Feeds

Bomb Earth's atmosphere with sulphur, researcher says

Shock and awe campaign on global warming

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Firing artillery shells into the stratosphere to release sulphur particles could defeat global warming, climate researcher Paul Crutzen says.

In a paper to be published in the journal Climatic Change in August, the professor will explain his scheme in greater detail.

So far we have learned, from this press release, that sulphur particles can reflect sunlight well enough to lower the Earth's temperature, if that ever becomes necessary.

Crutzen reckons that the effect would last about two years. He bases this on observations of the Mount Pinatubo eruption in 1991, which released significant quantities of sulphur into the atmosphere and may have lowered the Earth's average temperature by 0.5 degrees Celsius. Or not.

Crutzen says he doesn't think of "climate engineering" as a first-line response to global warming, but if governments fail to enact the proper controls for greenhouse gas emissions, it might become a necessary emergency measure.

What could possibly go wrong? Oh, heaps of things. Very little is known about how sunlight affects weather patterns, so fiddling with it could result in anything from minor changes to catastrophic droughts throughout the world's most fertile regions.

On the other hand, we might already have come to depend on "global dimming" from air pollution to keep global warming at bay, so this artificial volcano idea might be the way back from disaster.

There is evidence suggesting that recent efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has caused a spike in global temperatures over the past decade. Without our protective layer of industrial pollutants, the Earth's atmosphere is now reflecting less solar radiation, and temperatures are rising. We could be rendering the planet uninhabitable just because we're afraid of a little shmutz in the air.

The message, then, that air pollution is good for the Earth, will no doubt resonate deeply with the Bush administration. And while the Bushies have been hostile toward the idea of global warming, certainly the idea of attacking a complicated problem with heavy artillery will appeal to them so strongly that we might see some action soon. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
Cutting cancer rates: Data, models and a happy ending?
How surgery might be making cancer prognoses worse
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Brit balloon bod Bodnar overflies North Pole
B-64 amateur ultralight payload approaching second circumnavigation
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?