Tech: Smoke and Mirrors

By Jim Sherwin

While political leaders, industry gurus, economists, scientists, and other experts figure out the best ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions—the cause of rising temperatures across the planet—a handful of researchers have come up with some wacky-sounding ideas for mitigating the effects of global warming. Here’s a look at a few of their suggestions:

-Some are hitting heat at its source: the Sun. Astronomer Roger Angel proposes placing trillions of disks in space to deflect light; and another plan would place a 150-mile mirror between the Earth and the Sun.

-When Mount Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines in 1991, the sulfate particles it spewed into the atmosphere reflected some sunlight, cooling the planet for nearly a year. Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research suggest mimicking the event, using airplanes or balloons to release sulfates into the air.

-Like trees, algae feed on CO2. Unlike trees, however, algae multiply quickly, particularly in an iron-rich environment. The “Geritol solution,” named for the iron-rich supplement, proposes dumping tons of iron dust into the ocean to bolster the proliferation of algae, which will, the theory posits, rapidly consume large amounts of CO2.                                                   

—Jim Sherwin

Issue 25

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