Climate scientists have predicted that the consequences of unchecked global warming could result in everything from catastrophic flooding to larger and more deadly hurricanes, but is there anything we can do to stop it?
Here's an idea: pump tons and tons of sulfate particles into the atmosphere to block some sunlight from reaching earth, similar to what occurs in the aftermath of a gigantic volcanic explosion.
That's the notion put forth by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Using computer models, they showed that adding something like one million metric tons of small aerosol particles to the atmosphere could cut the rise in global temperature in half.
Though the earth would warm at a slower rate, meaning that the disruptive effects of global warming, like droughts in some places and too much rainfall in others, wouldn't be as bad.
To be clear, the researchers' predictions are based on computer simulations, which don't always prove to be accurate, and there are a few caveats.
First, the simulations also showed that adding too much sulfate to the atmosphere could cool things down too much, which could be just as bad as excessive warming. Also, it's not clear how the sulfate would behave. Instead of spreading evenly throughout the atmosphere it could concentrate in certain areas and cause uneven cooling.
Although the sulfate solution probably won't actually happen any time soon, it's a start in coming up with a creative way to slow global warming down.