It sounds like a wacky idea out of science fiction – but a new study has suggested that plans to spray aerosol into the sky to stop global warming could actually work.
Harvard researchers simulated what would happen if carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions doubled – but ‘solar engineering’ was used to reduce the temperature build-up by half.
The researchers say that the strategy would work for many regions – without most of the anticipated side-effect such as extreme rain and hurricanes, Science Alert reports.
Peter Irvine of Harvard said, ‘Previous work had assumed that solar geo-engineering would inevitably lead to winners and losers with some regions suffering greater harms; our work challenges this assumption.
‘We find a large reduction in climate risk overall without significantly greater risks to any region.’
The idea of ‘solar geoengineering’ or solar radiation management (SRM) is controversial, mimicking the world-chilling effects of huge volcanic eruptions.
Some scientists have suggested that such technology could be used a ‘stop gap’ to reduce temperatures while measures to limit CO2 emissions are put in place.
But others have suggested that when the SRM was withdrawn, it could lead to rapid global warming in a phenomenon known as ‘termination shock’.
Harvard researchers previously suggested that a fleet of specially designed aircraft could spray sulfate particles into the lower stratosphere – and it would be within the budgets of several nations.
The Harvard researchers say that (if it were launched now), it would cost about $3.5 billion (£2.74 billion), according to Science Alert, plus $2.25 billion (£1.76 billion) per year.
The researchers say, ‘Dozens of countries would have both the expertise and the money to launch such a program.