A few months ago we posted “5 Crazy Ways To Stop Climate Change” – a list of geoengineering concepts put forward to stop the planet from warming. One of the ideas was to essentially “wrap Greenland in a blanket” in order to reflect the sun’s rays back into space and prevent the country’s glaciers from melting. While it sounds insane, a new study published this week in the journal Environmental Research Letters reveals that reflecting sunlight back into space is actually “the cheapest way for us to combat global warming”.
In the report, researchers Justin McClellan from Aurora Flight Science Corporation, David W Keith from Harvard University and Jay Apt from Carnegie Mellon University estimate that it would cost the planet’s governments$1.5 billion a year to shield the earth from the sun’s raysusing a SRM (solar radiation management) system. Instead, they propose a radical geoengineering plan to create a chemical cloud that is capable of reflecting sunlight away from earth and back into space.
It is a bold idea and one that is quite bizarre to explain. The team aims to essentially shoot rockets full of sulphur and other chemicals up to 19 miles above the planet. These chemicals would then create clouds which would (in theory) reflect sunlight away from the earth and slow the effects of global warming.
As with any of the strangest geoengineering projects, this ‘reflection cloud’ concept has its fair share of critics, but the research team is holding firm. “Such a claim could be sensibly made only after thorough investigation of the implications of risks and of the imperfect climate compensation offered by SRM,” they said recently.
Of course, reflecting sunlight back into space does nothing to address the increasing amount of CO2 being released into the atmosphere or other pollutants contaminating our air and water.
+ Environmental Research Letters
Images: Randy OHC; Sun and Earth, Shutterstock