliance hopes to grow its numbers to include 50 countries by the time the 2018 climate conference rolls around.

“It is no use countries acting alone in relation to this agenda,” said the Danish energy and climate minister Lars Christian Lilleholt. “What is vital is that a large number of countries take part, so it makes a real difference internationally,”

Denmark currently has three power stations that utilize coal. The Esbjerg Power Station is set to stop using coal by 2023, the facility in Nordjylland will follow suit by 2028, and the station in Fyn will do so by 2030.

Farewell to Fossil Fuels

In recent years, Denmark has made great strides toward implementing a more environmentally conscious energy program. The country recently sold its last oil company, and in March of 2017 demonstrated it’s green energy capabilities by producing 100 percent of its energy via wind power.

Now, Denmark wants to be among the countries leading the charge to phase out coal. However, it’s far from the only nation that’s making this transition. India just shut down 37 of its largest coal mines, and China is pursuing far-reaching efforts to eliminate coal from its urban centers. These two countries were not among those that signed the commitment for 2030, but they will no doubt be among the top priorities as the alliance continues to expand.

The negative effects of coal on the environment are well-documented, but its direct effect on human wellbeing can’t be understated. A study published this year stated that coal is responsible for as many as 52,000 deaths every year in the US alone, and experts agree that we would be much healthier if we cut down on our usage.

Renewable energy is a practical and cost-effective alternative to fossil fuels, but the US continues to lag behind when it comes to transitioning to cleaner forms of production. Perhaps as more and more countries make changes, the US and others will follow.

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Number of connected IoT devices to hit 125 billion by 2030, says IHS Markit

The number of connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices will jump on average 12% each year from 27 billion this year to 125bn in 2030, according to new research from IHS Markit.

The eBook, titled ‘The Internet of Things: A Movement, not a Market’, explains how the IoT is creating competition by transforming day-to-day business practices and bringing in new opportunities. It is expected that over the next 15 years, worldwide data transmissions will increase yearly from 20 to 25% to an average of 50% every year.

Jenalea Howell, research director for IoT connectivity and smart cities at IHS Markit, said: “The emerging IoT movement is impacting virtually all stages of industry and nearly all market areas — from raw materials to production to distribution and even the consumption of final goods. This represents a constantly evolving movement of profound change in how humans interact with machines, information and even each other.”

Meanwhile, a survey from Gartner showed that PCs, tablets and smartphones shipments globally will increase 2% year over year to over 2.35 billion units in 2018, establishing the highest year on year growth since 2015. The survey also projected that shipments of conventional PCs will see a 4.4% decline in 2018 but shipments of mobile devices will see a 2.4% increase.

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The Netherlands Will End Coal Power by 2030

Phasing Out Coal Power

The Netherlands has expressed a desire to end coal power by 2030, marking the beginning of the end for coal power plants in the European country.

The Energy of the Future: Harnessing the Power of Earth
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The decision came from the new Dutch government earlier this week, which also announced plans to ban all petrol and diesel-powered cars by the same year. As reported by Megan Darby of Climate Home, the Netherlands will close all coal power plants by 2030, which includes three plants made in 2015 that are said to be more efficient that others. Despite their better performance, however, they quickly started to decrease in value in 2016.

In addition to phasing out coal, the Netherlands will also set a carbon floor price and seek deeper carbon cuts to make sure coal’s elimination doesn’t make it cheaper for companies to use coal elsewhere.

Making a Statement

In a report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), IEEFA energy finance consultant Gerard Wynn said the government’s announcement “sent a dramatic signal to electricity markets today that no investment in coal-fired power in Europe is safe.”

Wynn continued, saying, “Today’s announcement highlights the risk of investing in either new or existing coal-fired power, and the lesson is clear: National coal phase-out plans such as this, combined with the rise of renewables and the impact on demand of improved efficiency, put old electricity-production models at risk.”

In September, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (NEAA) revealed new information that showed how global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions remained unchanged in 2016. While this was a positive sign that people can prevent additional changes to our climate, the Netherlands wants to do better, hence its new goal to reduce emissions in the country by 49 percent, as well as increase the larger EU’s emissions goals from 40 percent to 55 percent.

“Failing that,” writes Darby, “the coalition said it would seek to agree [to] stronger action with ‘likeminded’ countries in northwestern Europe, to minimize any competitive disadvantage from tougher targets.”

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Scientists Warn That Humanity Must Create “Carbon Sucking” Tech by 2030

Carbon Sucking

There are many who are making tremendous and powerful efforts to combat climate change as its repercussions grow increasingly drastic and life-threatening. But according to scientists at Chatham House, a British think-tank, and the general scientific consensus, the impending potential of surpassing 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times is progressing far enough that we need to begin “carbon sucking” by 2030. Carbon sucking technology, according to these and other scientists, will need to be created in order to effectively combat emissions.

“I don’t think we can have confidence that anything else can do this,” said Bill Hare, a physicist and climate scientist at the science and policy institute called Climate Analytics, to a London climate change conference. While trying to remain under a 1.5-degree rise, we have already had a global average increase of 1 degree. “It’s something you don’t want to talk about very much but it’s an unaccountable truth: we will need geoengineering by the mid-2030s to have a chance at the [1.5-C] goal,” Hare continued.

Negative emissions will be an essential part of battling climate change. Image Credit: JuergenPM / Pixabay
Negative emissions will be an essential part of battling climate change. Image Credit: JuergenPM / Pixabay

Engineering the Future

While it might seem drastic, increasing natural disasters, flooding, and a large host of other consequences of climate change are threatening and taking human lives with increasing ferocity. And if we continue on our current path, even with a wealth of intervention methods in place, geoengineering might very well be necessary as these scientists have predicted.

Can We Come Back from Climate Change’s Brink?
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Of these “carbon sucking” solutions, some suggest the planting of specially-designed carbon-absorbing forests. The trees from these forests would be harvested for wood and energy, the emissions from which would be pumped back underground. Underground carbon storage is just one of the many possible ways that scientists hope to capture and store emissions in our environment, reducing the impact of emissions on climate change.

Hare elaborated, “if you’re really concerned about coral reefs, biodiversity [and] food production in very poor regions, we’re going to have to deploy negative emission technology at scale.”

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