reflecting sun rays to fight climate change


Deflecting sun’s rays to cool overheating Earth needs study, say scientists.

A group of scientists led by the well-known former Nasa climate researcher James Hansen believe that the controversial idea of deliberately deflecting the sun’s rays in order to cool an Earth that is too hot should be investigated more thoroughly.

Due to a failure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is “increasingly unlikely” that the world will remain below 2 degrees Celsius of warming beyond pre-industrial times. This necessitates a “rigorous, rapid scientific assessment” of previously absurd proposals for solar geoengineering to provide rapid cooling, according to an open letter from more than 60 scientists from the United States, Canada, and Europe.

Hansen, a seasoned climate scientist who is credited with alerting the world to the perilous escalation of global temperature in the 1980s, is one of the signatories of the letter. Even though they make it abundantly clear that reducing emissions is the most important thing, the scientists argue that before a nation attempts geoengineering, also known as solar radiation management, (SRM), it is necessary to comprehend all of its repercussions.

“Since decisions on whether or not to implement SRM are likely to be considered in the next one to two decades, a robust international scientific assessment of SRM approaches is needed as rapidly as possible,” the letter states.

The brightening of clouds to make them more reflective of sunlight is one potential climate intervention to try to artificially reduce global warming; however, the most likely option that scientists are considering is the spraying of aerosol particles into the stratosphere, such as sulphur.

Although they would only linger for a short time, these particles would deflect the sun’s rays and rapidly cool the planet by one degree Celsius or even more. This would necessitate an ongoing series of aircraft trips to spray additional aerosols and replenish the reflective material.

Solar geoengineering has never been fully tested and has faced strong opposition when it has been attempted due to fears of unknown environmental knock-on impacts and concerns over the lack of governance surrounding the practice. The basic mechanism behind this is well understood; similarly, volcanic eruptions cause sunlight to dim.

In any case, with legislatures actually neglecting to slice discharges rapidly to the point of keeping away from heartbreaking environmental change, support has among a few strong elements to explore, while perhaps not completely convey, sun powered geoengineering. The US government has previously started off an exploration survey of environment intercessions and, on Monday, the Unified Countries’ Current circumstance Program (Unep) likewise delivered a report calling for additional investigation of the choices.

The report states that spraying reflective particles “is the only known approach that could be used to cool the Earth within a few years” and that it would cost tens of billions of dollars a year, ongoing, to achieve a 1C reduction in global temperatures.

However, it also acknowledges a lengthy list of potential threats, including damage to the ozone layer, the possibility of power imbalances and international conflicts, and the possibility of “termination shock,” in which a sudden halt to the spraying of the particles would unleash a burst of stored global heat.

“Make no mistake: there are no quick fixes to the climate crisis,” wrote Inger Andersen, executive director of Unep, in the report’s foreword. “Yet current efforts remain insufficient. As a result, increasing voices are calling for and preparing alternative ‘emergency’ options to keep global temperature rise in check.”

Andersen wrote there is little research on the large-scale adoption of solar geoengineering and that it is “fraught with scientific uncertainties and ethical issues”. This “speculative technology” should not be a considered a substitute for cutting emissions and does not remove carbon from the atmosphere, merely masking the warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels, she added.

Solar geoengineering opponents expressed concern over the apparent momentum for its advancement and urged governments to follow Mexico’s recent ban on the technology’s experiments. A document calling for a non-use agreement for solar geoengineering has been signed by over 400 scientists.

“There are definitely a handful of proponents actively pushing for a normalisation of solar geoengineering as a climate response option [and] a few serious scientists who are coming to this from a point of despair,” said Lili Fuhr, deputy director of climate and energy at the Center for International Environmental Law.

“The idea that we could take control of the global thermostat and dial down temperature levels to a desired state has been debunked by the scientific community again and again. But it is a very attractive idea for big polluters and governments who are unwilling to invest in the radical system change transformation that is so urgently needed.”



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