Sunday, 11 January 2009
The practicality of geoengineering
Phoenix Convention Center
In the face of rapid and potentially catastrophic climate change, it is necessary to evaluate solutions to modify the warming climate while the population works on decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. Geoengineering, deliberate modification of the climate, by the production of sulfur aerosols in the stratosphere, is one suggested solution. Here we evaluate the practicality of possible means of injection of aerosol precursors into the stratosphere, including airplanes, space elevators, artillery shells, and stratospheric balloons, from the viewpoint of cost (including financial and environmental impacts) and possible speed of application. These scenarios are then compared to the Gross Domestic Product of the United States and the estimated cost of mitigation by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Although, it will take years before any of the proposed methods could be implemented due to the development of new technology and production of materials, the cost of geoengineering using airplanes and balloons will only be a fraction of the estimated cost of mitigation as it will cost $5 billion for the first year to construct the airplanes. In addition to the start up cost, it will cost $70 million per year for the operation and maintenance of the airplanes. The cost of using stratospheric balloons to inject sulfur into the stratosphere is on $17 million.