Thursday, October 11, 2007

David Schnare has heard the warnings: Miami will be underwater in 100 years,

along with nearly half of Florida, if something isn’t done about global warming. But what to do?

“On global warming, is it man-made? Is it a natural cycle?” asks Mr. Schnare, senior environmental fellow at the Thomas Jefferson Institute of Public Policy, “I don’t care and nobody else should either in large measure, because the temperature is going up. As long as the temperature is going up, who cares what causes it? The question becomes, ‘Can we fix the problem?’ ”

Mr. Schnare says that geo-engineering can fix the problem much cheaper than efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

A geo-engineering method involving aerosols is “one-one-thousandth less expensive than trying to control the emission of greenhouse gases,” Mr. Schnare says. Using aerosols to “put small reflective particles in the troposphere … will stabilize the global temperature at a level that will prevent melting of the glaciers and thus prevent a rise in ocean level.”

Casting aerosol particles into the upper atmosphere to reduce global warming would cost a mere $1 billion, Mr. Schnare says.

The aerosol approach could work, says Alan Carlin, an economist who says that natural volcanic eruptions and man-made aerosol particles have similarities in their effects on global warming.

“Ashes from volcanic eruptions release sulfate particles in the atmosphere, which causes a fraction of that incoming sunlight to be reflected back into outer space,” said Mr. Carlin, who works at the Environmental Protection Agency but emphasized that his views are not the federal agency’s official policy.

But Vicki Arroyo, director of policy analysis at the Pew Center of Global Climate Change, said that “depending on geo-engineering is a dangerous delusion,” which she compared to “a fad diet or liposuction” in an article in the current issue of the Environmental Forum.

Mr. Carlin, however, says “it is important that everyone understand about the proposals that many environmentalist organizations advocate about reducing carbon emissions; it is highly unlikely that they will succeed from preventing changes in global warming.”

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