Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing scientists around the world right now, and so far nobody has conjured up an easy way to combat mankind’s contribution to the problem — at least not one everybody will sign off on. (And that’s not even counting some of our fine American politicians who don’t believe in global warming, or seemingly anything else with the whiff of science about it.) The Massachusetts Daily Collegian reports that a group of British scientists has conjured up a new method to tackle the problem, and it’s something straight out of science fiction. They want to seed the Earth’s atmosphere with aerosol particles, which would theoretically create an artificial haze that would reflect some portion of sunlight away from our planet.
The Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering Program (yep…SPICE) would use blimps or planes to disperse this reflective layer in an effort to drop the Earth’s temperature by a couple of degrees, thus countering some of the effects of global warming. This artificial process would create a manmade version of the same phenomenon that happens after a volcanic explosion, when sulfur dioxide is blasted into the sky and can cool the climate. The theoretical process even has a snappy, mad science-y name: sunshade geo-engineering.
Not everybody is on board with this plan, clever though it sounds. The naysayers warn that blocking out a portion of sunlight could affect everything from crop yields to ozone levels to precipitation levels. Even if it works and alleviates some of global warming’s effects, it wouldn’t address some of the non-atmospheric problems carbon emissions cause, such as rising acidity levels in our oceans. And those are just the potential problems we’ve thought of.
All in all, I think we might be better off using Mr. Burns’ plan.