by: David Gutierrez
(NaturalNews) In an article published in the journal Nature, three scientists have called for governments to fund a massive research effort in ways to shield the planet from solar radiation as a way to stave off global warming.
"Many scientists have argued against research on solar radiation management, saying that developing the capability to perform such tasks will reduce the political will to lower greenhouse gas emissions. We think that the risks of not doing research outweigh the risks of doing it."
The practice of "geoengineering" consists of finding ways to limit the amount of solar radiation reaching the earth, thus slowing the rate of planetary warming. Suggested methods include simulating a massive volcanic eruption by generating sulphate aerosols high in the atmosphere, or spraying tiny seawater droplets to create low clouds over the ocean. Although the subject was considered fringe only a few years ago, scientific interest in geoengineering is on the rise.
The article's authors noted that geoengineering cannot be a substitute for reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, but could stave off catastrophic warming until emissions reductions can take effect.
Suggested drawbacks of geoengineering include altering weather patterns and a failure to address increasing acidity of oceans caused by increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
The scientists said that the time to study the benefits and drawbacks of geoengineering is now, before countries are driven by desperation to initiate projects on their own, without international consensus.
"It is plausible that, after exhausting other avenues to limit climate risks, such a nation might decide to begin a gradual, well-monitored program of deployment, even without any international agreement on its regulation," they warned. "In this case, one nation — which need not be a large and rich industrialized country — could seize the initiative on global climate, making it extremely difficult for other powers to restrain it."