Climate Change Derails Even Nobel Laureates

by Val Germann

Back in the 1950s, late summer was sometimes called “the silly season” because it used to be a slow news time and so¬† more whacky, filler-type material would get into print. Today, as the dire import of climate change begins to gain traction, it’s the “silly season” all the time, as a recent article on the TERRA DAILY website more than illustrates. That is, even normally sober-sided Nobel Laureates are feeling the strain:

Injecting sulfur into the atmosphere to slow down global warming is worthy of serious consideration, according to Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany . . .

This is one of those lead paragraphs that stops you in your tracks, because sulfur is a major component of modern air pollution, and is not usually thought of as valuable to ADD to the atmosphere. But let’s continue:

Burning of fossil fuel also releases sulfur into the earth’s atmosphere, in the form of sulfur particles. Ironically, these sulfate particles help to cool down the planet by reflecting solar radiation back into space.

Yes, this is true, sulfate particles lead to a whitish haze that does cut insolation.

Crutzen’s proposed planet-saving scheme, which artificially injects sulfur into the earth’s stratosphere (the second atmospheric layer closest to earth) to offset greehnouse warming, is based on this phenomenon.

Now the cat’s out of the bag: this fellow is proposing a planetary-sized program that will counteract the burning of fossil fuels by more than six billion people. Let that sink in for a minute before you read the following:

In Crutzen’s experiment, artificially enhancing earth’s reflective powers would be achieved by carrying sulfur into the stratosphere on balloons, using artillery guns to release it.

See what I mean? Can you believe it? This idea has appeared in a refereed journal, as you can see by clicking for the TERRA DAILY article.

How many megatons of sulfur would have to injected into the stratosphere, at least 50,000 ft. high, to make a real difference here? What would the cost of this be, especially when you consider that the program would have to continue forever, because sulfur falls out of the air in about two years. Frankly, it’s simply insane, an example of the current helplessness of everyone in the face of prospective global disaster.

Let’s hope somebody gets smarter than this, and darned soon, too!

About Val

I am a long-time teacher of science and astronomy with a strong interest in resource conservation and the environment.
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