News Stories

Far Out Fixes for Global Warming

UPDATE - Shooting sulfur into the atmosphere, eliminating short plane trips, putting satellites in orbit around the earth to reflect sunlight?these are all the drastic measures that scientists are considering to solve the problem of global warming.

Why would we want to inject sulfur into our atmosphere?isn?t our air polluted enough? And sulfur smells terrible. In LiveScience.com, Sara Goudarzi explains that while burning fossil fuels produces the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, CO2 also cools the planet by forming pollution which reflects sunlight away from the earth. If we put EVEN MORE sulfur into the air, it may not be pleasant, but it will be cooler.

If this solution doesn't sound too inviting, try this: In LiveScience.com, Michael Schirber writes that airplane contrails produce low altitude clouds that keep sunlight from escaping, thus warming the planet. Airplanes on short hops fly lower, since they take off and land frequently, while cross country and other long-haul flights fly higher. These planes produce thinner clouds, which let sunlight pass through while ALSO reflecting heat from the sun. The trouble with this is that the main alternative to short trips?the automobile?is a major cause of greenhouse pollution. Maybe the solution is to build an efficient network of electric trains, of the kind that are found in Japan, although our government does not seem to be organized enough to accomplish such a complex project at this time.

Finally, Robert Roy Britt writes in LiveScience.com that NASA astronomers have suggested launching a ring of satellites that would shade the earth from the sun's rays. One problem with this would be that these satellites would become, in effect, artificial moons that would light up the night sky.This might make big cities safer, but it would interfere with sky watching, even for major telescopes.

UPDATE: What do you do if the president of the United Statesrejectsreality when it comes to global warming? If you'reCalifornia governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, you bypass Bushand make a deal directly with the prime minister of the UK.Reporters John Heilprin and Michael R. Blood write that thetwo leaders are working together to reduce CO2 emissionsfrom automobiles. California has had great success inreducing its smog problem by mandating a special type ofgasoline, as well as pollution controls on cars, and Blairis very interested in this, as well as in the larger problemof global warming.

http://www.livescience.com/environment/ap_060731_global_warming.html

Art credit: gimp-savvy.com

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