The recognition of the urgency of the climate crisis has stepped up a gear in the last few years, but with one depressing report on the global issue after another, you can be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed and wondering what can actually be done?
In the run-up to the recent UN climate action summit in New York, the first annual Global Climate Restoration Forum was held, to discuss emerging technologies, radical ideas, and occasionally controversial methods of tackling global heating.
From ways to claw back CO2 emissions to how to stop the rapidly melting poles, geoengineering – once the remit of mad scientists and terrible sci-fi disaster movies – is being considered in a whole new light.
One of those ideas is an innovative way to not just prevent but actually restore the rapidly melting glaciers, ice sheets, and sea ice in the Arctic, which is currently warming twice as fast as anywhere else on Earth.
The solution, according to scientists at the aptly named non-profit Ice911 (“Take action for a cooler planet”), is to liberally scatter silica beads as fine as sand onto the ice to prevent it from melting by reflecting back the Sun’s rays.
Reflective ice and snow are key to preventing the Earth from overheating. White surfaces like these reflect most of the radiation from the Sun’s rays back into space, keeping the planet cool and preventing further melt.
Reduced ice and snow that reveal darker surfaces like the ground, sea, or meltwater absorb more of this energy, trapping it as heat so the global temperatures rise and more ice melts. It’s a vicious cycle.