Hiding the problem with smoke and mirrors…

Solar shield could be quick fix for global warming – earth – 05 June 2007 – New Scientist Environment
* 15:35 05 June 2007
* NewScientist.com news service
* Catherine Brahic

A solar shield that reflects some of the Sun’s radiation back into space would cool the climate within a decade and could be a quick-fix solution to climate change, researchers say.

Because of their rapid effect, however, they should be deployed only as a last resort when “dangerous” climate change is imminent, they warn.

Solar shields are not a new idea – such “geoengineering” schemes to artificially cool the Earth’s climate are receiving growing interest, and include proposals to inject reflective aerosols into the stratosphere, deploying space-based solar reflectors and large-scale cloud seeding.

The shields are inspired by the cooling effects of large volcanic eruptions that blast sulphate particles into the stratosphere. There, the particles reflect part of the Sun’s radiation back into space, reducing the amount of heat that reaches the atmosphere, and so dampening the greenhouse effect.

The 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines cooled Earth by a few tenths of a degree for several decades.

While this idea is leaps and bounds better than venting our atmosphere into space… It does have two critical flaws:

  1. It does nothing to help that the rising CO2 levels are causing our ocean water to become more acidic, which is killing off coral reefs.
  2. In fact, the solar shield could reduce the amount of light making it to plants, adversely affecting their ability to bind Carbon from CO2 in the atmosphere. This would only aggravate the problems we already have.

Hey, try these on for size… Close the SUV loophole in the emissions laws! Consume less! Take public transportation more! Require office buildings to turn their computers, as well as their lights, off at night! There are a thousand little things that individuals and businesses can do that are easier, and make more sense, than hiding the planet behind a set of mirrors.

-Chris Knight

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