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Buying Time for the Environment by Creating a Dust Cloud in Space

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has stated that without a serious change to our energy consumption habits, the global average temperature will increase between 2 and 11.5 degrees by the end of the century.

One way to solve this is to reduce carbon emissions, and whilst some efforts have been made around the world, economic, cultural, political, and financial reasons have stopped us from making as much of a change as is needed. It seems that we will never make that change until it is too late.

Geo-engineering offers a radical method, which may not reverse climate change, but can at least buy some time for other more long term solutions to be found and implemented.

The latest idea has come from scientists at the University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Space Concepts Laboratory, in Scotland. It involves blasting an asteroid apart out in space, and using the resulting dust cloud to encompass the Earth and block a certain amount of energy from the sun from reaching the planet.

They estimate that the resulting dust cloud created from the asteroid could block out 6.58 percent of solar energy that reaches the Earth. Russell Bewick, one of the scientists, suggested that it offers a method to “buy time to find a lasting solution to combat Earth's climate change. The dust cloud is not a permanent cure, but it could offset the effects of climate change for a given time to allow slow-acting measures like carbon capture to take effect.”

Using dust clouds in space to black the sun’s rays is not a new idea, but the Strathclyde team are the first to suggest using an asteroid, whose gravitational field could have a positive effect on the creation and positioning of the cloud.

The asteroid, most likely 1036 Ganymed, the largest near-Earth asteroid, would be fitted with a mass driver, which can be used to position the rock into a Lagrangian point L1, where the gravitational pull from the Earth and the sun are balanced. The mass driver could then blast the surface of the asteroid to create a giant dust cloud. The asteroids gravitational field will ensure that the cloud doesn’t disperse too much.

The team of researchers claim that this method of geo-engineering will be much cheaper than the using mirrors in space to reflect the sunlight away from the Earth.

By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com



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