Story at a glance

  • It is surprisingly cheap to artificially change the earth’s climate, according to one climate scientist.
  • Kate Ricke, a climate researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, says countries might pursue geoengineering in order to combat the effects of climate change but that the consequences could be dire.
  • Geoengineering could actually make the effects of climate change worse, according to Ricke.

Some countries might try out a relatively inexpensive solar geoengineering technique known as stratospheric aerosol injection in order to combat some of the effects of climate change, one climate expert told Wired.

Kate Ricke, a climate researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography told the magazine that some might try to use the technique in order to spray tiny particles of sulfate into the stratosphere to reflect some of the sun’s radiation back into space in order to cool the planet. 

The technique is not a cure-all for climate change, but there is a growing amount of research on how solar geoengineering can be used to reduce the impacts caused by climate change. Research from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences found that solar geoengineering “may be surprisingly effective in alleviating some of the worst impacts of global warming on crops,” according to a release. 


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The research focused on three types of geoengineerring, stratospheric aerosol injection, cirrus cloud thinning and marine sky brightening, and their effect on world-wide maize, wheat, sugarcane, rice, soy and sugarcane crops in a “future where emissions continue at their current levels,” according to the release. 

But there is still not a lot of reach on how solar geoengineering could affect different ecosystems, the release adds. 

Countries will most likely not try stratospheric aerosol injection in the near future, but Ricke told Wired that it is still imperative to do more research on the potential impacts of the techniques. 

“I just have a hard time seeing with the economics of it how it doesn't happen,” she told Wired. “To me, that means that it's really urgent to do more research.” 

Some of the accidental consequences of using stratospheric aerosol injection are that it could cause a world-wide dependency on geoengineering, according to Futurism, which could mean that crops or species could die due to a sudden increase in temperature if humans for some reason are unable to spray sulfate into the atmosphere. 


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Published on Dec 06, 2021