We have searched the internet under the terms “aerosol cooling” and “benign aerosols” and the like, and have scant results to report. But after all, since aerosols may refer to any particulate, why can’t non-toxic aerosols be used to cool the planet?
|Aerosol-spewing spaceplanes save the icecap.
Every reputable report out there, dating back to the 1970′s, claims that aerosol forcing could trigger another ice age. The bottom line, apparently, is this: Pound for pound, aerosols – a term generally used these days to refer to all atmospheric particulates – have a much more dramatic immediate cooling effect than CO2, but the impact of aerosols diminishes much more quickly than CO2. Aerosol forcing will immediately cool the planet, such as after a volcanic eruption, but as the dust settles, within months or a few years, the forced cooling effect goes away. The effects of CO2 emissions, on the other hand, take decades to diminish.
If you believe the warming impact of atmospheric CO2 is going to last for decades even if CO2 emissions were curtailed immediately – and everyone knows they won’t be, it will take a generation – than you should be more interested in the cooling potential of aerosols, not ignoring it.
On “RealClimate.org,” a website we highly recommend, there is an entry entitled “The Global Cooling Myth,” where the author convincingly explains that aerosol forcing (cooling) is no longer predicted to have a stronger effect than CO2 forcing (warming), largely because the CO2 is longer-lived in the atmosphere, and because we have begun to clean up our heavy industry and no longer emit as much aerosols.
Well maybe we should.
Why aren’t we using aircraft to deposit aerosols over the arctic regions during crucial periods in spring and summer, in order to preserve the icepack and keep the permafrost intact? For that matter, if it will save the planet, why don’t we build giant coal fired power plants up there? Is the extra CO2 we spew for a few years, to buy us time, going to have even a small fraction as much impact as the amount of CO2 that will be released when the ice caps melt, the northern hemisphere loses its reflectivity, and the CO2 locked in frozen permafrost over millions of square miles is released? No.
We should be experimenting now with aerosol releases in the arctic. Maybe there are benign aerosols – no CO2, no toxins – that can be deployed in critical areas during critical times of year. The cooling effect of aerosols is well documented – and it doesn’t take much. Even if you believe the whole “inconvenient truth” agenda, this fact remains: We may need to increase our aerosol emissions in order to buy ourselves time to reduce our CO2 emissions.
That there is no dialogue among eminent climatologists and political leaders on the potential of aerosols to cool the planet is a mystery, and perhaps a tragedy as well.