Scientists in Cape Town, South Africa are proposing a plan to launch enough tiny reflective particles into the atmosphere to dim the sun’s intensity on Earth and curb global warming.
The study, published last week in the Environmental Research Letters scientific journal, states that the release of aerosolized sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere would not only cool down the planet, but it would reduce the risk of a “Day Zero” drought (the hypothetical day when the world runs out of water) by 90 percent.
Of course the proposal is being met with skepticism in the environmental science community, mainly for the fact that, while it might solve one problem, it may cause several more.
“SRM (solar radiation management) would strongly alter the climate system producing ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ in different regions and with different levels of deployment,” a counter report by science advocacy group Climate Analytics suggests. “It would, therefore, most likely become a source of a massive conflict between nations. If not banned altogether, it would put the power of triggering a climate shock into the hands of single actors.”
The main reason scientists in South Africa are so desperate to try wild new methods of drought reduction stems from what the country experienced during its multi-year drought in 2015 to 2017. During that time, the province of Western Cape tolerated the worst water shortage in its history. Although most of that was admittedly man-made, and a mandated water usage reduction of nearly 50% eventually helped put a stop to the drought, researchers have already been calling these mandates “the new normal.”
For now though, this is all still just a proposal with no funding or backing. But if it does gain traction, we all better make sure we’re in line extra early for that perpetual motion survival train so we don’t get stuck in that last car. Just sayin’.