Gallery: Scientists Consider Blocking Out the Sun to Stop Climate Chang...


Britain’s national science academy, the Royal Society, recently organized a conference at Chicheley Hall — 40 miles north of London — where thinkers from around the world gathered to decide if, and how, the international community could implement geoengineering tactics to stop global climate change. If the international community fails to mitigate climate change with policy and infrastructure, we’re going to need to take some drastic measures to keep the planet inhabitable. The attendees at the conference decided that though the full consequences are unknown, the only real plan that would work would be to block out the sun.

The attendees’ backgrounds each matched an obstacle that would need to be hurdled if geoengineering became a reality. Physicists, oceanographers and geochemists who would need to plan the science behind blocking out the sun were present. Environmentalists who would determine the effect on the earth were also there. International lawyers, psychologists and policy experts who would determine the effects on the international community and human psyches showed up as well. Last year, policy makers in the US and Great Britain warned — after the disappointing COP 15 conference — that a “Plan B” would need to be ready if the international climate change talks kept failing. This conference was Britain’s response to that request and they gathered thinkers from six continents to try to plot a plan.

The Chicheley Hall thinkers were decidedly wary about entering into these seemingly necessary discussions but were realistic about the fact that it’s best to start the study now, instead of when it is too late. “If we don’t understand the implications and we reach a crisis point and deploy geoengineering with only a modicum of information, we really will be playing Russian roulette,” noted Steven Hamburg, a U.S. Environmental Defense Fund scientist. There are many directions you can take with geoengineering but as climatologist John Shepherd of Britain’s Southampton University said, “by most accounts, the leading contender is stratospheric aerosol particles.”

The tactic would involve a very long tube, aircrafts or giant balloons that would be positioned to shoot sun-reflecting sulfates into the lower stratosphere that would essentially block out the sun’s rays — much like sulfur from volcanic explosions. Scientists on hand noted that this tactic would also have to come with a drastic reduction in carbon emissions on earth as you wouldn’t want to indefinitely have to feed the atmosphere with increasing amounts of sulfates. Discussions at the conference ultimately landed on the fact that this research needs to be conducted in some sort of an international science consortium — if one country goes out and starts shooting stuff into the sky, everyone else will be affected and likely very upset. Though this tactic might save the earth, it could mean that no human would ever see blue sky again.

Via The Huffington Post


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  1. 1337master April 15, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    they’re already doing this you know, they put aluminum particles in jet fuel for exactly this purpose all you have to do is look up to see it

  2. krill April 12, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    What about rain forests? And what about like, the OTHER approximated 100-500 million species living on the planet? What about them?

  3. mercurydan April 10, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    i like how we think that nuclear is better for the environment and carbon dioxide is bad. for anyone that knows about environmental science would see this as really backwards. for one thing without carbon dioxide we wouldnt be alive today. So it seems like this is the new backwards thinking where sulphates are good and the sun is bad. i just want to know when we will wake up

  4. chris offspring April 9, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    someone watched matrix…

    it’s completely unclear to me why anyone in their right mind would pollute the atmosphere to save the atmosphere from pollution…thats like fighting for peace (or f***ing for virginity)

    if you want to block out the sun, do it right and install mirrors in space…which means: find means to get into space without the need of fuel eating rockets

    oh and btw: block out the sun and you creat a lot of paperweights currently called solar panels, which ultimately means that we need more fossil fuel consuming plants to compensate…

  5. caeman April 9, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Think of all the fuel saved by those planes not flying! All that CO2 not released! It was the green dream in action, no? People were forced to use trains and ships.

  6. resolute April 9, 2011 at 4:53 am

    ro caeman
    you are wrong.. haven’t you learned from what happened not so long ago in Iceland. I can see the picture of the aftermath – everyone walking around in the gas masks and the surroundings covered in layers of ash

  7. resolute April 9, 2011 at 4:49 am

    I would rather die under the sun then see this beauty disappear.

  8. Captain Ob April 8, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    This is nothing more than a remarkably incompetent political maneuver. Being a bunch of drama queens isn’t going to save the planet, it’s just going to polarize the uneducated either for or against climate science.

    Grow the hell up.

  9. caeman April 8, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Pfft. Those scientists have a long way to go if they want to be true mad scientists. If I were to want to pollute the atmosphere with particulate matter such as to reduce the incoming sun for a few years, I would do it nature’s way: the volcano. A few carefully place bombs in 3 to 7 volcanoes around the planet would send enough ash into the air to drop average global temps by 5 degrees.

  10. Greengeek April 8, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    This is one of the stupider geoengineering schemes out there. The potential for permanent damage to the planet is very high, and it completely ignores the other aspect of our carbon emissions: ocean acidification. This is a much more immediate threat, but is often completely ignored. Blocking out the sun didn’t turn out so well for Mr. Burns, we won’t fare any better.

  11. caeman April 8, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    There as no Highlander II.

    There should have only been one.

  12. anneawong April 8, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Didn’t they already try this in Highlander II?

  13. bytheby April 8, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Ummm, this is the first step in the new renaissance when the machines take over and construct the matrix…I’m just sayin’

  14. slitherly April 8, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    I read an interesting article on Sun spots and how they affect earth’s climate also. Perhaps we know too little of the effects of the solar system on our planet to determine the long range results of any such plan.

  15. caeman April 8, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Can we try this on a planet that we don’t live on, first, please? My current home planet is screwed up enough as it is without some mad scientists shooting reflective particles in the atmosphere and blocking the sun from my tomato garden.

  16. Malik Betton April 8, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    OMG, futuristic much?

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