An Inconveniently Smelly Truth
Posted on Aug 21, 2006
A Nobel laureate has proposed shooting sulfur into the atmosphere as an emergency measure to curb global warming. The short-term fix would not solve the problem, but would buy some time by temporarily reflecting some of the sun’s energy away from the planet.
Crutzen published his proposal in the August issue of Climatic Change. He won the 1995 Nobel prize in chemistry for his work on the ozone layer.
When sulfur particles are released into the Earth’s atmosphere, they reflect solar radiation back into space much as large ice sheets in the Arctic do. Crutzen envisions lofting sulfur into the stratosphere on small balloon crafts, which will use artillery guns to release their smelly payload.
It’s a response, Crutzen writes, to the failure of international political efforts to establish carbon emission limits. “The preferred way to resolve this dilemma is to lower the emissions of greenhouse gases,” he said in the Climatic Change editorial. “However, so far, attempts in that direction have been grossly unsuccessful.”
Illustration by Peter Scheer