We should just let global warming run its course. It’ll do wonders for school spirit.
That... seems like a leap in logic, huh? Let me start from the beginning. The sky is blue because the chemical makeup of the air scatters that wavelength of light best. If we change that chemical makeup, we can change the colour of the sky. Sulfur dioxide, for example, would paint our sky at sunset a royal purple. Hooray for fun facts, but what does this have to do with global warming? Thank you for your rhetorical question, straw man reader.
Since our current measures to curb global warming are so very lacking, we will one day have to consider how to cool our planet after it becomes unbearably and cataclysmically hotter.
Enter climate engineering. That is to say, purposeful geo-engineering – none of that haphazard global warming we’re stumbling through at the moment. While there are many proposed methods to cool the earth, I would like to focus on the reflective properties of sulfur dioxide seeding. It’s not particularly complicated—as Mother Earth gets the worst kind of baked and temperatures soar, we can counteract the heating by injecting sulfur dioxide into the upper atmosphere, where it will reflect more sunlight back out into space instead of letting it into the atmosphere to continue warming the planet.
Today, this happens on a smaller scale after volcanoes erupt—the ash clouds stop sunlight from warming the ground, but so does the sulfur released. If you want to procrastinate, there is no more majestic way to do so than Googling volcanic eruption sunsets. Why? For a sneak peak of Western U skies.
Dr. Slobodan Simonovic, Western’s professor of civil and environmental engineering seems to be taken aback by the suggestion.
“On principle, I deeply disagree,” he says. Puzzled, I asked the good doctor to elaborate.
Firstly, the doctor stated that he is strictly against climate engineering in general—he thinks it’s too risky. He stresses that we are in a closed loop here on Earth; so, while we’ve heard many times that we should use air conditioning less, use more public transportation, or eat less beef, we know what effects those changes will have. Therefore, we can make those changes safely. But, “Do we know enough about the physical systems and their interactions to change them?”
Most climatologists (along with Dr. Simonovic) don’t think so. While the above examples will help curb global warming (don’t be afraid to ride with the colourful characters on London’s buses, they’re fine people!) these socioeconomic factors affecting the climate are better understood than the physical ones. There are too many unknown variables to consider for the latter. What if we, even through responsible experimentation, somehow accidentally changed the sky to Queen’s colours? Gross.
Even worse, we might try to cool the Earth and somehow induce an ice age, instead. And ice ages are a far cry from pop-culture’s favourite apocalypse—the world freezing to death looks like Snowpiercer, not Mad Max. It certainly doesn’t look like Ice Age, confusingly.
Rational caution aside, I think Western should be pursuing this kind of climate engineering — imagine Mustang Pride spreading across the horizon at sunset. I’m sure the millions of future climate refugees would overlook the destruction of their homes for the chance to take gorgeous Instagram photos of white clouds on a plum sky.