Sunday, May 9, 2010

Climate change - Artificial clouds as the solution?

One of the richest men in the world, Bill Gates, is funding research into devices that would be able to suck up ten tonnes of seawater every second and spray it upwards which would enable the creation of white clouds to reflect the Sun’s rays away from Earth thus preventing the further warming of our planet. This technology is called sunshielding technology, and the first trials to test this technology are already being planned.

Given that the new climate deal doesn't look very likely to be agreed in the next few years it is very realistic to expect that carbon emissions will continue to rise which means that science has to consider every possible action to tackle climate change. When it comes to sunshielding technology then many scientists will tell you that this is probably the most benign of all geoengineering technologies (different artificial methods to cool our planet).

Last year's study has revealed the potential of sunshielding technology and according to the results of this study a fleet of 1,900 ships costing around $7 billion could stop the rise in temperature by criss-crossing the oceans and spraying seawater from tall funnels to whiten clouds which increases their reflectivity.

Sunshielding technology or as some called it "whitening the clouds" looks to be much less hazardous to use compared with other geoengineering methods because the worst thing it can do is to alter rainfall, and the effects of this would end after machines were shut down. Other geoengineering techniques usually include long term effects, and are thus more hazardous compared to sunshielding.

The trial test will include ten ships and 10,000sq km (3,800sq miles) of ocean, and it would be very interesting to see the outcome of it. Many scientists are still anything but convinced in geoengineering solutions seeing them as very expensive and also hazardous methods that could result in unwanted consequences.

After world leaders failed to deliver new climate deal science must step up its efforts, and find other solutions to tackle climate change. If currently dominant scientific predictions about climate change are true then we really have very little time to act meaning that we could be soon forced to try the unorthodox solutions like geoengineering. I mean what other options do we have? Waiting for miracle?

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