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Aerosols in the Atmosphere Irrational and Irresponsible, So Why Do It?

Do we really want to geo-engineer the climate around the world? (Screenshot/YouTube)
Do we really want to geo-engineer the climate around the world? (Screenshot/YouTube)

It’s hard to believe, but a Queensland scientist is saying that to save the world’s coral reefs from the effects of climate change, we should be blasting aerosols into the atmosphere.

This idea has already been previously dismissed by scientists. Professor Peter Mumby of the University of Queensland has said that if global warming was not able to be stopped through political agreements, then shooting sulfur dioxide into the sky should be an option.

Stratospheric aerosol-based solar radiation management is what scientists call it. This is also commonly known as chemtrailing. It involves using aerosols to scatter sunlight high above the Earth.

“Some of the methods involve shooting artillery up into the upper atmosphere, taking things up there with aircraft,” Mumby said to ABC News. “This is still an active area of research, but in principle it’s feasible to do it.”

He said the challenge was to reduce temperature rise in the oceans and that an “aggressive de-carbonization scenario” being considered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was one option, wrote ABC News.

“But an even more aggressive option to reduce temperature is to geo-engineer the amount of scattering of light in the atmosphere, and to do that you add aerosols into the upper stratosphere,” he said

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“Now, what that does is it reflects some of the incoming sunlight, and the model projections predict that this would have a very strong effect at reducing the amount of warming in the oceans. What we find is that that reduction in warming could have a really big benefit compared to the business-as-usual scenario for coral reefs.”

There are many scientists that agree that climate intervention should not be used as a substitute for the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences earlier this year said that it would be “irrational and irresponsible” to use this method without first pursuing emissions mitigation, carbon dioxide removal, or both.

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Mumby said that using sulfur dioxide would not do anything to reduce ocean acidification. This is another consequence of climate change, and is deadly to coral.

A global solution to stop climate change is the best outcome, but aerosols could be used if that fails.

“I would never advocate on the grounds of this study that this is therefore the best way forward, but we do need to have a balanced assessment of all of the pros and all of the risks, and only then can society make a sort of informed view of whether this should become part of a strategy to deal with climate change.”

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Using aerosols in the upper atmosphere is the most extreme suggestion to protecting coral reefs to date. There have been other suggestions, like the use of shade cloth or underwater umbrellas by scientists that seem like a better idea.

John Connor, the CEO of the Climate Institute, has said that the use of aerosols would be risky. “There are whole hosts of question marks about this technology, and in particular its impact on weather systems worldwide; the climate is a complicated system and we play with it at our peril.”

Professor Mumby’s research was in collaboration with researchers from the U.K. and the U.S. Their paper has been published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

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