Geo-Engineering. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
October 1, 2012
Scottish scientists have come up with an intriguing new idea to combat global warming – blasting the surface of asteroids to create giant clouds of dust which would act as sunscreen for the planet.
Researchers at the University of Strathclyde believe a suitably sized asteroid could be moved into a position close to earth before a giant cloud of dust is blasted off its surface.
And because an asteroid creates a gravitational pull, the dust is held in position rather than being gradually dispersed across space.
Russell Bewick, one of the research team at the University of Strathclyde told Live Science: ‘People sometimes get the idea of giant screens blocking the entire sun.
‘This is not the case … as [the device] is constantly between the sun and the earth, it acts merely as a very light shade or filter.’
‘I would like to make it clear that I would never suggest geoengineering in place of reducing our carbon emissions.”
‘We can buy time to find a lasting solution to combat Earth’s climate change. The dust cloud is not a permanent cure, but it could offset the effects of climate change for a given time to allow slow-acting measures like carbon capture to take effect.’
An earlier proposal to shade Earth from the sun involved placing giant mirrors in space.
However this is seen as impractical due to the massive cost of building the giant mirrors and blasting them into orbit or constructing them in outer-space.
Another idea involved using blankets of dust to blot out the sun in the same way clouds do on earth.
However while this would be considerably cheaper than placing mirrors in space it is believed the dust would be dispersed due to the gravitational pull of the sun, moon and other planets.
So the Scottish team came up with the novel idea of using an asteroid’s own gravitational pull to effectively anchor the cloud of dust and stop it drifting away.
Mr Bewick said: ‘A very large asteroid is a potential threat to Earth, and therefore great care and testing would be required in the implementation of this scenario.