A sunscreen for Earth

Posted by Daniel Pendick
on Friday, February 02, 2007

The mainstream medium is already calling it the "smoking-gun report." Today, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a summary of its findings to a worried world. (Don't forget that 2006 was the warmest year in the United States on record.)

According to the IPCC report, the effects of rising global average temperatures are being seen throughout the world; some of this change is due to human activity;  and the degree of future warming could have dire consequences for society.

Yes, yes, I know: You've heard this before. Been there, bought the T-shirt. Curtis Struck has a solution, however.

Struck, an astrophysicist at Iowa State University in Ames, has a particular interest in colliding galaxies. He says that if greenhouse-gas emissions cannot be curbed quickly enough to prevent Earth's climatic Titanic from striking the iceberg of global warming, a space-based filter of Moon or comet dust could keep things cool for a while.

In a paper that will appear in a future issue of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, Struck argues orbits exist within the Earth-Moon system that are stable enough to hold a dust shield in place. The shield itself would be donut-shaped and ring the planet. It would eclipse the Sun for varying amounts of time every month. The eclipses would reduce the average amount of solar radiation striking the atmosphere and thus cause overall cooling.

Unfortunately, this particular cloud has a tarnished silver lining. Besides pumping more meteors into Earth's atmosphere, the dust shade would be the equivalent of an eternally shining donut-shaped Full Moon. "Ground and Earth-orbit based astronomy would be devastated in many wavebands," Struck confesses.

And so would subscription rates to Astronomy magazine!  Call me Chicken Little, but I'm against this.

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