Solar Geoengineering is considered a risky business.
A fairly sophisticated concept – to use a flash, plane, or other means to load the earth's atmosphere with particles or droplets that reflect sunlight and cool the planet-enter the mainstream conversation as a means of changing ruthless climate change if our efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions or not to pulverize But geoengineering patterns come with a multitude of dangers. A number of studies have highlighted the painful effects of interfering with the sun's entry on the Earth, including large crop production, the likelihood of unanticipated side effects and a critically weakened water cycle that can cause falling in precipitation and widespread drought.
However, a new study, published in the journal Natural climate change, recognizes these problems, but finds a potential rectifier: only deploying enough reflective points in the atmosphere to reduce about half of Earth's warming, rather than relying on geoengineering to fully restore Earth's colder, milder climate to the 19th century. In other words, the Earth is given a geoengineering dose that will turn the significant amount of warming, but it is not enough to trigger the troublesome side effects.
"We wanted to clear up if some of the problems we saw were due to too much geo-engineering," said Peter Irwin, PhD at Harvard University, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences John A. Paulson and the main author of the study.
In the early 2000's, the term geoengineering sounded like a "really strange idea," acknowledged Irwin. But this new study, built on other studies, shows that such a planetary enterprise – if applied carefully, gradually and with careful dosing – may not be so exaggerated.
"It looks surprising, it works pretty well," Irwin said.
"I do not think it makes sense to do it now," said David Keith, a Harvard University Solar Engineer and co-author of the study. "And if it does not make sense, we should not do it," he added, noting that geo-engineering deployment is likely to be another two decades.
"This is the type of work that researchers need to do to understand the potential climate impacts of solar geoengineering," said John Proctor, who is investigating the impact of geoengineering on agriculture and had no role in the study. "However, we are still far from understanding the full costs and benefits of solar geoengineering to economic and environmental well-being," added Proctor, Ph.D. candidate for agriculture and resource economy of UK Berkeley.
The study's researchers visited the super-advanced climate model of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at the Geophysical Laboratory for Fluid Dynamics to simulate the future climate on Earth to see how to provide a "half-dose" of geoengineering. In particular, they have doubled the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (from the 1990 levels), and then "rejected the sun," so to speak, to mimic the effects of solar geo-engineering in such conditions.
The results reduced Earth's warming by about half. And critically, the effect of cooling has not caused the chaos of the Earth's water system by reducing precipitation in vast regions around the world. In such a carbon-saturated atmosphere, simulated geoengineering also alleviated the extreme, mutilated divisions (which are becoming more common as the climate warms up) and reduces the intensity of hurricanes. "By selecting half the warming, we will come closer to restoring the water cycle," Irwin said.
A smaller proportion of the world – about half a percent – saw an urge in extreme weather triggered by climate change.
Such geoengineering, of course, will not solve all environmental problems on the planet in a warmer world. "No – it's not perfect," Irwin said. But halving halting can reduce the extreme weather conditions that have occurred with the highest levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The earth has lived for millions of years. Already, CO2 levels on Earth are likely to be the highest in the last 15 million years.
"I hope the paper can be a springboard to re-examine some common assumptions."
The possibility that geoengineering can change the world's water cycle and create a widespread drought is a big red flag, Keith said, but hopes this study shows that such harmful changes can be avoided, although there are still enough studies to be done are made. "I hope the paper can be a springboard to re-examine some common assumptions [about geoengineering], "he said.
Moreover, Keith stressed that this study is not only a co-author of well-known geoengineering researchers such as Keith and Irwin, but various, well-respected scientists from the atmosphere, such as KIRI Emanuel from MIT, a climate researcher. "Having these different names on paper should make it consider it more serious," Keith said.
Coal is the largest carbon intensively fossil fuel and generates ~ 35% of global CO2 emissions.
The UK reduced the use of coal by 78% of 2013 (most often with the addition of renewable energy sources) and as a result reduced total CO2 emissions by 21%.
Eliminating coal is one of the best options for reducing CO2.
– Robert Rode (@RARohde) March 5, 2019
If geogging time comes – in a political climate where climate denial of powerful state functions still make groundless claims that plants need more carbon – Keith stresses that this can not be an emergency, the last effort, like the deployment of a parachute. Whether it is achieved with large meteorological balloons, blamisses or other methods, solar geo-engineering should be done carefully, methodically and gradually.
In short, it is a fantasy that a massive fleeting flash will one day suddenly take to the air and release the prizes of reflecting particles in the sky when cultures fail and the Antarctic will allow an unstoppable flow of ice in the seas.
"Solar engineering may not be a good choice in an emergency," Keith said. "If it makes sense at all, it makes sense to gradually increase."