Geo-Engineering to Confine Climate Change: Is it at all Feasible?
Paul Crutzen (2006) has suggested a research initiative to consider whether itwould be feasible to artificially enhance the albedo of the planet Earth to counteract greenhouse warming. The enhancement of albedo would be achieved by intentionally injecting sulfur into the stratosphere. The rational for proposing the experiment is the observed cooling of the atmosphere following the recent major volcanic eruptions by El Chichon in 1984 and Mount Pinatubo in 1991 (Hansen et al., 1992). Although I am principally not against a research initiative to study such a potential experiment, I do have important reservations concerning its general feasibility. And its potential feasibility, I believe, must be the key motivation for embarking on such a study. Here I will bring up three major issues, which must be more thoroughly understood before any geo-engineering of climate could be considered, if at all. The three issues are (i) the lack of accuracy in climate prediction, (ii) the huge difference in timescale between the effect of greenhouse gases and the effect of aerosols and (iii) serious environmental problems which may be caused by high carbon dioxide concentration irrespective of the warming of the climate.