Can Global Warming Be Averted Artificially ?


A controversial proposal to cool the planet artificially by injecting tiny reflective particles into the upper atmosphere which block out sunlight would cause droughts and climate chaos in the poorest countries of the world, a study has found.

One of the plans to "geoengineer" the global climate would in effect create another climate catastrophe, according to a computer model of the plan.

Some climate researchers have suggested that mimicking the cooling effects of volcanic eruptions with massive injections of sulphate particles into the atmosphere may be necessary in an emergency if global temperatures and carbon dioxide levels continue to rise unabated.

It is known that the sulphate particles produced by volcanoes, which are relatively quickly washed out of the atmosphere, can reduce incoming solar radiation significantly, and so cause average global temperatures to dip.

However, a study by scientists at Reading University has found that the effect of a massive and continuous injection of sulphates into the air would be to alter the rainfall patterns over vast regions of the world, notably Africa, South America and Asia which could as a result be devastated by drought.

We have shown that one of the leading candidates for geo-engineering could cause a new unintended side-effect over a large part of the planet, said Andrew Charlton-Perez of the University of Reading, a co-author of the study.

"The risks from this kind of geo-engineering are huge. A reduction in tropical rainfall of 30% would, for example, quickly dry out Indonesia so much that even the wettest years after a man-made intervention would be equal to drought conditions now," Charlton-Perez said. "The ecosystems of the tropics are among the most fragile on Earth.

We would see changes happening so quickly that there would be little time for people to adapt. Discussion of geo-engineering often prompts heated debate, but very often there is a lack of understanding of what putting large amounts of aerosol in the stratosphere will do to the complex climate system. Our findings should help to fill in some of the gaps about one of the leading candidates," he said.

Volcanoes, such as Mt Pinatubo eruption in 1991, can cool average global temperatures significantly for short periods, but to reverse the expected 4C rise in temperatures as a result of global warming would need large quantities of sulphate aerosols to be injected into the upper atmosphere for several years.

By Steve Connor


Can Global Warming Be Averted Artificially ? Can Global Warming Be Averted Artificially ? Reviewed by Daniel Weaver on Friday, October 10, 2014 Rating: 5

Featured Posts

[Future][feat1]