Wicked idea to stop global warming - create sulphur screen

Posted on Sunday, Feb 25 2007 @ 10:25 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
Paul Crutzen, a scientists who won the Nobel Prize in 1995 for helping to explain how to ozone layer is formed and depleted, presented a wicked idea on how to counter global warming.

He believes that we could create a blanket around the Earth with sulphur, this would stop some of the Sun's rays from reaching our planet.
His solution would see hundreds of rockets filled with sulphur launched into the stratosphere. He envisages one million tonnes of sulphur to create his cooling blanket.

"Hydrocarbons are burnt to lift the rocket material, and the rocket then goes into the stratosphere. In the stratosphere, hydrogen sulphide is burnt, and the sulphate particles reflect solar radiation," he explains.

But at low altitudes within the Earth's atmosphere, sulphur has been known to create a lot of damage.

Since the industrial revolution began over 200 years ago, the combustion of fossil fuels has put just over a trillion tonnes of carbon dioxide, as well as sulphur, into the atmosphere.

By the mid-1950s, the effects of sulphur were killing thousands of people through respiratory disease. It also caused acid rain and had devastating effects on plants and animals.

To combat this, clean air acts were introduced and filters were put in place to reduce sulphur emissions.

The chemistry professor finds it ironic that prior to these clean air acts, filthy factories actually shielded us from the Sun.

He explains the paradox: "We want to clean up the environment because air pollution is unhealthy. But this pollution also cools the Earth by reflecting solar radiation into space."

Professor Crutzen is not proposing a return to the bad old days; rather, he wants to avoid the previous problems by making sure the sulphur is injected into the atmosphere at high altitude.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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