Some scientists estimate that if we could prevent 1% of all sunlight from reaching the earth, we could offset the effects of all global warming that has taken place since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Global warming? No problem! Block out the sun!
While steering a recent UN report on warming away from the role of emissions, the US wants to include provisions for plans to install giant space mirrors in the atmosphere as “insurance.” Alternatives include floating bajillions of shiny balloons, or injecting the atmosphere with reflective droplets that would mimic the cooling effect of a massive volcanic eruption.
Of course it’s good to be thinking through all possibilities and preparing for last-ditch scenarios, but to emphasize post-facto band-aid solutions while de-emphasizing root causes is both foolhardy and arrogant. And therefore not surprising.
9 Replies to “Block Out the Sun”
Let’s see… should we a) subsidize bicycles and bike paths, plant trees in the southern hemisphere, encourage greater fuel efficient cars, and tax carbon emissions, or b) put a bunch of giant space mirrors in orbit? I think you should do a poll on your site, Scot!
I’ll put up a poll if you think you can get gen-you-ine UN representatives to come and vote :)
You know everyone who reads your blog is going to vote for the giant space mirrors, don’t you?
well, i think it’s another reason to go solar: solar panels absorb the solar energy and transform it rather than letting it 1) warm the earth or 2) bounce back (and hit the greenhouse layer and come back again).
the only thing is, i’m not sure which spectrums are utilized by solar panels, so it might not work quite as well as i think. and space mirrors are cheaper than blanketing 1% of the earth with solar paneling.
Yet another example of human vanity… ;c)
baald, you may not be far off – I’ve actually heard an argument that if we deployed enough solar to make a significant dent, we could actually create a dangerous cooling effect. Not sure how true that is (we’ve paved over vast surfaces of the earth already, but that hasn’t had a cooling effect, has it?)
shacker – re: paving: totally different thing, which would have the opposite effect of panels, if any effect, as it absorbs and stores heat rather than reflecting it back or transforming it into electricity.
Baald, the efficiency of solar panels is pretty low (