Every time a volcano erupts, the subject of geoengineering arises, and Iceland’s recent event won’t be any different. The question is, however, could this “cure” for the earth’s problems be more dangerous than the problem itself.
Geoengineering is the somewhat dubious and experimental theory of actually changing the Earth’s climate to suit our particular needs, and at the same time counteracting the effects of global warming from greenhouse gas emissions. Scientists have been working on these theories for several decades, but the problems of cost, and possible consequences of dealing with this unknown procedure have put implementing this procedure on hold.
Recently, the volcanic eruption in Iceland produced a lot of problems with travel and commerce, but didn’t manage to project ash into the stratosphere where it would have any real effect in blocking the sun’s rays. However, every time a volcano erupts, scientists and environmentalists bring up the subject of duplicating this natural process.
The bottom line is that no one is actually sure how tampering with the stratosphere would affect our planet in the long run. And, while theoretically, blocking excessive sunlight, would slow down what many people believe to be a global warming crisis, pumping man made chemicals into the stratosphere above us is still a scary option.
Volcanoes actually cool down the earth, at least for awhile, naturally, by the volcanic by- product of ash clouds that deflect the sun’s rays. When the volcano is strong enough to project ash into the stratosphere, the result is noticeable.
During the period between 1810 and 1819, two volcanic eruptions caused one of the coldest periods on earth in the last 500 years. Crops failed to grow throughout many parts of the world, snow fell in summer, days were dark and hazy and sunsets became strange displays of purples and reds. For most of the world, these strange events were unexplained, but we now know that the eruption of Tambora, a massively powerful volcano, in 1815, and another, as yet unknown volcano, that erupted before it, caused the “year without a summer”, in 1815.
These volcanoes accomplished what many geoengineers want to do artificially, block the sunlight, and lower temperatures.
Opponents and skeptics of geoengineering point out that carbon, trapped on the earth as a result of man made procedures might have adverse effects on oceans and other aspects on life on earth. They also point out that since we have no idea what effect altering the stratosphere might have on the earth, it is equally possible that rather than benefiting the world, it might produce conditions like those in 1815. World food shortages, and other consequences would result.
The recent volcanic eruption in Iceland wasn’t powerful enough to accomplish any effect on global temperature, because ash did not reach into the stratosphere. Environmentalists claim that the real benefit that this volcano had on carbon emissions was the fact that so many planes were left stranded on the runways across Europe.