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We could spray cheap chemicals into the air to slow climate change. Should we?

Earth is getting warmer. Man does not do enough to stop it. So, musicians are increasingly musical about carrying out…

Earth is getting warmer. Man does not do enough to stop it. So, musicians are increasingly musical about carrying out dramatic interference in the atmosphere to cool the planet. And new research suggests that a project of atmospheric cooling would not only be feasible but also cheap enough for a single country to pull it off. That cooling would not restore climate change. Greenhouse gases would still be there. The planet would keep warm overall, but that warming would decrease significantly, measurably.

These are the conclusions of a paper published November 23 in the journal Environmental Research Letters by a pair of researchers from Harvard and Yale University. It is the deepest and most current study than “stratospheric aerosol injection” (also known as “sunbathing” or “solar technology”). It is the spray of chemicals in the atmosphere to reflect the heat of the sun back into space, which simulates the global cooling effects of major volcanic eruptions.

The researchers found that humanity, using this method, could cut our species’s annual contribution to the greenhouse effect in half at a price that states and big cities spend on highways, subways and other infrastructure projects, a total of around $ 3.5 billion below the next 1

5 years to develop the technology. (Most of these funds would go into building plans that could carry big tanks of aerosol spray in the stratosphere, about twice as much as a Boeing 747.) When the technology was completed, the researchers discovered that the project would cost another $ 2.25 billion or so each the following year (provided that the effort would run for the next 15 years).

By comparison, the budget of the Department of Transportation in Massachusetts in 2017 was 1.8 billion dollars. Texas will have spent almost a billion dollars replacing a single bridge in Corpus Christi. New York City metro-repair budgets run routinely in tens of billions of dollars. Belgium spends about $ 4 billion a year on its military. Geoengineering The atmosphere of slow climate change is, in other words, inexpensive enough that a small state or country could afford to do it, not to mention a superpower like the United States or China. [8 Ways Global Warming Is Already Changing the World]

It may seem nuts, but outside researchers who read the newspaper said that its methods were healthy and its conclusions not surprisingly.

“[The paper] seemed reasonable and methodical to me,” said Kate Ricke, a professor at the University of California, San Diego, studying climate change and policy to deal with it. “I think it’s definitely a good contribution, as it confirms this idea that stratospheric technology would be much cheaper than emission reductions for the same global temperature effect.”

Ken Caldeira, senior researcher at Carnegie Institution for Science, agreed on “

” One can expect some government activities to exceed costs, but overall, I have no reason to question these results. They seem reasonable to me, “he said to Live Science.

The science here is simply uncomplicated: Dump sulfur dioxide (SO2) into the atmosphere, and it will reflect the light back into space. SO2 is cheap and there are plenty of it available. Most of the project costs would come from the ceiling SO2 so high that it would get stuck, said Wake Smith, co-author of the magazine and lecturer on Yale. [Cool the Planet? Geoengineering Is Easier Said Than Done]

“If you distribute material at 35,000 feet [10,700 meters] say, where your 737 flyers will rain it back in a few days, because it’s only being traded because of gravity,” he told Live Science . “If you manage it up in the stratosphere, on the other hand, it stays high for a year or 18 months.”

(This is by far one of the reasons for chemtrail’s conspiracy theories – which wrongly link chemtrailer to a secret reign ing plans to modify the weather – so incredible, he added. Everything is sprayed at the heights where jet aircraft would disappear within half a week.)

Still, it’s not an insurmountable challenge to get SO2 high enough, this paper shows, and the approach could really cool down the ground.

But the cooling of the planet is not the same as reversing climate change, researchers explained.

CO2 emissions make much more than just a chemical greenhouse around the world. They also make the oceans more acidic and change the global movement of air and water. Already, these emissions have generated heat in the system, which would not only assume if humanity struck an SO2 layer in the stratosphere. The Craziest Climate Change Fixes ]

“It may be that we can reduce global surface values ​​in total, in relation to where they would be in an untouched world,” Smith said, “but that does not mean that the climate in all places will go back to the way it was. Some places will get warmer, some will get cooler, some will get drier and some get wet and even a perfectly constructed climate that is impossible to change things all over the world, and it will not be good for people either. “

In addition, he said there are points of climatic change that a SO2 bandage would not fix.

“If all the ice in Greenland melted and slipped into the ocean,” said Smith, referring to a scenario that would drastically raise sea levels, flood the coasts all over the world “and then we freeze the planet or cool the planet by constructing the ice not climbing from the sea to the country. The ice in Greenland is the result of millions of years of snowfall. “

So, although he thinks that this type of geoengineering is worth studying, he said it’s important that people understand that it is not a solution.

“I’m worried that some fossil fuels will say exactly that, and the geoengineering community will need to find out how to protect against infiltration or any association in public minds,” he said.

The idea of ​​pumping aerosols into the upper atmosphere to mitigate climate change was seriously taken to the effect that the concept appears in the IPCC’s latest climate change report on climate change as a potentially mitigating approach – even though the IPCC ceased to approve this type of spray. At the moment, it looks cheaper than alternative geoengineering technology, says Ricke, as a proposal to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. (IPCC, or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is an international organization set up by the UN to assess the climate, science, risks and effects of climate change.)

But that does not mean that such approaches will or should happen, the researchers agree.

“I do not think it’s a good idea right now,” said Ricke. “I do not think we know enough about how to do it. And we have nothing close to a system to agree on how much we should do or how to make the decision about specific where we would add more aerosols, etc. I think not that we are anywhere near. “

But all this could change, she said.

“There are very scary climate changes, like melting glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica, staring us in the face,” she said. “Because [cutting emissions] and CO2 removal will take some time, although we are looking at implementing them – which I’m not convinced of – I think that solar geo-engineering has the potential to be one of the only options left.” [19659002] It’s worrying for a number of reasons, Smith said, one of which would almost certainly be side effects that the syringes could not predict. Although an advantage of the spray, he added, it will be as soon as it is stopped, the effects will disappear within 18 months.

Caldeira agreed that the use of such technology looks more and more likely, but said he doubted that it would happen because of the political dynamics involved. No politician, he said, would like to blame for a bad weather that occurred the year after they voted to spray SO2.

“Imagine Hurricane Sandy happened the year after we started putting this material up there,” he said, suggesting that people could put the blame on atmospheric technology.

Still, he said that a small country affected by climate change can decide to do this without global approval. However, the paper noted that such an effort would be impossible to keep secret, and other major countries may decide to stop the project. To do this work properly would require flying across the world’s intermediate latitudes, and it must be indefinite. (Meshing the warming effect of greenhouse gases does not leave them away, and they can last for a thousand years in the atmosphere, unlike sulphates. So, the solar energy must continue to counter these effects.)

“I will not say about [I think we’ll get to the point of atmospheric spraying] “said Smith,” not because there is too much of a hot potato, but because I really do not know “.

Other geo-engineering techniques may be cheaper, or nations might never get over to this type of climate limitation, he said.

Currently, Ricke said the major open questions involved stratospheric chemistry – how sulfur would interact with other chemicals in the atmosphere – and the local effects of this type of program. How would a large new rate of SO2 in the atmosphere, for example, affect the ozone layer? How does individual regions, agriculture or local water systems react to the sudden change in sunlight? How would the public react?

For now she said she wants to see much more research.

Originally published on Live Science.

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