'Geo-engineering may be panacea for global warming'

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London, Sep 1 (UNI) Even as governments across the world grapple fruitlessly to tackle the menace of global warming, scientists say the need of the hour is to go for 'Geo-engineering'.

Taking cognizance of the inaction to contain the catastrophic temperature rise, scientists from around the world today called for more research on geo-engineering options to cool the Earth, such as dumping massive quantities of iron into oceans to boost plankton growth and seeding artificial clouds over oceans to reflect sunlight back into space.

''While such geoscale interventions may be risky, the time may well come when they are accepted as less risky than doing nothing.

There is increasingly the sense that governments are failing to come to grips with the urgency of setting in place measures that will assuredly lead to our planet reaching a safe equilibrium.'' say papers on the subject, published today by the Royal Society, Brian Launder of the University of Manchester and Michael Thompson of the University of Cambridge.

According to Professor Launder, it was important to research and develop the technologies so that they could be deployed, if necessary. Such geo-engineering options have been talked about for years as a possible last-ditch attempt to control global temperatures, if efforts to constrain emissions fail.

However, critics argue they are a dangerous distraction from attempts to limit carbon pollution, and could have disastrous side-effects.

They would also do nothing to prevent ecological damage caused by the growing acidification of the oceans, caused when carbon dioxide dissolves in seawater. Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change dismissed geo-engineering as ''largely speculative and unproven and with the risk of unknown side-effects''.

''I'm not a huge fan of messing with the atmosphere in an geo-engineering sense, because there could be unpredictable consequences. But, there are also a lot of unpredictable consequences of temperature increase. It does appear that we're failing to act [on emissions]. And if we are failing to act, we have to consider some of the other options,'' the Guardian quoted Dr Alice Bows of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester as saying.

Supporting this view, the experts say a reluctance ''at virtually all levels'' to address soaring greenhouse gas emissions means carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are on track to pass 650 parts-per-million (ppm), which could bring an average global temperature rise of 4C . To overcome this, they say, geo-engineering is the best solution available.

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