Scientists Consider Funky Plans to Avert Climate Change

Plans to slow global warming once dismissed as, well, loopy need to be taken seriously, concluded scientists at a conference on climate change in Cambridge, U.K. The proposed schemes can be divided into two families — they aim either to capture greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide to prevent their buildup in the atmosphere, or to shield the planet from solar radiation. The first category includes plans to sprinkle the oceans with iron to absorb CO2 or bury compressed CO2 underground. The second category — which found more favor with scientists — includes more fanciful proposals such as using thousands of bubble-making machines to create bigger, more reflective clouds or (we kid you not) sending billions of tiny silver balloons into the atmosphere to reflect the sun’s light. When an alien civilization reconstructs the events that led to humanity’s demise, we here at Grist hope that our balloon-bedecked planet convinces them that, however short-sighted, we had a good sense of humor.