The temptation of a sunscreen to cool the planet

Source: Mint

Relevance: Fighting climate change and its impacts.

Synopsis: Analysis of Solar-Geo engineering as a possible solution against effects of global warming. An analysis.

Context

In the background of the latest IPCC report on climate change, expectations from 26th United Nation Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC) have increased. However, as the effects of global warming worsens, we should also look towards lesser-talked about solutions like Solar-Geoengineering.

What is solar geoengineering?

Solar geoengineering is a specific form of albedo modification in which highly reflective particles are introduced into the atmosphere to increase Earth’s albedo. This would reduce incoming light (radiation) from the sun, and thereby decrease the amount of energy (heat) reaching Earth’s surface.

Solar geoengineering methods
  • Placing of huge mirrors in the orbit
  • Brightening of natural clouds– by spraying over sea formations which will radiate the solar rays back into the space
  • Reduce cloud density– so that they trap less long-wave radiation keeping earth cool
  • Generating sea-foams which can compensate polar glacier melting by acting as a natural reflector.
  • Addition of reflective aerosols into stratosphere – it will interfere with our weather patterns, ocean currents, marine life etc.
Issues/Concerns

As there is no precedent of such kind of geoengineering project, so the costs and the risks involved are still unknown.

Conclusion

The option of a global reflective shield needs to be there in the global agenda for multilateral climate talks. Its risk should be weighted against rewards. India in the meanwhile should study the option on its own to arrive at conclusion shaped by scientific findings.

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