When a small measure of light is reflected back into space before it hits Earth's surface it could result in reversing global warning, claims a new study.
A U.N. climate conference in South Africa on Friday said that the concept of solar radiation management would have an immediate and dramatic effect on global temperatures.
AdvertisementWithin a few years, temperatures could return to levels of 250 years ago, before the industrial revolution began dumping carbon dioxide into the air, trapping heat and causing temperatures to rise, the report said.
The Washington-based Environmental Defense Fund and TWAS, the academy of sciences for the developing world based in Trieste, Italy however admitted that they do not know what the side effects would be.
The idea of solar radiation management 'has the potential to be either very useful or very harmful', they said.
The new report is the climax of a year-long dialogue spanning experts in 22 countries.
It was prompted by the failure of a 20-year U.N. negotiating process to take decisive action to curb greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, responsible for climate change.
"The slow progress of international climate negotiations has led to increased concerns that sufficient cuts in greenhouse gas emissions may not be achieved in time to avoid unacceptable levels of climate change," the report said.
But geoengineering is not an alternative to climate action, said John Shepherd, a British oceanographer from the University of Southampton who was the lead author of the report.
"Nobody thought this provides a justification for not reducing carbon emissions," Shepherd said.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sees temperatures rising as much as 6.4 degrees Celsius (11.5 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100, swelling the seas with melted glacial water and disrupting climate conditions around the globe.