Geoengineering by Increasing Aerosols Could Make Blue Skies a Thing of the Past

p.Gordon/CC BY 2.0

Of all the geoengineering methods proposed to either stop or slow climate change, spraying aerosols into the atmosphere has consistently been judged in studies to be one of the most risky in terms of unintended consequences and one of the hardest to implement politically. Now, a new study has taken a closer look at one of those unintended consequences.

Published in Geophysical Research Letters, the study by Ben Kravitz and Ken Caldeira from the Carnegie Institution, finds that injection sulfate particles in the atmosphere sufficient to block 2% of the incoming solar radiation would make the sky 3-5 times brighter, as well as whiter (Science Daily).

Their models show that while the sky would still be blue, it would be much lighter than what people are used to now, with skies everywhere looking like they now do in a hazy day over urban areas.

The study found that while photosynthesis could actually increase in these conditions and more CO2 would be pulled out of the atmosphere, solar power production could decrease due to the changed light quality.

And then there is of course the basic fact that we would be eliminating blue skies. Let's just let that one sit out there for a second...to try to stop climate change we'd be creating white-bird days everywhere, all the time. More pointless bits of the same disconnected fragmented mechanistic thinking as got us into this situation I have never heard.

Americans Wary of Geoengineering
The study comes out at the same time as a new survey from the Brookings Institution finds that Americans are skeptical that geoengineering is the right path to go down.

60% of respondents in the survey said that they either somewhat or strongly disagreed with the notion that "scientists would be able to find ways to alter the climate in a way that limits problems."

45% of respondents disagreed with the idea that "atmospheric engineering methods" would be able to reduce temperatures, with 69% of people thinking that "adding materials to the atmosphere will cause more harm than good for the environment."

Furthermore 66% of respondents thought it's a bad idea to focus on adapting to a warming climate instead of trying to stop that warming from occurring (though I have to object that the question was presented in an either-or format, with no option of responding that we should probably try to stop warming from happening while simultaneously actively trying to adapt should we be unable to stop it fully...).

Now, in some of these questions up to 17% of people said they were unsure, which gives some indication of how little geoengineering gets talked about, at least in terms of specific methods. But it all does give a pretty solid hint that Americans would prefer trying to stop warming from happening, and that they don't have much faith in our technological ability to reverse it should it happen.

Tags: Geoengineering | Global Climate Change | Global Warming Solutions