Climate quick fix! (But please sign this disclaimer first.)


Geoengineering sometimes looks like a good option: international agreements on greenhouse gas emission reductions don’t seem to be going anywhere so having a back-up plan to deal with global temperatures would be useful.

However, there are potentially big problems with tinkering with the climate system more than we already have.

Haywood et al. outline one of these problems in a new Nature Climate Change paper that was published this week.

They look at the response of the climate in models when you add aerosol particles to the stratosphere – this will reduce the amount of energy entering the climate system by reflecting some of it away.

The unintended consequences, however, are not good: global rainfall patterns change as a result of the intervention and could lead to droughts in some areas e.g. the Sahel. (These outcomes are sensitive to where the aerosol is added and, of course, are subject to all the usual model uncertainties.)

So it would seem that geoengineering might only be useful if there are international agreements on who takes responsibility for the outcomes. Best get those negotiations started ASAP then!

There’s some more comment in The Gaurdian.

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7 Responses to “Climate quick fix! (But please sign this disclaimer first.)”

  1. omnologos Says:

    Exactly, Andy. I am sure I am not the only one awaiting such an agreement, and the geoengineering intervention to follow, only to start a massive class action at the first April snowfall or November warmth…

    • andyrussell Says:

      Its more the thousands of deaths that would be associated with a drought in the Sahel that would be a problem.

      • omnologos Says:

        I’d rather go for giant space mirrors then, as they can be moved around or even put out of action if things go badly.

        Actually there could be a whole new area of study, how to put mirrors in space so that the whole planet gets the best climatic conditions ever and forever (provided those are defined first).

      • andyrussell Says:

        Sounds more expensive than aerosols though…

      • omnologos Says:

        Faster/cheaper/better…I do hope we do always opt for the “better” 😉

      • andyrussell Says:

        I think “best” would be an international emissions reductions plan. Geoengineering would be a (potentially flawed) sticking plaster.

  2. Another Week in the Planetary Crisis, April 7, 2013 – A Few Things Ill Considered Says:

    […] 2013/04/01: OCH: Climate quick fix! (But please sign this disclaimer first.) […]

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