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Name: John Hawley
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Question:
If we do not do enough to thwart Global Warming, and the oceans start to rise, could we use the effects of Nuclear Winter to offset global warming? Of course we would have to be careful about radiation and radioactive contamination by using the cleanest possible nuclear devices.



Replies:
This is a good question, but fortunately you do not have to use nuclear bombs to put the dust and particles in the atmosphere. The idea is to reflect sunlight back to space and you could do this by putting lots of sulfur particles into the atmosphere. You do not need dust from nuclear explosions, you could just use rockets or supersonic transports or whatever to get the sulfate particles up to the correct height in the atmosphere.

The real problem with this is not nuclear winter and radiation, it is that the human race would be playing G What happens if you miscalculate and put too much reflecting material into the atmosphere and send the Earth not only into nuclear winter but into an ice age? I am not sure I would want to risk it. Another idea I like is to have every one in the world paint their roofs and driveways white. Much easier than the first approach although more complicated because of all the clouds and stuff that would be in the way to mess up your calculation of how much white is needed. Cheers,

Marc Fernau


Actually, some scientists (e.g. Reid Bryson at the University of Wisconsin) believe that there is sufficient dust in the atmosphere already to effectively counter any global warming effect from C02. Since the "nuclear winter" effect is due to the huge clouds of debris thrown up into the atmosphere, we could think of all the dust that has already (and is still being) thrown up by less drastic human and natural activities as providing some of this sheltering effect. Good thinking, a global parasol might be helpful. I wonder if we could not provide the shade with less potential harm than nuclear explosions would cause, such as putting a huge tarpaulin into earth orbit to create a solar eclipse.

Don Libby



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