NEW YORK – A 100-plane fleet that makes 4000 global missions a year can help save the world from climate change . It can also be relatively inexpensive. It is the conclusion of a new peer-reviewed study in Environmental Research Letters.
These are stuff of science fiction. Plans spray small sulphate particles into the lower stratosphere, about 60,000 feet upwards. The idea is to help protect the soil from enough sunlight to keep the temperature low.
The researchers examined how practical and expensive a hypothetical solar engineering project would start 1
5 years from now. The aim is that half of the temperature rise is caused by greenhouse gases with heat dissipation.
This method would imitate what major volcanoes do. In 1991, Mount Pinatubo hit the Philippines. It was the second largest outbreak of the 20th century, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
The second largest volcanic eruption in this century and the longest outbreak affecting a densely populated area occurred at Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines on June 15 1991.
In total, the outbreak sprung 20 million tonnes of sulfur dioxide aerosols into the stratosphere. USGS said that the earth’s lower atmospheric temperature dropped by about 1-degree Fahrenheit. The effect lasted only a couple of years because the sulfates eventually fell to the ground.
Although controversial, some believe that attempts to imitate the effects of a volcanic eruption are a viable way to control global warming. This proposed type of climate gene engineering is called stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI). Theoretically, if done in scale – and sustained – the effect can be large. The 1-degree temperature drop that followed Mount Pinatuba’s outbreak equals about half of the human-induced warming the earth has experienced since the industrial revolution began.
 In this handout photo from Climate Central they say that researchers are looking at a variety of techniques – breaking down carbon dioxide from the sky like trees to start giant mirrors in space – to constantly slow global warming.
Dividend via Climate Central
Dr. Gernot Wagner from Harvard University is an author of the paper. He said that their study shows this kind of geoengineering “… would be technically possible strictly from a technical perspective. It would also be remarkably cheap, on average about 2 to 2.5 billion a year in the first 15 years.”  But to reach this point, the study said that a whole new aircraft needs to be developed. Partly because missions would have to be carried out on almost twice as much as commercial aircraft. The co-author of the study, Wake Smith explained, “No existing aircraft have the combination of height and payload capacity required.”
Then the team investigated what it would cost to develop an aircraft that they dubbed SAI Lofter (SAIL). They say that its fuselage would have a stub design and the wing area – like the shock force – would have to be twice as big. Overall, the team estimates the development cost of the aircraft to be $ 2 billion and $ 350 million to change existing engines.
In its hypothetical plan, the fleet would begin with eight planes during the first year and rise to almost 100 within 15 years. During year one there will be 4000 missions, which increase to over 60,000 per year before year 15. As you can see, it needs to be a lasting and escalating effort.
As you can imagine, a concept like this comes with much controversy. Like treatment with fever with aspirin, this kind of technique only treats the symptoms, but it does not solve the cause of the warming: escalating levels of heat-absorbing greenhouse gases produced by combustion of fossil fuels.
The American Meteorological Society (AMS) expressed concern that the possibility of seemingly fast and cheap solutions will distract the public and policy makers from addressing the underlying problems and developing adaptation strategies. And if for some reason aerosol missions ceased, within a few years the temperatures would postpone at breakneck rate. A pace that would probably be too fast for mankind to adjust.
The official political statement by AMS regarding this kind of geoengineering begins with a warning: “Reflective sunlight would likely reduce the Earth’s average temperature but could also change global circulation patterns with potentially serious consequences such as changing storms and precipitation patterns.”
With In other words, the atmosphere is complex. Any help for bandwidth is bound to have unintended consequences and possibly cause a new set of problems. AMS continues to say results of reflective sunlight “would almost certainly not be the same for all nations and people, giving rise to legal, ethical, diplomatic and national security issues.” A region can become a desert, while others are flooded.
And if we learn to control SAI to tailor a favorable outcome, there is the concern that it can be used for the disproportionate benefit of one nation over another. In a study from 2017 in the publication Nature Communications, the authors warn their work “… reemphasizes the dangers of unilateral geoengineering, which may be attractive to individual actors due to greater controllability of local climate responses, but with inherent additional risks elsewhere.”  But perhaps the biggest reason for being skeptical about the sun’s solar radiation is that it is not a silver ball. As the carbon dioxide continues to increase, the oceans become increasingly acidic. According to NOAA, marine contamination can cascade through the marine food chain, reducing the ability of shellfish and reef corals to produce their skeletons. Injection of aerosols into the stratosphere simply limits sunshine, it does not cope with the underlying carbon dioxide build-up. The sea would continue to acidify.
Despite the potential disadvantages, AMS – even with aggressive limitation – acknowledges that we can not avoid any dangerous consequences of climate change already backed into the system. In addition, the extent of human adaptation is limited. Therefore, they call for caution and continued research.
The statement of the AMS policy ends with: “Geoengineering will not replace either aggressive or proactive adaptation, but it can contribute to a comprehensive risk management strategy to reduce climate change and alleviate some of its negative effects. The potential to help society deal with climate change and the risks of negative consequences imply the need for adequate research, appropriate regulation and transparent deliberation. “