Geoengineering: As Bad As Climate Change?

New research shows how a controversial plan to rein in global warming caused by runaway greenhouse gases could bring a “new unintended side-effect over a large part of the planet” that could be as bad as the effects of rising CO2.

The study by researchers at the University of Reading published Wednesday in Environmental Research Letters used climate model simulations to show potential effects of one method of “geoengineering.”

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The Guardian reports that

“We have shown that one of the leading candidates for geoengineering could cause a new unintended side-effect over a large part of the planet,” BBC News quotes study co-author Dr. Andrew Charlton-Perez as saying.

Specifically, the BBC continues, putting these sulphate particles into the stratosphere—”stratospheric aerosol geoengineering”—means that

“When stratospheric aerosol geoengineering is represented more realistically using a sulfate aerosol layer there is additional atmospheric heating from the aerosol layer which weakens the tropical circulation, suppressing convection and further reducing precipitation,” the researchers write in their study.

“Consequently, though stratospheric aerosol geoengineering could be used compensate for the surface warming produced by CO2 globally, or even regionally, there is a tropical precipitation change of the opposite sign to and greater in magnitude than the long-term response to CO2,” the study finds.

Arguing against the use of geoengineering on Democracy Now! in 2010, Indian environmentalist Vandana Shiva echoed Einstein’s warning that “you can’t solve problems with the same mindset that created them.”