Instead fighting climate change with emissions-lowering technologies alone, scientists at the Copenhagen Consensus Center are proposing the use of so-called “cloud ships” to launch clouds into the sky. The 1,900 unmanned wind-powered ships would gather sea water and spray it out of tall funnels to create clouds over the Pacific Ocean. The clouds then reflect one to two percent of our sunlight away from Earth, thus canceling out global warming caused by carbon emissions.
It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. While the idea has been tossed around for years, the Copenhagen Consensus Center estimates that it will only cost $9 billion to launch in the next 25 years–pocket change compared to the $250 billion that many countries plan to spend on climate change every year. And teams of British and American scientists are already vying for funds to build cloud ship prototypes.
The cloud-spraying technique has been deemed the most promising of a number of outlandish climate change deflection schemes, including the injection of aerosols into the atmosphere with air tanker squadrons and a plan to launch sunshades into space.
There’s just one problem with the cloud ships–they might be so effective at masking the negative effects of climate change that research and production of technologies like emissions-free plug-in electric cars is stifled. And if that happens, we’ll hit a wall in our ability to keep producing plentiful amounts of oil and other limited natural resources. So while cloud-spraying shouldn’t be discounted, the domino effects of its use should be considered.
[Via UK Times Online]