Monday, July 31, 2006

Scientist publishes 'escape route' from global warming

Scientist publishes 'escape route' from global warming
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
The Independent
Published: 31 July 2006
A Nobel Prize-winning scientist has drawn up an emergency plan to save the world from global warming, by altering the chemical makeup of Earth's upper atmosphere. Professor Paul Crutzen, who won a Nobel Prize in 1995 for his work on the hole in the ozone layer, believes that political attempts to limit man-made greenhouse gases are so pitiful that a radical contingency plan is needed.

In a polemical scientific essay to be published in the August issue of the journal Climate Change, he says that an "escape route" is needed if global warming begins to run out of control.

Professor Crutzen has proposed a method of artificially cooling the global climate by releasing particles of sulphur in the upper atmosphere, which would reflect sunlight and heat back into space. The controversial proposal is being taken seriously by scientists because Professor Crutzen has a proven track record in atmospheric research.

A fleet of high-altitude balloons could be used to scatter the sulphur high overhead, or it could even be fired into the atmosphere using heavy artillery shells, said Professor Crutzen, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany.

The effect of scattering sulphate particles in the atmosphere would be to increase the reflectance, or "albedo", of the Earth, which should cause an overall cooling effect.

Such "geo-engineering" of the climate has been suggested before, but Professor Crutzen goes much further by drawing up a detailed model of how it can be done, the timescales involved, and the costs.....