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Science Discussion: Air Cooling Tech as Climate Backup

Nikola Gemeš

April 13, 2021
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The National Academy of Sciences said that the U.S. must consider the idea of “hacking” the atmosphere to cool a warming Earth.

The report by the academy, set up by Abraham Lincoln, calls for an emergency plan because climate change-driven extreme weather has worsened since 2015, the last time the academy looked into the issue.

According to Los Angeles Times, the reports suggest three possible ways to cool the air: dispersing heat-reflecting particles in the stratosphere, changing the brightness of ocean clouds, and thinning high clouds.

“Climate engineering is a really dumb idea, but it might not be as dumb as doing nothing at this point or continuing to do what we’ve been doing,” said Scripps Institution of Oceanography atmospheric chemist Lynn Russell, a co-author of the report. “It has a lot of risks and those are important to learn as much as we can about.”

The panel recommended increasing research spending to $40 million a year, along with exit ramps to end the study if an unaccepted risk is found.

Critics, such as Oxford University’s Raymond Pierrehumbert, are worried that there’s a moral hazard in using questionable technology to tamper with Earth’s atmosphere instead of necessary cutting back on carbon pollution.

The term geoengineering wrongly makes us believe that we can control heat like a thermostat does.

So instead of trying to crank down on the planet’s heat, how about we look into those emissions?


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