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Consider air cooling technology as a climate backup

The National Academy of Sciences said Thursday that it must seriously consider the idea of ​​tinkering with the atmosphere to cool the warming Earth and accelerate research into how humans can hack planets.

A report by the Academy set up by Abraham Lincoln to provide expert advice to the government does not recommend performing solar geoengineering to repel heat into space. At least not yet.

However, the report states that urgent plans need to be considered as extreme weather events due to climate change have worsened since the Academy last considered the high-value issues in 2015. This requires a coordinated investigation into whether air conditioning technology works. , Its potentially dangerous side effects, its potential for ethical and political collapse.

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The report explores three ways to cool the air. Place heat-reflecting particles in the stratosphere, change the brightness of ocean clouds, and thin high clouds.

“Climate engineering is a really ridiculous idea, but at this point it may not be as stupid as doing anything or continuing what we have done,” said an atmospheric chemist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Lynn Russell told the co-author of the report. Associated Press. “It has a lot of risks and it’s important for them to learn as much as we can.”

The Commission recommended increasing research spending from several times a year to $ 40 million, along with an “exit ramp” to end the study if unacceptable risks were found.

“Honestly, I don’t know if that makes sense,” said Stanford University Chairman Chris Field.

Critics such as Raymond Pierre Humbert of Oxford University are worried that there is a “moral hazard” that offers an attractive option to use suspicious technology instead of reducing carbon pollution as needed. He said the term geoengineering is wrong to sound like a human controlling heat like a thermostat.

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Andrew Dessler of the University of Texas A & M sees geoengineering as a safety feature of the planet, like a car airbag that you never want.

A team at Harvard University is working on a small experiment, in which the balloon eventually releases a few pounds of aerosol into the air for 12 miles (20 km) to reflect the sun. The group hopes to perform system tests later this year in Sweden without injecting chemicals.

The report is more powerful than the 2015 edition and details how governments monitor and investigate, said Academy President Marcia McNutt, who chaired the previous investigation.

Is geoengineering too risky to even consider?

Waled Abdalati, a former NASA Chief Scientist who attended the 2015 panel, said: “If you are as risky as climate change, you may have to consider very risky options.”

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Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter. @borenbears..

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The Associated Press’s Department of Health Sciences is supported by the Department of Science Education at Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright 2021 AP communication. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.



Consider air cooling technology as a climate backup

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