Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Buffering the Sun

    The article I read (and the backup) are about sunshade geoengineering and the costs and benefits associated with it. It started off by giving some background on the implementation of sunshade geoengineering, which is basically flying a fleet of planes at very high altitudes and having them spray out aerosol sulfates that reflect roughly 1% of incoming solar radiation.  Next, the article laid out a few statistics about immediate and future problems of CO2 output. These included increasing output of CO2 because of countries like China and India developing, and the fact that even if carbon emissions were halted today it would take hundreds of years for temperatures to go back to normal. After laying the foundation, the article compared two types of geoengineering: carbon capturing and sunshading. Carbon capturing is seen as being relatively slow and expensive compared to sunshading which could be done very quickly and is relatively inexpensive. It then went on to talk about the possible effects of sunshade geoengineering from an economic and environmental standpoint. One benefit is the possibility of lowering the Earth’s temperature by 1 degree Fahrenheit for a relatively low price. One cost is the possibility of the aerosols depleting the ozone further which would cause even more global warming if we stopped sunshading the Earth.
    In my opinion, I think sunshade geoengineering is a terrible idea, and should only be used in an extreme situation. The negatives far outweigh the positives, and we really have no idea what the actual effects will be because there hasn’t really been any testing done. Some possible side effects are droughts in Asia and Africa, depleting ozone further, less solar power, continued acidification of oceans, and lots of possible issues we may never know. It is relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of cutting carbon emissions if you look at dollar value, but if you look at the possible effects it could be way more costly. It would be much wiser to just start reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, because if we can become independent of fossil fuels then we never have to go back. This would be a very short term fix that could lead to even more long term problems. So, in my opinion, unless the world is going to end and the only way to save it is sunshade geoengineering, then we should avoid using it at all costs.
--Eric Skelly

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