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Climate: Giant space-based mirrors? Probably not

Study finds reducing emissions is the best way to slow global warming

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Staff Report

FRISCO — In case anyone was thinking that humanity can engineer its way out of the global warming crisis, a new study by scientists with UCLA and other universities has found that the only thing that will really work is a significant reduction greenhouse gas emissions.

Positioning giant mirrors in space to reduce the amount of sunlight being trapped in the earth’s atmosphere or seeding clouds to reduce the amount of light entering earth’s atmosphere are not likely to be effective or practical in slowing global warming. Continue reading

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Climate hacking could disrupt monsoons

A classic monsoonal flow of moisture, moving clockwise around a

Geoengineering the climate could disrupt monsoon rainfall in North America and other parts of the world.

Study says geoengineering doesn’t offer a win-win solution

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Trying to hack Earth’s climate by shading the planet could reduce total global precipitation by more than 4 percent, according to researchers with the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

The impacts of trying to deflect incoming solar radiation by injecting sulfates into the atmosphere would be most pronounced in seasonal monsoon precipitation. According to the NCAR-led study, monsoonal rains in North America, East Asia, and other regions could be reduced by 5-7 percent compared to preindustrial conditions. Globally, average precipitation could decrease by about 4.5 percent.

“Geoengineering the planet doesn’t cure the problem,” said NCAR scientist Simone Tilmes, lead author of the study. “Even if one of these techniques could keep global temperatures approximately balanced, precipitation would not return to preindustrial conditions.” Continue reading

Climate: Study shows possible pitfalls of ‘seeding’ oceans

Stimulating phytoplankton could backfire

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By Summit Voice
One of the ideas that has surfaced most often is adding certain types of nutrients to the oceans to stimulate algae production in the hopes of reducing CO2. But new research shows that the law of unintended consequences always applies, perhaps even more so when experimenting with climate on a global scale.

The new study on the feeding habits of ocean microbes shows that the idea could backfire by disturbing the natural balance of ocean chemistry. After carefully studying diatoms, one type of plankton, the scientists determined that it is uses more iron that it needs for photosynthesis and storing the extra in its silica skeletons and shells. This reduces the amount of iron left over to support the carbon-eating plankton.

“Just like someone walking through a buffet line who takes the last two pieces of cake, even though they know they’ll only eat one, they’re hogging the food,” said Ellery Ingall, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and co-lead author on this result.  “Everyone else in line gets nothing; the person’s decision affects these other people.” Continue reading

Climate change: scientists ponder cloud brightening

Geoengineering idea floated as a way to slow global warming

Could brightening clouds help slow the march of global warming? Photo courtesy NOAA.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — With international efforts to limit heat-trapping greenhouse gases faltering, some scientists say it’s worth at least exploring the concept of creating clouds that might reflect sunlight to counter global warming.

Geoengineering has always had a few proponents, as there are always some people who think that we can engineer our way out of any problem. But many of the ideas floated as possible solutions to global warming are just vague theories at best, with little evidence that they could work.

Now, University of Washington atmospheric physicist Rob Wood describes a possible way to run an experiment to test the concept of cloud brightening on a small scale. His idea is described in a paper published this month in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

Wood makes it clear he’s not advocating for geoengineering, but wants to encourage more scientists to consider the idea of marine cloud brightening and even poke holes in it. Continue reading

UN biodiversity panel says no to ‘climate hacking’

Geoengineering could pose severe risks to the planet's biodiversity, according to delegates at a global biodiversity conference in Japan.

Futuristic schemes to block solar radiation, and similar measures, should be debated in the UN

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Delegates from the 193-member UN Convention on Biological Diversity will close their 10-day meeting in Japan by considering a de facto moratorium on geoengineering projects and experiments aimed at slowing the pace of global warming.

“Any private or public experimentation or adventurism intended to manipulate the planetary thermostat will be in violation of this carefully crafted UN consensus,” said Silvia Ribeiro, Latin American Director of ETC Group, a nonprofit watchdog group.

Geoengineering refers to large-scale attempts to regulate the planet’s climate with measures like the application of nutrients to the oceans, or futuristic proposals to block a percentage of solar radiation via large-scale interventions in the atmosphere, stratosphere and outer space that would alter global temperatures and precipitation patterns. Continue reading

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