We shouldn't rely on technology to save the planet: it's dangerous

Nina van Rijn


5 minutes



From carbon sucking machines to ice-restoring pumps: three reasons why technological solutions aimed at reversing damage that's already been done, are a threat for solving the climate crisis.

September 23, 2021

In humanity’s search to solve the climate crisis, the most fascinating technological solutions have been proposed (and developed). From enormous carbon sucking machines, to ice-restoring pumps, to spraying particulates into the stratosphere to limit solar heat from reaching our planet.

Relying on such solutions that aim to reverse the damage that’s already been done, can be dangerous. First of all, we can’t foresee the adverse effects some of these solutions may bring. We simply don’t understand the complex network effects of nature well enough to predict all the effects that spraying chemicals into the sky – for example –  will have. What if they poison an organism that is essential for regulating our climate? What if we cool the planet down too much and fail to remove these chemicals from the stratosphere?

Secondly, researchers McLaren and Markusson from Lancaster Environment Centre found that technological promises have delayed climate action by forty years. If we make ourselves believe that more effective options become available in the future, then this leads us to wait. Why spend billions of euro’s on emission reductions, if we can just wait for the carbon sucking machine to fix the climate? But even proven technologies such as carbon capture and storage and hydrogen will not be running at the scale that is required to meet the Paris Agreement by 2050. So we shouldn’t even wait on those solutions.

Thirdly, relying on technologies to save us, tells us that we don’t need any behavioural, cultural, social or political change. It tells us we can continue business as usual, continue scrambling for fossil fuels, burning coal, combusting diesel, you name it. If, in the future, these technologies prove not to be as effective as promised, not be implemented on time, or unable to keep up with the increasing amount of carbon accumulating in the atmosphere, it might be too late. Besides, behavioural, cultural, social and political change is not only needed now to prevent further warming of the earth, but also to protect biodiversity and human health, prevent pollution of our soils, et cetera.

So, we as humans, organizations and societies need to change. We need to reduce our carbon emissions (and pollution of others sorts) and work towards net zero. In my opinion, this is the only way to go.

Salacia Solutions helps organizations to track their environmental impact – including carbon emissions – and work towards meeting their reduction targets.

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