Sat, 12 Jan 2013 10:54:25 GMT

Geoengineering could create terrifying unintended consequences



London, Jan 11 (PTI) A rogue nation could use climate change as an excuse to carry out potentially disastrous experiments with geoengineering that could lead to unpredictable costs to agriculture, infrastructure and global stability, a report has warned.

"The global climate could, in effect, be hijacked by a rogue country or even a wealthy individual, with unpredictable costs to agriculture, infrastructure and global stability," the World Economic Forum said in a report.

Scientists worried about climate change are exploring ways in which they could artificial manipulate the Earth''s climate in an attempt to mitigate some of its worst effects, the ''Daily Mail'' quoted the report as saying.

Many different processes have been discussed for such geoengineering, but the most common suggestion is for ''solar radiation management'' in which particles of sulphur could be injected into the stratosphere to block solar energy, it said.

In the past, volcanic eruptions have achieved the same effect and scientists have claimed such solar management would take effect quickly and be cheap to implement.

Recent studies have suggested that a small fleet of aircraft could inject a million tonnes of sulphur compounds into the stratosphere - enough to offset half the global warming recorded to date - for just USD 1-2 billion a year.

"In theory, the technology would be tantamount to a planetary thermostat, giving humans direct control over global temperature," said the WEF report.

"The direct impact of dimming the Sun would be felt within weeks to months," it said.

But the potential side effects of such large-scale interference with our planet''s climate systems are unknown - and could be disastrous.

"The problem is that incoming solar radiation drives the entire climate system, so reducing sunlight would fundamentally alter the way energy and water moves around the planet," it said.

"Almost any change in weather and climate patterns is likely to create winners and losers, but determining causation and quantifying impacts on any given region or country would be a massive challenge," the report said.

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