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Geoengineering Could Solve Climate Change, Say Scientists


Solar geoengineering sounds like the stuff of science fiction, using balloons or jets to introduce an atmospheric sunshade to stop global warming. A group of scientists from developing countries interested in solar geoengineering demanded to have a greater say in the direction of research into climate change, arguing that their countries have the most at stake.

Natural events like smoke from forest fires and volcanic eruptions, and manmade pollution can create a cooling effect by releasing aerosols in the atmosphere. This cooling effect has been known as “ship tracks” – narrow artificial clouds of pollution created by the emissions from ships. Shiptracks contain more and smaller water droplets than typical clouds and are brighter and more reflective of sunlight.

This led scientists to propose an experiment that mimics this phenomenon by injecting aerosol particles into the stratosphere to reflect away inbound sunlight. This method is being discussed to slow, stop or even reverse global warming within one or two years.

The controversial technique needs further research to determine what the effects would be: it could be very helpful or very harmful.

Developing countries including Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Ethiopia, India, Jamaica and Thailand have the most to gain or lose. These are the countries which would likely have the most heat-related deaths related to global warming written about in a previous blog post.

Dr. Atiq Rahman, director of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies said:

“Clearly [solar radiation management geoengineering] could be dangerous, but we need to know whether, for countries like Bangladesh, it would be more or less risky than passing the 1.5C warming goal. This matters greatly to people from developing countries and our voices need to be heard. …”

Research Funding

The solar geoengineering studies may be helped by a new $400,000 research project funded by the Open Philanthropy Project. This is the first project of its kind that has issued a call for scientists to apply for finance this week.

The fund could help scientists in developing nations study the regional impacts of solar geoengineering, for instance on droughts, floods or monsoons.

[via The Guardian]

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