Some scientists look to geoengineering to stave off climate change

What will it take to stop global warming? Reducing developed-world consumption and funding clean technologies in the developing world? Boooring. Human-engineered ultra-reflecting clouds, altered carbon-soaking oceans, trillions of little sunshades floating in space? Now we’re talking! “We should treat these ideas like any other research and get into the mind-set of taking them seriously,” says the president of the National Academy of Sciences. Geoengineering — large-scale rearranging of the earth’s environment so that we can continue to live here comfortably — has produced such suggestions as reflecting the sun’s rays with white plastic islands in the oceans or injecting the stratosphere with sulfur dioxide, increasing reflectivity (and acid rain). If international efforts to curb emissions (such as they are) fail, geoengineering “is the only option available to rapidly reduce temperature rises,” wrote Nobel laureate researcher Paul Crutzen. He added, “So far, there is little reason to be optimistic.” Yippee.