This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

How Exploring Mars Could Help Us Fight Climate Change On Earth

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Adrienne Macartney:

The surface of Mars is a cold desert. Scars in the landscape point to a history of flowing rivers, standing lakes and possibly even planetary oceans. Yet the current Martian atmosphere has a density that’s around 0.6% of Earth’s, making it far too thin to support liquid water – or life – on the barren surface.

At some point in the planet’s history, however, there must have been a thicker, denser atmosphere, probably dominated by carbon dioxide (CO2). And working out what happened to all that CO2 could help us deal with the increasing amount of the gas in our own atmosphere, which is pushing us towards dangerous climate change.

So, where did the Martian atmosphere go? A large amount was lost to space, stripped away by the solar wind. Some has been stored as CO2 ice at the poles, where it remains today. But part of the atmosphere was transformed into carbonate minerals and preserved through the millennia. Using a combination of satellites and rovers, as well as evidence from meteorites that have been ejected from Mars and landed on Earth, we are beginning to understand how this process of mineral carbonation can change an entire planet’s atmosphere.

Humanity has actually become very good at capturing CO2 from the atmosphere through a wide variety of techniques. Once captured, the CO2 is usually compressed into a dense liquid. The problem comes in storing this liquid safely and stably, over millions of years. One exciting new development is called “mineral carbon sequestration”. This is the process of transforming CO2 gas into a stable mineral called carbonate.

Filling the cracks. Author provided.

Turning CO2 Into Rock

How does CO2 gas become solid rock? If CO2 gas dissolves in water it produces a weak acid, called carbonic acid. When this acidic fluid comes into contact with rocks known as basalts and peridotites, which contain lots of the minerals olivine and pyroxene, they release charged particles of elements such as magnesium, iron and calcium into the fluid.

More chemical reactions between the rocks and carbonic fluid produce the solid, carbon-rich mineral carbonate, which fills cracks and pore spaces in the rocks. The carbon goes from being an atmospheric gas to a mineral deposit. During this process of alteration, the original rock minerals absorb huge amounts of water into their structure. This hydration causes the rocks to expand and crack, exposing fresh rocks that can also react with the water.

This process of mineral carbon sequestration happens naturally on Earth, particularly in ophiolites, pieces of oceanic crust that have been transported and pushed up onto continental plates. The natural reaction proceeds very slowly, over hundreds of thousands of years, and the carbon extracted from the atmosphere is an important sink for carbon ejected by volcanic eruptions.

Iceland is experimenting with carbon mineralisation. PROThinkGeoEnergy/Flickr.

But if we can artificially recreate this process, making it proceed at a faster rate, we can more safely store the CO2 we remove from the atmosphere. This kind of mineral carbon storage geoengineering is now being experimented with at a number of pilot projects including Iceland, Norway, and the United States.

Researchers in these countries have discovered that the reaction happens much more quickly if the fluid temperature is raised to around 185°C. This heated fluid is injected down a borehole to the desired rock formation, where it stays hot because of the natural warmth below the Earth’s surface and because the reaction itself produces heat.

However, many questions need answering before the technique can be carried out on a large enough scale to be useful against global climate change. Ideally, we will need many hundreds of carbon injection sites, such as the CarbFix facility, dotted across Earth’s vast basalt wilderness regions. The challenges include fully understanding the chemical reactions between the rock and water, learning how to deploy these reactions fast enough, and more accurately estimating how quickly the CO2 will mineralise and the space it will take up.

Fighting climate change on another planet. NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS.

Mars’s Loss, Earth’s Gain

This is where we can learn from Mars. There is a near-endless variety of ways that unpicking the chemical evolution of one planet might better inform geoengineering actions on our own. For example, understanding the long-term fate of Martian carbonates and how they interact with the atmosphere and hydrosphere, will teach us how effective this form of carbon storage might be on Earth.

Analysing the carbonates found on Mars, the way reactions have taken place, and how carbon concentrations have changed across the planet, may help us to better understand the process of mineral carbon sequestration. New carbonate types might be discovered that provide clues about carbon-based minerals we think exist but haven’t yet been found on Earth.

The problem is there this is surprisingly little communication between Mars scientists and Earth climate change specialists. By combining the knowledge of these two groups, we may be able to control our global climate problems by using the planet’s rocky crust. Mars’ atmosphere loss may eventually become Earth’s climate change saviour.

This article is part of The Conversation’s Science + Technology series.

Adrienne Macartney is a Ph.D. researcher, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

Read the original article.

You must be to comment.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Navya Shorey

By Be a Bridge for Change - BBC

By Tanmay Singh

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below