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Engineering a Better Climate

Aerosol particles, seawater mist, and transparent screens in space-can these seemingly madcap geo-engineering ideas be the answer to global...

Aerosol particles, seawater mist, and transparent screens in space-can these seemingly madcap geo-engineering ideas be the answer to global warming?

Everybody talks about global warming but nobody does anything about it.Well, almost nobody.While world leaders bicker about how to slow the pace of global climate change, some scientists are proposing audacious global engineering schemes that would actually reverse the effects of global warming. The proposals sound like chapters from a half-baked science-fiction thriller, but today's science fiction may become tomorrow's global energy policy-particularly if the earth's climate system abruptly changes for the worse.The National Academy of Sciences and Britain's Royal Society are preparing reports on the possible benefits and dangers of global climate engineering, and the Obama administration has promised to at least consider such plans. One recent study, by researchers Dr. Eric J. Bickel and Lee Lane, contends that we could cancel out this century's global warming by spending about $9 billion on climate engineering, and that such an approach could benefit the planet as much as carbon cuts, at a fraction of the cost.But critics say that tinkering with the earth's climate could have unforeseen and disastrous consequences, and that such would-be climate "fixes" deflect attention from harder truths: the need to make sharp cuts in carbon emissions.Here's a look at some of the leading climate engineering proposals-and some possible of their problems:

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