Scientists urge ‘risky’ measures in climate fight

Countries must consider extreme technical solutions to global warming, such as blocking out the sun or dumping iron into oceans to boost plankton growth, scientists have warned in a new collection of papers published by the Royal Society, the independent British scientific academy.

The experts say political inaction has allowed carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere to rise unchecked, with potentially catastrophic consequences. They call for more research on geo-engineering options to cool the planet.

Brian Launder, from the University of Manchester, and Michael Thompson, of the University of Cambridge, say: "While such geoscale interventions may be risky, the time may well come when they are accepted as less risky than doing nothing."

Critics argue such measures are a distraction from attempts to limit emissions and that they could have dangerous side-effects. Mike Childs of Friends of the Earth said: "We can’t afford to wait for magical geo-engineering solutions to get us out of the hole we have dug ourselves into. The solutions that exist now, such as a large-scale energy efficiency programme and investment in wind, wave and solar power, can do the job if we deploy them at the scale and urgency that is needed."

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