These Scientists Have a Wild Plan to Throw Salt into the Atmosphere. Here’s Why.
Sprinkling large amounts of salt into the atmosphere could stave off climate change, a group of researchers has proposed.
They’ve suggested that, because salt is highly reflective, it could potentially reflect sunlight back into outer space, helping to cool the Earth, they wrote in a report presented at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas on March 21.
But other climate scientists aren’t so sure. This idea falls into the category of geoengineering — a deliberate, large-scale attempt to change the environment as a means to counteract climate change. [Top 10 Craziest Environmental Ideas]
“It’s an interesting idea,” Michael Mann, a distinguished professor of meteorology at Penn State, told Live Science. But “most of these [geoengineering] schemes,though potentially appealing at the surface, are seen to be fraught with potential unintended consequences when you look at them in more detail.”
The salty proposal is more of a last-ditch effort that could be used to offset climate change, in case humans fail to significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions, such as those of carbon dioxide, that are contributing to Earth’s rising temperatures, Science magazine reported. The idea is to seed salt into the upper troposphere, the atmospheric layer most commercial airplanes fly over because of its weather conditions and clouds.