A group of scientists has come up with a plan to stop global warming that doesn’t involve cutting back on our emissions or being green. This plan involves dimming the sun by spewing sulfates into the lower stratosphere. What could go wrong?
The study was recently published and looks at the capability and costs of various lofting methods to get the sulfates into the atmosphere. This material would be lofted into the atmosphere as high as 20km above the ground. The researchers believe that they could halve the increase in anthropogenic radiative forcing with the project potentially ready to deploy in 15 years.
The cost of blocking out the sun Matrix-style would be about $1,500 per ton of material deployed with an average cost of $2.25 billion yearly over the first 15-years of deployment. One big catch in this plan right now is that no existing aircraft can deploy the material in the atmosphere.
The scientists have concluded that a new purpose-built high-altitude tanker with “substantial payload capabilities” wouldn’t be cost prohibitive or overly difficult to design and build. The number of flights needed in a year would be about 4,000 to deploy enough of the sulfates in the Stratosphere.
The scientists estimate that the required flights would increase each year linearly by about 4,000 flights. The high number of flights and large aircraft would prevent the program from being conducted secretly according to the scientists.
As you might imagine, not everyone agrees with this plan. The researchers have talked about reducing global temperatures, but there is no real mention of how dimming the sun might adversely affect life on Earth. Other than tanker aircraft, the researchers also considered balloons and large guns to shoot chemicals into the air.