Social Media Sidebar


Please sign up, comment on articles and bring your friends!

Current poll

PlanetTech is asking:

What do you think about our new web site?

Love it, indeed
Really good solution
Same as old one
The old one was better
This is a new option

Quote of the day

Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.


Thomas Edison

Who should be allowed to engineer our climate?

Posted in Science on 7th Dec, 2013 02:52 AM by AlexMuller

The theory is simple: a plane sprays sulfate aerosols into the atmosphere, building a reflective layer that blocks a small portion of the sun’s energy, thus cooling the globe.


There’s plenty of support for the theory, including a few sulfate-spewing volcanoes which have cooled the globe in the past, but it’s still unclear how it would work in practice. It’s generally accepted that the sulfates would disappear from the atmosphere within a few years, but more complex effects remain unknown.

The next step is to test the idea in the atmosphere with small drops over the course of a few days, but that proposal is still extremely controversial. It’s easy to see why critics are nervous. In the wrong hands, solar radiation management has the potential to destroy the planet's ecosystem entirely. The danger of a sulfate-triggered global drought or an accidental ice age is very real, and the climate is too complex to predict on a global scale. More than that, it’s still unclear exactly how governments would use this technology. Like the nuclear bomb, geoengineering would require a kind of global governance that simply doesn’t exist yet, and many climate activists see the climate-engineering cure as worse than the disease.
Keith's ideal plan is simple enough: a slow ramp-up in sulfate drops over decades, giving the human race more time to quit fossil fuels and the planet's ecosystem time to adapt to higher temperatures. Once carbon emissions stopped around 2070, the sulfate drops would phase out, ending completely by 2120. Warming would still be a problem, of course, but geoengineering would let it come on slowly, giving ecosystems time to evolve and avoiding the destructive climate shocks that some studies predict. And by phasing out the action, Keith would avoid the dangers of an open-ended program in which warming worsens over centuries as geoengineering efforts face diminishing returns.
The century-long respite, in contrast, seems like a potentially useful weapon in the fight against a warming climate. Still, it rests on dozens of potentially dicey decisions. Will the world actually be ready to quit fossil fuels by 2070? When the moment comes to start reducing the sulfate drops, warming an already sweltering globe, will world leaders lose their nerve? Will the new politics of weather force governments into rash decisions such as drying out the climate after storms or nixing the project entirely in response to a single dry season? Behind all of those questions is an even bigger one: who will make the choice? When charting a course for the entire planet, who can we trust to take the wheel?

Tags: geoengineeringclimate changeglobal warmingCO2greenhouse effectsulfate aerosol

Read original article » Back to category



Recent headlines

  • Posted in Science on 2019-01-05 00:26:50
    China Lands Chang'e 4 on the Far Side of the more
    Posted in Science on 2018-12-31 00:24:45
    Support for Human Gene Editing to Fix Diseases in more
    Posted in Science on 2018-12-31 00:15:06
    Will Mimicking The Nervous System Advance more
    Posted in Science on 2018-12-26 15:04:48
    NASA Gives Us Sugar in Space to Confirm Building more
    Posted in Business on 2018-12-21 22:48:10
    US Air Force Funds SpaceX Starlink For $28.7 more
Posted in Business on 2013-10-10 01:33
China is working towards a manned lunar mission in more
Posted in Business on 2013-10-20 07:17
Spacex says China is their main competitor for more
Posted in Software on 2013-10-20 06:43
Pirate Bay Browser Clocks 1,000,000 more
Posted in Medicine on 2013-10-10 02:10
Google reportedly investing hundreds of millions into more
Posted in Medicine on 2013-10-14 03:13
Endothelial Cells Can Repair and Regenerate Organs, more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Spacex says China is their main competitor for more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Staring at Your Phone Could Be Making You Short more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Oculus Rift virtual reality headset coming to mobile, more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
China is working towards a manned lunar mission in more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Delivering drugs via nanoparticles to target more

Recent Blog Posts

  • Posted by AlexMuller
    Even light drinking increases risk of more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Researchers have discovered how to slow more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Human retinas grown in a dish explain how color vision more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    The smartphone app that can tell you’re depressed before more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Neural networks don’t understand what optical illusions more

Login to your Account

Login to your PlanetTech Account here

Remember me

Create a New Account

You just need username and password

The following errors occured:
Verify password:
Remember me