Tech Can't Save Us From Global Warming Catastrophe

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Big ideas like space mirrors and creating more clouds won't help with global warming, but cutting emissions will, argues a new study.

"Climate engineering doesn't offer a perfect option," said Daniela Cusack, an assistant professor of geography at UCLA and the study's lead author, in a release. "The perfect option is reducing emissions."

We have the technology we need right now, say the authors, to reduce the amount of CO2 being added to the atmosphere each year by 7 gigatons. Human activity creates about 9 gigatons each year.

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A gigaton is 1 billion tons. (A gigaton here, a gigaton there, pretty soon you're talking about real carbon.)

Curbing forest destruction could contain up to 1.3 gigatons of carbon in plant material annually, the study reports.

"We have the technology, and we know how to do it," Cusack said. "It's just that there doesn't seem to be political support for reducing emissions."

The group looked at five strategies for slowing climate change: cutting emissions, storing carbon through plants, weather modification (cloud seeding), storing carbon dioxide as a liquid underground and solar reflection.

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The authors seemed slightly freaked about creating more clouds, actually.

"Cloud seeding sounds simple," Cusack said. "But we really don't understand what would happen to the climate if we started making more clouds."

The most promising technology studied was carbon sequestering, the authors found, but none appeared to be as effective as just cutting emissions.

The study appears in latest issue of the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

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