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The Outlandish, Scary Schemes Being Studied to Cool the Planet


  • From sun-ray mirrors to microbubbles and iron in the oceans
  • Is the world ‘past a point of no return’ on curbing emissions?


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Fighting Climate Change, Without the U.S.
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Fighting Climate Change, Without the U.S.

Plan B is coming out of the shadows in the global-warming debate. The question on the table: With hope dimming that humankind can effectively curb carbon emissions, is it time to strong-arm nature to turn the thermostat down?

To scientists who study geoengineering, this is within the realm of possibility. The idea is to manipulate the climate, by planting millions of trees to clear the air or — at the other extreme — creating a mirror of chemicals in the heavens to reflect the sun’s heat away from Earth. Some of the schemes are outlandish, if not downright scary. A small though increasingly vocal band of experts in the field contends the options must at least be explored.

Scientists including David Keith at Harvard University and Antonio Busalacchi of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Researchare advocating that more resources be devoted to the discipline.