Sometimes when it gets really really hot in the summers I have fleeting thoughts like, “Why hasn’t anyone figured out how to block the sun?” or “Wish it wasn’t so darn hot…”
Well, apparently scientists have been having similar thoughts. In fact, a group of them recently convened at the Royal Society’s Chicheley Hall in the UK to ponder that fate of our planet as it grows ever warmer.
The group consisted of atmospheric physicists, oceanographers, geochemists, environmentalists, international lawyers, psychologists, policy experts and others, who all discussed the pros and cons of “geoengineering”— aka manipulating the Earth’s climate (in this case by dimming the skies).
“If we could experiment with the atmosphere and literally play God, it’s very tempting to a scientist,” said scientist Richard Odingo. “But I worry.”
The necessity for a meeting is a result of an increase in greenhouse-gas emissions and lack of a consensus among nations as to how to deal with it. And as the scientists see it, there are currently only a few plausible options as to how to reverse and/or stop global warming.
Among those include fertilizing the ocean with iron to grow CO2-eating plankton, and brightening ocean clouds with sea-salt particles to reflect the sun. But the leading contender seems to involve stratospheric aerosol particles.
According to the scientists, the particles would be sun-reflecting sulfates spewed into the lower stratosphere from aircraft, balloons or other devices. This experimentation with clouds or localized solar “dimming” could have the adverse effect of causing droughts or floods in some areas, the scientists admitted.
However, an Australian economist-ethicist Clive Hamilton who was present for the discussions said that if research proves the stratospheric pollutants can reverse global warming, unhappy people “would realize the alternative to reducing emissions is blocking out the sun,” and “We might never see blue sky again.”
That’s an awful thought.
Via Huffington Post