Floating Islands Could Be Essential for Combating Climate Change

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Unless you speak to the most self-assured climate change denier, just about everyone can appreciate the reality of climate change. We just need to look around us and see the ever-changing conditions in which we all live within.

It’s a scary thing, climate change, and it can play a huge role in how we do everything. It’s now an emergency that we must act on as a species: how we react to it, though, will be essential in creating a safer world. Thankfully, people far smarter than myself are working on creating some outside of the box solutions to the problem at hand.

For example, the creation of floating islands that then convert the carbon dioxide into the atmosphere into something else could be the secret. Scientists have been working on coming up with theories on what we can do to stop or at least slow down climate change. If enough of these were built, the research team in Norway and Switzerland believe, we could stop the build-up of so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

By creating them on large oceanic parts of the planet that aren’t going to be so prone to uncompromising weather, too, we could help to limit the extent of global warming in a relatively short space of time. However, it’s obvious an idea that, at the moment, is still a long way from being complete.

When published as part of the PNAS paper, the proposal, titled ‘Solar Methanol Islands’, was put forward as a wacky but realistic solution to put ourselves back on track to, you know, save the planet.

An interesting (but unlikely) idea

In their announcement of the paper, the lead authors wrote: "Humankind must cease CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning if dangerous climate change is to be avoided,

"However, liquid carbon-based energy carriers are often without practical alternatives for vital mobility applications. The recycling of atmospheric CO2 into synthetic fuels, using renewable energy, offers an energy concept with no net CO2 emission."

Apparently, the idea was able to evolve from a Norwegian government request that they start putting fish farms out at the open sea. It was then seen as a problem as these fish farm grids would need an energy source – how would that be possible? And then the idea of such islands began to appear.

By using photovoltaic cells that turn solar energy into actual power, they would also use hydrogen produced and CO2 extracted from the seawater to ensure this is entirely sustainable. Putting it through a reaction, too, they would create a form of methanol that would then be used as a fuel source.

Seemingly, 70 of these islands could be used to make up a single square-kilometer worth of these islands. They would be placed in areas where waves can reach significant heights, that have high water depth, and which are likely to be safe from issues such as a hurricane.

However, before we start thinking we’ve found ‘the’ solution to climate change, slow down. The science team believes they would need around 3.2m of these islands to be made: with production not even started on one, we might need something a bit faster to stop what is quickly becoming the major battle of our time.