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This new plan could help reverse some dangerous effects of climate change

Updated Oct 17th, 2022 11:39AM EDT
Mt Vinson, Sentinel Range, Ellsworth Mountains, Antarctica
Image: Wayne/Adobe

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Scientists have come up with a “relatively low cost” plan that could cool the Earth down. The plan, which aims to lower the temperatures of the north and south poles, could help reverse some of the terrifying effects of climate change that our planet is suffering from. The only downside is that the technique requires releasing insane amounts of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere above the poles.

Scientists say the idea is to mimic the cooling effects seen around volcanos. The sulfur dioxide would be released into the atmosphere in an aerosol form using Stratospheric Aerosol Injection (SAI). It’s a very controversial technique that has popped up several times as a possible way to cool down the Earth.

Once released into the atmosphere, the sulfur dioxide would then congregate and combine with water molecules to create sulfuric acid. Scientists say the acid would remain in place for around three years. During that time it would reflect dangerous solar radiation, creating a cooling effect that could cool the Earth’s poles up to two degrees Celsius.

It sounds like a solid idea on paper, right? Well, a big issue with it has made this idea very controversial in the scientific community. The problem with putting that much sulfuric acid in the atmosphere is that eventually, it all has to come raining back down. This happens when the sulfuric acid droplets become too large to stay in the atmosphere. Thus they rain down on the Earth.

plans to cool Earth down could lower temperatures in the Arctic and AntarcticImage source: tonguy324 / Adobe

This acid rain would not only be dangerous to any plant life it interacts with but also hurt any animals and ecosystems that call the north and south poles home. Because of this, many have tried to steer towards other possible plans to cool the Earth, like the infamous space bubble technique.

Now, bear in mind, that nobody wants to rain down acid rain on the penguins and other animals that call the Arctic and Antarctic home. However, humanity is in a tough spot. Global temperatures continue to rise more than ever, according to a NASA-created gif showing the history of global temperatures. If we fail to cool the Earth down, we could see summer ice vanish from the Arctic by 2050.

Finding a way to cool down the Earth is a priority for many right now, and this is just one of many possible solutions that scientists have proposed. We should all be terrified of climate change because it will have lasting effects on our planet.

A study on the effects that SAI would have on the Arctic and Antarctic was published in Environmental Research Communications this month. Ultimately, the time we have to decide how to address climate change is running out. SAI isn’t the best option by any means. But, if we fail to find another outcome, scientists say we may need to rely on controversial techniques like this to cool the Earth.

More science coverage: See how the sea level rising could affect us all.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.