Science

Scientists Believe Sun-Dimming Can Reduce Global Warming

Sun-Dimming
pixel2013 / Pixabay

Experts around the world continue to research new techniques to fight climate change. One of the latest efforts in reducing global warming effects includes using a yet-unproven sun-dimming technique, which researchers believe would reduce the effects of global warming on Earth.

CNN reports that the recent study on reducing the effects of global warming was conducted by a team at Harvard and Yale universities. The team refers to the sun-dimming technique as a stratospheric aerosol injection, claiming it could reduce global warming by 50%.

Performing the stratospheric aerosol injection would require that Earth’s lower atmosphere, known as the lower stratosphere, be sprayed with sulfates stretching across 12 miles. However, it’s still unclear how the chemicals would be delivered all the way up there.

Nonexistent spacecraft to lift the chemicals

According to CNN, there is currently no aircraft in existence which would suit the needs of transporting the chemicals. However, the team behind the idea is enthusiastic about using balloons, saying that “developing a new, purpose-built tanker with substantial payload capabilities would neither be technologically difficult nor prohibitively expensive.”

The sun-dimming project could cost approximately $3.5 billion for the initial setup, plus an additional $2.25 billion for annual maintenance over 15 years. The price tag, according to the study, is considered “remarkably inexpensive.”

Is it safe?

The researchers acknowledged that their technique has yet to be tested and is still hypothetical. Many question whether we really need more chemicals in our atmosphere. After all, hazardous chemicals in our atmosphere have so far done more harm than good by ripping a massive hole in the ozone layer hole, for example.

Nevertheless, the team behind the study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters remains optimistic about their idea. Unfortunately though, greenhouse gas emissions would still be an issue, even if the technique proves to be useful.

“We make no judgment about the desirability of SAI,” the study reads. “We simply show that a hypothetical deployment program commencing 15 years hence, while both highly uncertain and ambitious, would indeed be technically possible from an engineering perspective. It would also be remarkably inexpensive.”

Experts remain skeptical

Other experts are pretty skeptical about the idea, stating that this study is more like a small bandage applied to a major issue.

“From the point of view of climate economics, solar radiation management is still a much worse solution than greenhouse gas emissions: more costly and much riskier over the long run,” Philippe Thalmann of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, who works in the field of economics of climate change, told CNN.

“The problem with engineering climate in this way is that it’s only a temporary Band-Aid covering a problem that will persist essentially forever, actually hundreds of thousands of years for fossil fuel CO2 to finally go away naturally,” David Archer of the Department of Geophysical Science at the University of Chicago said.

While the sun-dimming technique sounds like an innovative way to fight off the effects of global warming, we can’t forget the main cause of global warming, which is high carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. We can’t blame the sun for our climate change problems while we continue to fill our atmosphere with dangerous gases.