His team suggests their "bio-geoengineering" approach as a more immediately practical option. Indeed, global agriculture already produces a cooling of climate because crop plants tend to reflect more sunlight back out to space than the natural vegetation they have replaced. By specifically selecting crop varieties with even higher reflectivity, a property known as albedo, that effect might be increased enough to lower the air temperature even further.
They say the climate control strategy could help reduce the severity of agricultural and health impacts of heat waves as well as droughts in some regions of the world, and at very little cost. Ultimately, further regional cooling of climate could be achieved through selective breeding of plants with even greater reflective properties than those now available or by genetically modifying crop plants to optimize their albedo.
" The continuing lack of international agreement in substantially limiting or curbing carbon dioxide emissions is driving the state of the climate system closer to suspected points of catastrophic, or at least extremely costly, changes, including sea-level rise and ecosystem disruption," Ridgwell said. "Our proposal cannot provide a full solution to climate change, but it can reduce the severity of agricultural and health impacts of heat waves as well as droughts in much of central North America and mid-latitude Eurasia. Thus, while it is not a substitute for carbon dioxide emissions reductions, considering its relatively low cost, albedo bio-geoengineering could be employed as a temporary measure for helping reduce climate change impacts."
|Contact: Cathleen Genova|