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For decades, the climate conversation has been very predictable. Scientists warn we must cut carbon emissions or the planet will keep warming. But politicians — and voters — are reluctant to make big changes.
This is true even though the bad consequences of climate change are already with us — huge wildfires; typhoons becoming stronger. There’s still no taste for change.
Twenty years from now, that’s likely to stay the same. Some people will push for change, but many will deny the need for change or say it isn’t a top priority.
In the end, humanity will only have last-ditch solutions.
One last-ditch solution is solar engineering. Basically, we load airplanes with particles like calcium carbonate to spray into the atmosphere. The particles dim the sun’s rays, cooling the Earth. The advantage is that it would be fast. We know this because it has happened before: When Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991, it spewed about 17 megatons of sun-dimming particles into the sky, cooling the global temperature by about 0.5 Celsius for around 18 months.
Now, a group of Harvard scientists wants to start a solar geoengineering program. They plan to launch a test balloon into the sky around June as a first step.
“There is a real potential, maybe a significant potential, to reduce the risks of climate change this century — by a lot,” David Keith, one of the lead scientists of the Harvard effort, told the journal Science last December.
Of course, there are disadvantages. Dimming the sun could reduce the amount of food farmers can grow and make solar panels less effective. But if we leave things too long, then the only options left for us will be desperate ones. (T)
This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.