Turning down the Sun

Turning down the Sun

UK Contact: Claire Bowles, New Scientist Press Office, London

US Contact: New Scientist Washington office

New Scientist

Office fights over the air conditioning may pale in comparison to global bickering over a dimmer switch on the Sun. Nicola Jones wonders if we would be solving climate problems, or just creating more

ARE you doing your bit for the planet? You've stopped driving a car, planted six trees in your back garden and put solar panels on your roof. You're even willing to breathe more slowly if it'll help reduce your carbon dioxide burden on the poor overheated planet. But the temperature continues to creep up. There's already too much CO2 in the air and you realise that things are going to keep getting hotter. So what can you do?

Some researchers would like you to turn to an entirely different way of fighting global warming. If you can't plug the flow of carbon into the atmosphere, they argue, then cool the planet by blocking some of the light from the Sun. Over the past few years, they've come up with a host of bright ideas for how to install a dimmer switch on daylight. Such as putting a giant mirror in space. Or letting loose a layer of dust, a giant metal mesh or trillions of tiny silver balloons into the atmosphere. Anything to give us a global thermostat, to pull down the temperature when things get too hot.

If you find this prospect disconcerting, you're not alone. Ken Caldeira, a climate researcher from the Lawrence Livermore N

Contact: Claire Bowles
New Scientist

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