Atmospheric Science, Air Pollution, and Global Climate Change

Atmospheric Science, Air Pollution, and Global Climate Change

Mainland coastal areas of the world, such as the hurricane-battered coasts of Florida, Louisiana, Texas, the Carolinas, and other U.S. states, will face similar challenges. In one way or another, global climate change will affect each and every one of us for the remainder of our lifetimes. Climate influences virtually everything around us, from the day’s weather to major storms, from crop success to human health, and from national security to the ecosystems that support our economics. If you are a student in your teens or twenties, the present modification of our climate may well be the major event of your lifetime and the phenomenon that most shapes your future. Global climate change describes trends and variation in Earth’s climate, involving aspects such as temperature, precipitation, and storm frequency and intensity. People often use the term global warming synonymously in casual conversation, but global warming refers specifically to an increase in Earth’s average surface temperature. It is only one aspect of global climate change, although warming does in turn drive other components of climate change.

Global warming is the increase in the average temperature of Earth‘s near-surface air and oceans since the mid-20th century and its projected continuation. According to the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global surface temperature increased 0.74 ± 0.18 °C (1.33 ± 0.32 °F) during the 20th century.[2][A] Most of the observed temperature increase since the middle of the 20th century was caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases, which results from human activity such as the burning of fossil fuel and deforestation.[3]
Global dimming, a result of increasing concentrations of atmospheric aerosols that block sunlight from reaching the surface, has partially countered the effects of greenhouse gas induced warming.

The proposal is to build a very large orbiting shield which will intercept sunlight before it reaches the Earth and reflect it back into space.  The shield will consist of a very thin metal foil covering a sparse matrix of ribs.  In order to minimize the cost, the materials needed for this shield will come from the Moon.  The shield will be built robotically both to save cost and because humans are not suited to working in space.  How large a shield will be necessary?  Our initial estimate is 6 percent of the cross-sectional area of the Earth.  Since the cross-sectional area of Earth is about 50 million square miles, the shield will need to be about 3 million square miles (roughly the size or area of Australia).  Since the shield will orbit the Earth, it will only intercept sunlight when it is on the sunny side of the Earth.  Thus the effect of the shield will be to reduce incident radiation from the Sun by about 3%. How long will it take to build this shield?  Suppose that we could build one square mile in the first year of assembly.  Including three years of startup, the entire project could be completed in 25 years.  One additional year would double the size of the shield to 6 million square miles and give a reduction of 6% in the incident sunlight (if this were deemed necessary). I am not really sure that there is a solution to global warming that everyone is going to agree to. I like the ideas of this man: Hopefully, someday soon there will be a solution that everyone will able to agree on; that will be implemented before it is too late to save our planet.


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