Climate Solutions Talk

Last semester, Sam Moore was part of a group that gave a talk entitled: ‘Solutions to Climate Change’, which outlined three potential solutions (at least in part) to the climate challenge.

The Iron Hypothesis: The iron hypothesis is an intriguing idea.

It observes that the oceans are deficient in iron, especially near the North and South Poles. By adding some iron to these regions, it is possible that we will see a increased productivity of phytoplankton which can then sequester CO2 from atmosphere. There have been experiments done on this topic, in some cases controversially as they were conducted without permission. The results of the first lab experiments: show that 1 ton of iron removes 30,000 – 110,000 tons of carbon, whilst 3 open-water experiments indicate 1 ton of iron removes 1,000 tons of carbon (0.3 % carbon emissions reduction). With a Canadian institute seeking permits to dump 10 tons of iron off the Chilean coast this year, we will hopefully see more accurate studies done in this exciting field.

Our Beef with Beef: The second solution involves animal agriculture, and deals with how carbon-intensive it is.

EPA reports 9% of total greenhouse gas emissions are from agriculture, whilst Worldwatch estimates this number is closer to 50% of greenhouse gas emissions. This data comes from the GHGs involved in clearing land to graze livestock and grow feed, keeping livestock alive, processing and transporting the end products, as well as methane and nitrous oxide released from livestock waste.

Cattle ranching is the largest driver of deforestation in the Amazon rain forest, accounting for 80% current deforestation rates. According to Worldwatch, letting grazing land regenerate as tropical rainforest could mitigate as much as 50% of anthropogenic GHG emissions.


Energy and Renewables: The third solution is far more commonly known – a move towards renewable energy.

There are a number of routes towards achieving 100% renewable energy, looking at modern case studies. Here are some of the statistics, with a rough calculation as to how 100% renewable energy could be achieved.


Desert Sunlight Solar Farm:

Size: 16km^2

Cost: $1.9 billion

Capacity: 550MW

Almost three of these plants would have to be built everyday until 2100.


Shepherds Flat Wind Farm: (an onshore wind farm)

Size: 130km^2

Cost: $2 billion

Capcity: 845MW

About 1.5 of these would have to be built everyday until 2100


London Array (Outer Thames Estuary): (an offshore wind farm)


Cost: £1.8 billion (about $2.3 billion)

Capacity: 630MW

Slightly less than 1.5 of these would have to be built everyday until 2100.