Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Scientists Call for 'Geoengineering' Tests to Find Ways to Cool the Planet

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Scientists Call for 'Geoengineering' Tests to Find Ways to Cool the Planet

Article excerpt

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Scientists are calling for tests to find ways to cool the planet - the first step toward exploration of the controversial field of geoengineering, which aims to change the climate by blocking the sun's rays.

It might be necessary if society can't agree on how to stop carbon emissions that are heating up Earth, a panel of experts said at the weekend meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The call for small-scale tests represents a profound shift in thinking among the scientific community, which has resisted conversations about deliberate, large-scale manipulation of the planet.

"We have to know through research . what the benefits and risks might be," said climate scientist Alan Robock of Rutgers University.

Scientists say the proposals to study sun-blocking ideas are spurred by this sobering reality: Even if carbon emissions completely stopped today, the Earth will continue warming over the next several decades.

A geoengineering test, opposed by some environmentalists, could involve wafting tiny sea-salt particles toward low-lying clouds off California's Central Coast to try to fend off sunlight. They argue that it's dangerous to tinker with the environment rather than stop the problem at its source.

Another might measure the cooling haze-inducing effect of emissions from cargo ships traveling from the Port of Oakland to Asia, the scientists said.

The scientists' recommendations followed last week's release of two reports on geoengineering by the National Research Council of the Academy of Sciences. The council recommended a research agenda for how to offset the release of billions of tons of carbon dioxide a year caused by the burning of fossil fuels. …

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