While volcanic activity has dropped Earth’s temperatures, concerns focused on the wisdom of releasing sulfur compounds into the atmosphere intentionally.
A few weeks ago, the buzz was that a start-up called “Make Sunsets” would use sulfur-based compounds to counter what “experts” assert is runaway man-caused global warming.
Researchers have largely focused on the idea of injecting sulfur aerosols into the stratosphere, 12 miles into the air, to reflect sunlight and cool down the Earth. Nature does this already: After Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted in 1991, sending 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide spewing into the atmosphere, global temperatures fell by about 1 degree Fahrenheit the following year.
Now, as temperatures around the world continue to rise, “stratospheric solar geoengineering,” as it’s called, is inching ahead. In 2021, the National Academies of Science released a report recommending that the United States “cautiously pursue” solar geoengineering research given the urgency of climate change. The White House is coordinating a five-year research plan. A major project at Harvard University to use balloons to test releasing sulfur particles in the atmosphere, SCoPEx, has been in the works for years.
This is a fascinating development. I am old enough to remember the perils of “acid raid” caused by the acids generated from those sulfur compounds mixed with atmospheric water.
The ecological effects of acid rain are most clearly seen in aquatic environments, such as streams, lakes, and marshes where it can be harmful to fish and other wildlife. As it flows through the soil, acidic rain water can leach aluminum from soil clay particles and then flow into streams and lakes. The more acid that is introduced to the ecosystem, the more aluminum is released.
Some types of plants and animals are able to tolerate acidic waters and moderate amounts of aluminum. Others, however, are acid-sensitive and will be lost as the pH declines. Generally, the young of most species are more sensitive to environmental conditions than adults. At pH 5, most fish eggs cannot hatch. At lower pH levels, some adult fish die. Some acidic lakes have no fish. Even if a species of fish or animal can tolerate moderately acidic water, the animals or plants it eats might not. For example, frogs have a critical pH around 4, but the mayflies they eat are more sensitive and may not survive pH below 5.5.
Sulfur dioxide can be extremely irritating and potentially damaging to the human respiratory system.
- People with lung diseases, such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema will generally have more serious health effects at higher SO2 levels.
- Children are at higher risk from SO2 exposure because their lungs are still developing. They are also more likely to have asthma, which can get worse with SO2 exposure.
- Older adults may be more affected by SO2 exposure, possibly because they are more likely to have pre-existing lung or cardiovascular disease.
- Active people of all ages who exercise or work outdoors have higher exposure to sulfur dioxide than people who are less active.
In the wake of what “experts” have done in the name of pandemic control, many have expressed concern about the nature of the project. Mexico has now cracked down on the project.
The tiny startup Make Sunsets, which had been experimenting with releasing sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere to reflect sunlight in order to cool the earth, said Wednesday it would cease operations for the time being and review its approach after the Mexican government cracked down on solar geoengineering.
…On Friday, the government of Mexico issued a statement that it plans to “prohibit and, where appropriate, stop experimentation practices with solar geoengineering in the country.”
The statement said, “The opposition to these climatic manipulations is based on the fact that there are currently no international agreements that address or supervise solar geoengineering activities, which represent an economically advantageous way out for a minority and risky for the supposed remediation of climate change.”
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