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We have technology. Aircrafts could spray particles into the atmosphere to fight climate change. But should we?

If climate change models are right, humanity is working on itself and pulling the rest of life on Earth with it – in the corner. The scientific effort to control emissions and combat climate change would start with a certain effect, but that is not enough. Therefore, it is now difficult for us to make decisions.

If you have not heard the words "solar energy" and "stratospheric spray injection", you might need to get used to them. They represent a scientifically and technologically realistic plan for controlling climate change if not all other management and economic models can do this. The idea has been a while, but in the past it is considered too expensive.

Now the new research material Environmental Research Letters analyzes what is needed to use the aircraft to sputter sulfates into the stratosphere to cool the climate. Both authors are Wake Smits from Yale and Gernot Wagner from Harvard. And when you feel the shock of your ideas, if you feel that it is, the paper offers some thoughtful parameters for the entire company.

"… a hypothetical deployment program that has been in existence for 15 years … it would be technically feasible for engineering to be rigorous," Dr. Gernot Wagner, Harvard Solar Geoengineering Research Program Director.

First let's decide a couple of myths. It has nothing to do with solar radiation, chemicals, or mind control. Nothing human can do, can reduce the sun. Chemtrails are unknowingly feverish dreams, and mind control is only … regardless of it. Both Smith and Wagner are serious people and they deserve attention.

Wagner is Harvard's researcher and co-director of the Harvard Solar GeoGeneration Research Program and author of the book Climate Blow. Smith has an MBA and Commercial Aviation Career, as well as funding behind him, and writes about logistics and solar radiation management and engineering costs. These two are well equipped to carry out this study.

What are we really talking about here?

Let's imagine a world where scientists have discovered that our emissions are warming the world and that people are too unwilling to change their emissions. Our management techniques and economic methods are not able to carry out work. You really do not have to imagine it, because it's basically where we are.

In this situation, scientists must strive to devise technological solutions, while hoping that politics and the economy will ultimately achieve this. And this leads us to these two ideas: solar energy technology and stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI).

When mt Pinatubo broke out in the Philippines in 1991, and it produced 20 million tonnes of SO2 in the atmosphere. Over the next few years, the global temperature dropped by 0.5 Celsius. Image Credit: US Geological Survey Photo courtesy of Richard P. Hoblitt. - archived source link, public domain,
When mt Pinatubo broke out in the Philippines in 1991, and it produced 20 million tonnes of SO2 in the atmosphere. Over the next few years, the global temperature dropped by 0.5 Celsius. Image Credit: US Geological Survey Photo courtesy of Richard P. Hoblitt. – archived source link, public domain,

Solar power engineering is also called solar radiation management (SRM). The idea is to make the atmosphere more reflective of the solar radiation in space. SRM tries to increase Earth's albedo or reflection.

Some SRM methods offer to protect and restore Earth's naturally reflective surfaces, such as sea ice, snow and glaciers. They would involve large engineering projects and would be costly. There is no guarantee that they will work.

The new study, published by Smith and Wagner, draws attention to one more talk about SRM: stratospheric spray injections (SAIs).

Stratospheric Aerosol Injection focuses on the idea of ​​a stratospheric sulfate atmosphere, about 20 kilometers in height. It is well-grounded that the IAEA could prevent major climate change, be relatively inexpensive, could come into force quickly, and be counterproductive, given the direct climatic impact. Sounds pretty good, but there are some disadvantages.

Previous ideas OR suggested using artillery, existing aircraft or balloons to inject sulfates or their precursors into the stratosphere. But each of these has its own problems. The new study focuses on the development of new aircraft to deliver sulfates to the stratosphere.

Strong 20 kilometers swimming in the stratosphere is not an easy task. This is not something we should do just a few times so that we can simply use expensive rockets and eat costs. A successful SAS project would be a multi-year project involving a specialized fleet of aircraft located in several locations around the world.

In his study, Smith and Wagner analyze the costs of aircraft fleet development and development, which can halve the increase in anthropogenic radiation exposure. The fleet will start small and increase over time and will begin to operate within 15 years. They looked at the existing aircraft and concluded that none of them was practical. Within 15 years there is plenty of time to develop the required aircraft and get it tested and licensed.

The study looked at existing aircraft such as NASA
The study looked at existing aircraft, such as NASA's Global Hawk. It can carry heavy loads at high altitudes within 24 hours. But Global Hawk, like all other existing aircraft, is not able to meet SAIL requirements. Image Credit: NASA Photo / Tom MIller

"No existing aircraft has the required height and payload combination" – Wake Smith, co-author of the study.

A 20-kilometer long flight requires a specialized aircraft. The jets and wings must be different than all that we have now and the engines should be specialized. In order to carry out the study, they consulted several aircraft manufacturers, engine manufacturers and other companies, including Airbus, Atlas Air, Boeing, Bombardier, GE Engines, Gulfstream, Lockheed Martin, NASA, Near Space Corporation, Northrup Grumman, Rolls Royce Engines and others.

They call your proposed aircraft TRUCK: Stratospheric Aerosol Injection Lofter.

Both researchers are clearly on their motives. They do not make any assessment about the use of SAIL to combat climate change. They just wanted to figure out this idea and find out what a realistic SBA program could be, and what is the timing and effectiveness.

