Climate-change cures may be worse than the disease

[Scientists] are exploring global warming solutions that sound wholly far-fetched, including giant artificial “trees” that would filter carbon dioxide out of the air, a bizarre “solar shade” created by a trillion flying saucers that lower Earth’s temperature, and a scheme that mimics a volcano by spewing light-reflecting sulphates high in the sky.

My favourite of these ‘fixes’ is the solar shade idea, it is by far the most extravagant.

According to Dr. Angel’s paper, just published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, there would have to be a cloud of lenses about 100,000 kilometers long. To accomplish this, we would need to launch an 800,000 unit stack of these every five minutes for ten years.

How much would that cost? You think instead of launching huge stacks of these lenses every 5 minutes for TEN YEARS, we could take those resources and greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Plus we probably have a better understanding of how climate would react if we reduce CO2 and other offending gases, than how it would react to trillions of tiny solar shades.

These are costly projects of last resort — in case Earth’s citizens don’t cut back fast enough on greenhouse gas emissions and the worst of the climate predictions appear not too far away. Unfortunately, the solutions could cause problems of their own — beyond their exorbitant costs — including making the arid Middle East even drier and polluting the air enough to increase respiratory illnesses.

Kevin Trenberth, climate analysis chief at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said mankind already has harmed Earth’s climate inadvertently, so it’s foolish to think that people can now fix it with a few drastic measures.

3 thoughts on “Climate-change cures may be worse than the disease

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  1. Whooee! I was thinkin’ the same thing when I seen Richard Branson offerin’ up a bigass cash reward fer anybuddy who figgers out how t’ pull CO2 outta the air. It’s a lot simpler just t’ not put the CO2 in the air in the first place. These ideas ain’t helpin’. Reduction is the easiest solution. I been readin’ up a lot on nuclear power an’ it ain’t any better than these wacky ideas. If we wanna use nuclear power t’ cut GHG’s, we’ll need t’ build a new nuke plant every week fer the next 200 years.


  2. Actually the artificial tree idea, or more generally, the concept of using carbon scrubbers, isn’t too bad. The technology already exists and is used in submarines and spacecraft. The only problem is how to do it on a sufficiently large enough scale and at a reasonable price.

  3. Actually the artificial tree idea, or more generally, the concept of using carbon scrubbers, isn’t too bad

    Why not use real trees? They also suck carbon out of the atmosphere, and provide plenty of other benefits.

    How many greenhouse gases would be emitted when these things are setup in a sufficiently large enough for them to be effective? Can they scrub enough carbon to overcome the carbon cost of setting them up? I still have many questions, and think that it is probably better to simply reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, as JimBobby so eloquently put it.

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