A real solution if global warming is a problem

Ronald Bailey explains at Reason’s “Hit and Run” blog why addressing climate change would not require a massive hit to the American economy.

In his 1997 Reason article “Climate Control,” physicist and sci-fi grandee Gregory Benford observed, “If we treated global warming as a technical problem instead of a moral outrage, we could cool the world.” Benford reviewed proposals for reforestation and for fertilizing the oceans with iron to pull excess carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. He also considered such ideas as injecting sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere and burning sulfur in ships to boost the reflective cloud-cover over the oceans.

This week, a new study in Nature Climate Change bolstered the case for solar radiation management by spreading sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere in order to lower the earth’s thermostat. …

… Diehard environmentalist ideologues, on the other hand, have feared that it would work. Consequently, they have been adamantly opposing geoengineering experiments aiming to figure out how to moderate the planet’s rising temperature. As Rutgers University environmental scientist Alan Robock has observed: “If humans perceive an easy technological fix to global warming that allows for ‘business as usual,’ gathering the national (particularly in the United States and China) and international will to change consumption patterns and energy infrastructure will be even more difficult.”

This new study, “Halving warming with idealized solar geoengineering moderates key climate hazards,” by Harvard engineer Peter Irvine and colleagues, finds that using solar geoengineering to reduce average temperatures by about half the amount temperatures would increase if atmospheric carbon doubled would not likely destabilize current weather patterns.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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