Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Oceans cover roughly 70 percent of the globe. Their acidification makes it difficult for fish, shellfish, and marine plantlife to flourish. (Photo: Raul Lieberwirth/flickr/cc)

Geoengineering Schemes Sound Too Good to be True? That's Because They Are.

Study finds that 'technofixes' won't be enough to save the planet's oceans in a world where CO2 emissions continued to climb.

Deirdre Fulton

As a historic heat wave ravages the Middle East and glaciers continue rapidly melting into the sea, a "thought-experiment" devised by German researchers has demonstrated—yet again—that the best way to avoid the effects of catastrophic climate change is to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

According to a paper (pdf) published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, geoengineering "technofixes" such as carbon dioxide removal (CDR)—a yet-unproven technology designed to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere—wouldn't be enough to save the planet's oceans in a world where CO2 emissions continued to climb. 

The study, led by Sabine Mathesius of the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, imagined a world that went on burning fossil fuels at an accelerating rate—and then adopted a CDR technique in order to mitigate global warming. 

"Our study clearly shows that if the global community follows a business-as-usual CO2 emissions scenario into the future, even massive deployment of CDR schemes cannot reverse the substantial impacts of these emissions on on the marine environment," the paper reads.

"Thus," it continues, "our findings contribute to the growing body of evidence supporting the view that immediate and ambitious action to reduce CO2 emissions is the most reliable strategy for avoiding dangerous climate change, ocean acidification, and large-scale threats to marine ecosystems."

A report issued last month by the European Transdisciplinary Assessment of Climate Engineering, a consortium of 14 academic and research institutions from Germany, the UK, France, Austria and Norway, similarly found that geoengineering methods—including CDR—are "no quick fix" for climate change.

"It would be irresponsible, based on all we know so far, to expect climate engineering to significantly contribute to solving the problem of climate change in the next several decades," said Mark Lawrence, that project's coordinator and scientific director of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies-Potsdam.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

ACLU Demands 'Truly Systemic Overhaul' of US Civilian Harm Policies

"While a serious Defense Department focus on civilian harm is long overdue and welcome, it's unclear that this directive will be enough," says director of the legal group's National Security Project.

Jessica Corbett ·


'This Is Not Over': Alaska Supreme Court Rejects Youth Climate Case

"With the state continuing to undermine their health, safety, and futures," said the plaintiffs' lead counsel, "we will evaluate our next steps and will continue to fight for climate justice."

Jessica Corbett ·


Analysis Finds 'Staggering' Rise in Voter Suppression After GOP Restrictions in Georgia

"This is why we are fighting this new law in court," said one voting rights advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Egregious': Pennsylvania Court Strikes Down Mail-In Voting Law

The ruling was stayed pending an appeal to the state's Supreme Court and as one voting advocate put it: "The fight's not over yet, folks."

Julia Conley ·


Big Win for Open Internet as Court Upholds California Net Neutrality Law

One legal advocate called the Ninth Circuit's opinion "a great decision and a major victory for internet users in California and nationwide."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo