Monday, May 12, 2008

Geoengineering and Equity

My colleagues Alan Robock et. al. have just produced some surprising results modeling the introduction of (sulfur) aerosols into the stratosphere to reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth. Such geoengineering interventions are shown to “work” by the evidence of volcanic eruptions. They cool the planet on average. But the unknown has been how even that cooling effect is. What is surprising about Robock et. al.’s results are that even though things do get cooler on average, for some places they get hotter. Hotter than they would have been by climate change alone! And drier to boot! The areas involved are sub-Saharan Africa and large parts of India – which means that roughly 10% of the World’s population might be worse off even if the other 90% was better off. Their results are reported in Robock, Alan, Luke Oman, and Georgiy Stenchikov, 2008: Regional climate responses to geoengineering with tropical and arctic SO2 injections. Submitted to J. Geophys. Res and can be downloaded from: http://climate.envsci.rutgers.edu/robock/robock_geopapers.html

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