One of the authors of the study, Gernot Wagner, said: "Although we do not think about the desirability of AAI, we show that a hypothetical deployment program that has been in place for 15 years, from the moment, although uncertain and ambitious, would be technically possible from an engineering point of view. It would also be significantly cheap, on average about 2 to 2.5 billion years in the first 15 years. "

Other studies have concluded that the current aircraft could be changed to combat climate change, but scientists found that this was not the case. Wake Smith, in a press release, said: "I am driven by engineering issues related to the IAEA, and many studies aimed at demonstrating that existing aircraft could do the work of transformation. It turns out that this is not the case. It would really accept a completely new aircraft design to make the SAI reasonable, albeit completely hypothetical. None of the existing aircraft has the necessary heights and load capacity. "

NASA's WB-57 is another high-level research aircraft that the authors of the study considered unsuitable for SAIL. Image: NASA / Johnson Space Center.
NASA's WB-57 is another high-level research aircraft that the authors of the study considered unsuitable for SAIL. Image: NASA / Johnson Space Center.

This new SAIL aircraft should carry 25 tons of payload to a height of 20 kilometers and maintain a flight there. So, what would be this new aircraft?

The aircraft itself would require larger wings, doubling the size of existing aircraft and doubling its tractive power. "We developed SAIL specifications with a direct contribution from a number of space and engine companies, which is equivalent to the weight of large narrow-body passenger airplanes. But in order to maintain a flight level of 20 km, it should be about twice as large as the plane of an equivalent plane plane and double the traction force , not with two four engines, "Smith said.

According to the study, the SAIL plywood seems to be a stubble and narrow, size to accommodate "heavy but thick fused sulfur, not the large amount of space and air required for the comfort of passengers. Therefore, SAIL would have a much wider end than the length of the wing."

The engines would have modified versions of existing engines called "low bypass". Although these engines exist, they are not widely used as they are not profitable. They outside of them carry other engines at these extreme heights, though.

Both researchers suggest starting with 8 planes flying about 4,000 flights a year, and increasing each year by 4,000, the more aircraft are delivered online. 15 years after launch, the fleet will number almost 1,000. They will fly from arrays around the world, at latitudes 15 and 30 degrees north and south of the equator. The goal would be to inject ~ 0,1 Mt S in the first year, then linearly increasing at a rate of ~ 0,1 Mt per year.

Detailed SAIL Flight Activity Table. Image: Smith and Wagner, 2018.
Detailed SAIL Flight Activity Table. Image: Smith and Wagner, 2018.

Smith and Wagner conclude that their SAIL program would not be so expensive. Their analysis shows that the program will cost about 2.25 billion dollars a year in the first 15 years of deployment. This includes the design, testing and production of a new aircraft type, the modification of existing engines and operating costs. It's not much compared to the $ 240 billion lost by the US economy over the last decade due to climate change.

Dr. Wagner said the German prime minister said: "Given the potential benefits of halving the average projected increase in the amount of infiltration of the satellite by 2020, these figures refer to the" incredible economy "of solar engineering. Tens of countries could finance such a program and the technology needed is not specific exotic. "

The main goal of the SAIL program would be to buy time for us. It would not solve our emissions problem. SAIL is only a temporary mitigation method. It will not reduce CO2 in the atmosphere and will not stop other effects of climate change, such as acidification of the oceans. It only reflects sunlight in space.

Here's where it gets tough. Assuming that Wagner and Smith are right, should we use SAIL to fight climate change?

There are concerns about the idea of ​​climate change technology. Some organizations are afraid that the development of this type of technology would allow dishonest regimes to do so secretly. The authors disperse these fears by saying that it would not be possible to hide this flight level by engaging partner countries around the world.

Smith said, "No global program of higher education that deals with scale and nature can not reasonably expect secrecy to be maintained. Even our hypothetical year-round deployment program involves 4,000 flights at unusually high altitudes with airplanes in multiple corridors in both hemispheres This is too much aviation activity to remain undetected, and as soon as it is discovered, such a program could be deterred. "

Some climate change activists are cautious OR, because they think it will lead to lower apathy. They say that we will become dependent on it and give a justification so that we do not increase GHG emissions. With the help of Geoengineering Monitor, you can find these concerns that are explained and expanded. They are worried that large companies involved in fossil fuel mining will finance geo-engineering projects that will allow them to continue their business as usual.

Geoengineering Monitor
Geoengineering Monitor and "HOME manifest." It's a little over dramatic, but it highlights it. Image: Geoscience Monitor.

In any case, using high-altitude airplanes to combat climate change, everything is being discussed on this issue. There is a body called the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Under the CBD, 193 countries signed a moratorium on geo-engineering and agreed that there was a need for a global mechanism to regulate it.

But the SAIL program is a system that does not start up to 15 years. Is there enough five years to develop a global mechanism for a geoengineering plan to combat climate change? It could be hoped.

We support ourselves in the corner. The longer we wait for meaningful activity in the field of emissions, the more attention should be paid to our measures. Our concerns, whether justified or not, will have to be overcome if we want to use SAIL to combat the effects of climate change.

We have got this situation and we have to get out of it.

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