Scientists are proposing a clever but unproven way to deal with climate change: spraying the sun's chemical dimming into the Earth's atmosphere.
CNN reported that research by scientists at Harvard and Yale University, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, proposed using a technique known as stratospheric aerosol injection, which they say could reduce the rate of global warming by half.
This technique will involve spraying large amounts of sulfate particles into the Earth's lower stratosphere at a height of 12 miles. Scientists propose sulfate shipments with specially designed high-flying aircraft, large balloons or naval weapons.
Even though technology is not yet developed and without existing planes suitable for adaptation, the researchers say that "developing new tankers, which are made purposeful with large payload capabilities will not be technically difficult and not too expensive."
They estimate that the total cost of launching a hypothetical system in 15 years is around $ 3.5 billion, with operational costs of $ 2.25 billion per year over a period of 15 years.
However, the report acknowledges that this technique is purely hypothetical.
"We did not make an assessment of the wishes of SAI," said the report. "We only point out that a hypothetical deployment program that began 15 years later, while both were very uncertain and ambitious, would be technically possible from an engineering perspective. It's also very cheap. "
The researchers also recognized the potential risks: coordination between several countries in both hemispheres would be needed, and the technique of stratospheric aerosol injection could endanger crop yields, cause drought or cause extreme weather.
The proposal also does not address the issue of increasing greenhouse gas emissions, which are a major cause of global warming.
And regardless of the author's belief in the report, other experts were skeptical.
"From a climate economics point of view, management of solar radiation is still a far worse solution than greenhouse gas emissions: more expensive and far more risky in the long run," said Philippe Thalmann of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, an expert in climate change economics .
David Archer from the Department of Geophysics at the University of Chicago said, "The problem with climate engineering in this way is that it is only a temporary Band-Aid that covers a problem that will last forever, actually hundreds of thousands of years for fossil CO2 fuels eventually disappear naturally.
"It would be tempting to continue to delay cleaning our energy system, but we will leave the planet in the form of life support. If future generations fail to pay their climate bills, they will get all of our warming at once. "