Friday, June 22, 2007

Desperate measures

In today's Wall Street Journal, science writer Robert Lee Hotz asks global warming's burning (pardon the pun) question: What if we aren't able to radically reorder civilization in time to prevent the destruction of the planet?

Apparently, many scientists are already looking ahead in fear and have judged that now is the time to develop geo-engineering contingencies that focus on deflecting incoming sunlight rather than reducing CO2 emissions. Among the ideas being proposed:
One now under more serious scrutiny was inspired by volcanoes. Climate researcher Tom Wigley at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., and Nobel Prize-winning chemist Paul Crutzen at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany, last year proposed that an overheated planet could be safely cooled by an artificial haze of sulfur particles, which would reflect solar radiation. The 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo spewed enough sulfates to lower the average world temperature by almost one degree Fahrenheit for a year, with no apparent ill effects. A sulfate sunshade might cost $400 million a year.

[...] "Nobody likes geo-engineering at all," added University of Arizona astronomer Roger Angel. Even so, Prof. Angel proposed a plan in the journal Science last year to cool Earth by orbiting 16 trillion tiny mirrors -- at a cost also in the trillions. "Just as insurance, we ought to be thinking about it," Prof. Angel said.
It's no secret that I am more sympathetic to the idea that solar variability is the driver of climate change, as I posted yesterday. If the AGW alarmists can't be shaken of their notion that humanity is suddenly responsible for climate change -- even though the planet has been warming and cooling without our help since the beginning -- I'd rather they pour a half billion a year into polluting the stratosphere than forcing the population of the world to become Luddite vegans.