Mar. 26, 2017

Can Technology Turn Around the Global Climate Change?

Date: December 14, 2009

Resource: the Beijing News

Reporter: Yongchen Wang

Seeing the vast desert covered with an extensive array of reflective panels, people not only think of the unbelievable amount of money spent on these panels, but they also worry about whether this plan is another round of transforming nature and conquering nature.

Due to how quickly the glaciers in Greenland are melting, the result of increasing temperatures, the sea level is rising. In some regions, changes in rainfall patterns induce large-scale famines, causing scares among the ordinary people. However, these phenomena provide scientists a reason to believe that technology is a more effective way to reflect self-value and to save the earth.

At the Copenhagen Climate Conference, apart from “Plan A”, which is under tough negotiation, “Plan B”, which copes with global climate change, is also in discussion. This plan of capturing carbon dioxide includes building high-tech towers all over the world capable of collecting molecules of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and spreading nutrients containing iron elements into the sea to boost the growth of phytoplankton. The phytoplankton will then absorb carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. After they die, they will sink to the seabed; thereupon, the absorbed carbon dioxide will “be buried”.

However, at the conference, another viewpoint, which has a fair amount of supporters, is that if a forest of chimneys and roaring motors was considered in the past as modernization and methods of human beings transforming and conquering nature, then the “Plan B” that we hold today must just be another crazy plan of human beings trying to transform nature.

I agree with this point of view. “Plan B” requires immeasurable amounts of money when the negotiation of providing developing countries with transfers in technology and financial support are in progress. It is questionable whether poor or small countries are willing or able to spend a fortune on sunlight reflecting technologies. Technologies such as constructing extensive arrays of reflective panels, spreading white sulphate grains in the stratosphere in order to simulate volcanic ashes reflecting sunlight, or building a giant reflector in space to reflect 1 to 2 percent of the incident light. Scientists in developed countries have already planned to spend money on these technologies; however, is it possible for their government or people to fund their plans? Granted that someone will pay the money, will these plans actually cause a change in the ecological system and rainfall pattern of that area?

Nowadays, solar and wind energy are widely used, but the issue of the pollution produced by manufacturing solar energy equipment is still unsolved. Wind turbines, which utilize the wind to create electrical energy, often kill free-flying birds. Many people are in need of adequate clothing and food. In such condition, covering the vast desert with expensive reflective panels not only make people wonder whether the money spent on these technologies is worth it, but it also makes them worry whether the plan is just another round of transforming and conquering nature.

In my point of view, Earth can provide humans with what we need to survive, but it cannot satisfy our unlimited desire for material requisite. Covering deserts with reflective panels is not a task of high priority when we are faced with problems of increasing sea-levels and large-scale desertification. Instead, we should re-recognize the relationship between human beings and the earth, and live along with it harmoniously. Should we demand things from nature or live together as a whole?

In fact, in coping with the global climate change, the best solution is to spend less money and resume the virtue of the Chinese nation: to be industrious and thrifty and to be content. Up to now, many national minorities still view nature as a deity. However, Nature should not be worshiped. It should be respected.

I am not opposed to technology. I came to Copenhagen by plane. However, I am worried about two things: firstly, people put technology in a supreme position and believe that technology can save the earth; secondly, some people do not follow the path of sustainable development on the pretext of development for the sake of their own and immediate interests.

Translator: Jieying Ji

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