Faculty of 1000

Post-publication peer review

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“What about the oceans?” Climate change reversal scheme has its doubters

Posted by stevepog on 16 December, 2009

With most of the science media, green movement and world leader attention focused on Copenhagen and climate change right now, it would be remiss of us not to mention a new evaluation which looks at one of numerous papers promising new ways to tackle the greenhouse effect.

The reviewer, Robie Macdonald, from the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Canada, looked at a paper in Geophysical Research Letters that discussed stratospheric geoengineering as a way to curtail greenhouse gas emissions.

MacDonald said:

This paper estimates the costs of putting sufficient aerosols into the stratosphere to slow down or reverse global warming. For possibly as little as several billions of dollars per year, one might cool the planet, stall or reverse ice melting, thwart sea-level rise, and increase the terrigenous sink for CO2 through enhanced primary production.

MacDonald quite rightly has issues with this proposed technique, as it may on one hand help produce planet-cooling sulfate aerosols but on the negative, as Ars technica also reported, “it would also produce more droughts and worsen ozone depletion. And, crucially, it would do nothing to reverse ocean acidification”.

In a time when the media is not quite sure which side of the climate change `debate’ to be on and newspapers are running unchecked stories which deny climate change exists, alongside comment pieces from an unqualified former vice-Presidential candidate (Sarah Palin) to anti-skeptics (George Monbiot), stratospheric geoengineering could take off as the next big thing in climate change reversal (if there could ever be such a beast).

*By the way, the suggested methods of using military aircraft and artillery shells to save the planet sound a little too Armageddon for my liking.


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