An idea so bad, even Michael Mann realizes it’s a stinker.
Sprinkling large amounts of salt into the atmosphere could stave off climate change, a group of researchers has proposed.
They’ve suggested that, because salt is highly reflective, it could potentially reflect sunlight back into outer space, helping to cool the Earth, they wrote in a report presented at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas on March 21.
But other climate scientists aren’t so sure. This idea falls into the category of geoengineering — a deliberate, large-scale attempt to change the environment as a means to counteract climate change.
“It’s an interesting idea,” Michael Mann, a distinguished professor of meteorology at Penn State, told Live Science. But “most of these [geoengineering] schemes,though potentially appealing at the surface, are seen to be fraught with potential unintended consequences when you look at them in more detail.”
The salty proposal is more of a last-ditch effort that could be used to offset climate change, in case humans fail to significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions, such as those of carbon dioxide, that are contributing to Earth’s rising temperatures, Science magazine reported. The idea is to seed salt into the upper troposphere, the atmospheric layer most commercial airplanes fly over because of its weather conditions and clouds.
The idea was put forward, in part, by Robert Nelson, a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, a nonprofit whose scientists study planetary systems, including the solar system.
Their proposal is hardly the first geoengineering idea out there. Other scientists have considered injecting tiny particles known as aerosols into the stratosphere, the region above the troposphere, as a way to cool the planet, Science magazine reported.
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Here’s the study: