Spewing sulfur dioxide into atmosphere could slow warming, says research

On earth, sulfur dioxide contributes to acid rain and harms human hearts and lungs — but if injected into the stratosphere, says new research in Science, it could shade the sun’s rays and keep global warming at bay. Hey, if volcanoes can spew it, why can’t we? “I’m not suggesting we don’t reduce our dependence on fossil fuels for energy,” says study author Tom Wigley. “But … can we make it economically and technologically easier by doing something that’s also technology, which may be cost-effective?” According to Wigley’s computer models, volcanic-scale sulfur-spewing every one to four years could keep global temperatures close to constant for 40 to 50 years, even if carbon emissions continue to increase. The scheme would have plenty of barriers to overcome: For one, planes would be the most sensible carriers, but the magnitude of the release would require more than the current global commercial airline fleet. And for two, it’s totally crazy.