Imagine what alien space visitors would think of a planet so fabulously bedecked in mirrors that it resembled a 70's era disco ball. It sounds like sci fi fantasy (or a whole lot of something slipped in your Koolaid) but the earth as disco ball is one of several geo-engineering solutions being seriously considered
by top scientists form the British Royal Society as a means to slow the effects of global warming.
Geo-engineering is a relatively new branch of science that attempts to put forth bold (one might say whacky) ideas for mediating the effects of climate change in the now likely scenario of a 2-5 degree global temperature rise.
John Shepherd, an Earth Sciences professor from England testified this month before a U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science & Technology. The hearing is an important turning point for the field of geo-engineering as it has historically been marginalized in the climate discussion. But as Shepherd explains, it's time to start thinking out of the box:
It's too soon to think about actually doing any of these things, but it's the right time for some serious research and for some funding from the government.
There are two ways to reverse global climate change via geo-engineering. One is to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emitted by dramatically increasing the planet's capacity to absorb CO2 by, for instance massive mechanical trees that line the roads and vacuum up car emissions.
The second looks at reducing the amount of solar radiation striking the surface of the earth -- for instance, using sulphur aerosols to make clouds extra-fluffy and more reflective.
The winner for sheer fabulousness has to go to the mirror scheme -- a plan to jettison 1 million small mirrors into the earth's orbit every 30 minutes for the next 30 years, essentially enshrouding the earth in a sparkling display of solar radiation management.
But I wonder... how would all those solar investors feel about the earth disco ball?