Undeniable climate change facts

Glaciers are melting; sea levels are rising. And 20 of the hottest years on record have occurred since 1996. CNN's Jennifer Gray reports the facts about climate change.

Posted: Dec 5, 2018 11:33 AM
Updated: Dec 5, 2018 12:01 PM

Scientists are proposing an ingenious but as-yet-unproven way to tackle climate change: spraying sun-dimming chemicals into the Earth's atmosphere.

The research by scientists at Harvard and Yale universities, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, proposes using a technique known as stratospheric aerosol injection, which they say could cut the rate of global warming in half.

The technique would involve spraying large amounts of sulfate particles into the Earth's lower stratosphere at altitudes as high as 12 miles. The scientists propose delivering the sulfates with specially designed high-altitude aircraft, balloons or large naval-style guns.

Despite the technology being undeveloped and with no existing aircraft suitable for adaptation, the researchers say that "developing a new, purpose-built tanker with substantial payload capabilities would neither be technologically difficult nor prohibitively expensive."

They estimate the total cost of launching a hypothetical system in 15 years' time at around $3.5 billion, with running costs of $2.25 billion a year over a 15-year period.

The report does, however, acknowledge that the technique is purely hypothetical.

"We make no judgment about the desirability of SAI," the report states. "We simply show that a hypothetical deployment program commencing 15 years hence, while both highly uncertain and ambitious, would indeed be technically possible from an engineering perspective. It would also be remarkably inexpensive."

The researchers also acknowledge potential risks: coordination between multiple countries in both hemispheres would be required, and stratospheric aerosol injection techniques could jeopardize crop yields, lead to droughts or cause extreme weather.

The proposals also don't address the issue of rising greenhouse gas emissions, which are a leading cause of global warming.

And despite the conviction of the report's authors, other experts were skeptical.

"From the point of view of climate economics, solar radiation management is still a much worse solution than greenhouse gas emissions: more costly and much more risky over the long run," said Philippe Thalmann of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, an expert in the economics of climate change.

David Archer of the Department of Geophysical Science at the University of Chicago said, "The problem with engineering climate in this way is that it's only a temporary Band-Aid covering a problem that will persist essentially forever, actually hundreds of thousands of years for fossil fuel CO2 to finally go away naturally.

"It will be tempting to continue to procrastinate on cleaning up our energy system, but we'd be leaving the planet on a form of life-support. If a future generation failed to pay their climate bill they would get all of our warming all at once."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 155597

Reported Deaths: 2208
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah31877528
Washington21211212
Marion18468285
Clackamas13380175
Lane10258126
Jackson8395112
Umatilla765982
Deschutes595259
Yamhill378364
Linn359056
Malheur335158
Polk306442
Klamath279155
Douglas247454
Benton234416
Josephine234050
Jefferson195828
Coos149119
Union128419
Columbia126521
Wasco122126
Lincoln113220
Hood River106929
Morrow104914
Clatsop7756
Crook77518
Baker6567
Curry4296
Tillamook4142
Lake3766
Harney2736
Grant2231
Wallowa1424
Gilliam531
Sherman530
Wheeler221
Unassigned00
Eugene
Partly Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 45°
Corvallis
Clear
44° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 41°
Roseburg
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 48°
North Bend
Clear
44° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 44°
KEZI Radar
KEZI Temperatures
KEZI Planner

LATEST FORECAST

Community Events