Undeniable climate change facts

Glaciers are melting; sea levels are rising. And 20 of the hottest years on record have occurred since 1996. CNN's Jennifer Gray reports the facts about climate change.

Posted: Dec 5, 2018 2:01 PM
Updated: Dec 5, 2018 2:01 PM

Scientists are proposing an ingenious but as-yet-unproven way to tackle climate change: spraying sun-dimming chemicals into the Earth's atmosphere.

The research by scientists at Harvard and Yale universities, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, proposes using a technique known as stratospheric aerosol injection, which they say could cut the rate of global warming in half.

The technique would involve spraying large amounts of sulfate particles into the Earth's lower stratosphere at altitudes as high as 12 miles. The scientists propose delivering the sulfates with specially designed high-altitude aircraft, balloons or large naval-style guns.

Despite the technology being undeveloped and with no existing aircraft suitable for adaptation, the researchers say that "developing a new, purpose-built tanker with substantial payload capabilities would neither be technologically difficult nor prohibitively expensive."

They estimate the total cost of launching a hypothetical system in 15 years' time at around $3.5 billion, with running costs of $2.25 billion a year over a 15-year period.

The report does, however, acknowledge that the technique is purely hypothetical.

"We make no judgment about the desirability of SAI," the report states. "We simply show that a hypothetical deployment program commencing 15 years hence, while both highly uncertain and ambitious, would indeed be technically possible from an engineering perspective. It would also be remarkably inexpensive."

The researchers also acknowledge potential risks: coordination between multiple countries in both hemispheres would be required, and stratospheric aerosol injection techniques could jeopardize crop yields, lead to droughts or cause extreme weather.

The proposals also don't address the issue of rising greenhouse gas emissions, which are a leading cause of global warming.

And despite the conviction of the report's authors, other experts were skeptical.

"From the point of view of climate economics, solar radiation management is still a much worse solution than greenhouse gas emissions: more costly and much more risky over the long run," said Philippe Thalmann of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, an expert in the economics of climate change.

David Archer of the Department of Geophysical Science at the University of Chicago said, "The problem with engineering climate in this way is that it's only a temporary Band-Aid covering a problem that will persist essentially forever, actually hundreds of thousands of years for fossil fuel CO2 to finally go away naturally.

"It will be tempting to continue to procrastinate on cleaning up our energy system, but we'd be leaving the planet on a form of life-support. If a future generation failed to pay their climate bill they would get all of our warming all at once."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Stearns234519
Dakota228690
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Olmsted110115
Washington106940
Mower9452
Rice8357
Scott7004
Clay58538
Kandiyohi5701
Wright4565
Blue Earth4532
Todd4002
Carver3641
Lyon3092
Sherburne3075
Freeborn2900
Steele2281
Watonwan2160
Benton2143
St. Louis17715
Martin1635
Nicollet15912
Cottonwood1340
Goodhue1298
Winona12215
Crow Wing10612
Pine1030
Le Sueur981
Chisago971
Otter Tail931
McLeod880
Carlton850
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Unassigned7637
Isanti720
Itasca6412
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Jackson550
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Swift211
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Wilkin203
Redwood180
Cass152
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Kanabec141
Koochiching141
Roseau130
Marshall120
Grant100
Lincoln100
Pope100
Mahnomen81
Clearwater70
Hubbard60
Lake60
Traverse50
Lac qui Parle40
Stevens40
Red Lake30
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 30377

Reported Deaths: 720
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6332179
Woodbury320644
Black Hawk219658
Buena Vista170711
Linn124282
Johnson12388
Dallas123529
Marshall104119
Story7513
Pottawattamie71911
Scott71910
Wapello70530
Crawford6752
Muscatine62444
Dubuque62122
Sioux4600
Tama46029
Wright3771
Louisa36013
Jasper32117
Plymouth3135
Warren2641
Dickinson2602
Washington2349
Hamilton1871
Webster1712
Cerro Gordo1471
Boone1451
Clarke1292
Clay1280
Allamakee1264
Mahaska11517
Shelby1140
Clinton1051
Poweshiek1048
Carroll931
Pocahontas931
Bremer916
Des Moines862
Henry863
Franklin840
Cedar811
Emmet800
Taylor790
Cherokee751
Monona740
Floyd702
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Hardin670
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Sac630
Benton621
Jefferson590
Osceola590
Jones560
Harrison530
Humboldt531
Lee532
Butler522
Iowa510
Buchanan501
Monroe506
Hancock490
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Madison422
Lyon410
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Davis391
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Mitchell370
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Palo Alto360
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