Putting Global Warming Under “The Umbrella”

glob1.jpgThe rising pollution levels and its aftermath like global warming are beginning to spiral out of control even though the Governments of all the countries did initiate some steps lately, by enforcing laws to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The Kyoto protocol, which had the intention of putting stringent marks on developed nations to cut down their green house gases emission, has failed to bring about any significant change. The developed countries have started to pull out of this treaty and lack the initial vigour and enthusiasm with which they had signed it. The Kyoto protocol is not working mainly because of its impracticality. None of the developed countries wanted to cut down on their emission of green house gases at the expensive price of hampering their economic growth.

Keeping these issues in mind, the scientists have started thinking about some other way out, and the latest geo-engineering solution is called the Umbrella theory. This theory proposes ingenious ways to negate the effect of the green house gases. It propounds the fact that suspended particles like sulfates in upper atmosphere can absorb much of the heat, creating effects same as some local volcanic eruption and bring about the situation that existed during ice age. Sulfate aerosols cool the Earth by blocking a portion of the sun’s rays. Previous studies, of how such a scheme would lower the Earth’s temperature, used back-of-the-envelope calculations. According to old proposed theories, the temperature of Earth is rising by 2°C and adding the sulfate particles will help in checking this rise at 1°C, thus in a way, delaying the inevitable.The ways to implement this technique still need to be developed and even if they are developed, it will be tough to meet the requirements uniformly throughout the globe. Scientists say that if this spray of sulfate particles is uneven, it may not help at all. Uneven distribution of the aerosols could lead to more cooling in some places than in others, which could cause unknown environmental consequences. A possible consequence being thickening of ice at Antarctica. Climate modeler Raymond Pierre Humbert from Illinois says, “Even if we start geo-engineering we will have to do it on a regular basis and if it’s stopped it can lead to soaring global temperatures”.This geo-engineering way also brings up a possible human complacency into existence with the fact that, now, we have a man-made solution to all these problems. It can lead to a situation where all the developed countries may not control their emission of harmful gases and would rather prefer to pay for their mistakes.This solution can be helpful in the short run, but for a long-term basis, all the countries should adhere to the Kyoto protocol if they are really serious about managing global warming. America has been the single largest emitter of green house gases and it can be seen that America is the only country that can afford this expensive geo-engineering solution which may not help at all keeping the effects of non-uniformity of this proposed solution. It goes without saying that even though this new proposed solution is a giant leap regarding the improvement in environmental sciences, the only solution to global warming still remains the same. And that is to use our resources judicially and keep the pollution to the bare minimum.Ajeet Shekhawat

[Image Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/softpixtechie/1838541043/]