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Scientist: Sulfur remedy for greenhouse effect backed by data

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Nobel Prize winner Professor Paul J. Crutzen has stated he has data to support his controversial claim that injecting sulfur into the atmosphere would negate the greenhouse effect.

The data is intended to quiet critics of the theory he first discussed in the scientific journal Climatic Change in August, 2006.

The 1995 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry stated "Our calculations using the best models available have shown that injecting 1 million tonnes of sulfur a year would cool down the climate so the greenhouse effect is wiped out."

The theory uses the idea that an added layer of sulfates in the stratosphere, approximately 16 kilometres above the earth, would reflect sunlight back into space and reduce the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth's surface.

Critics have shown that the earth has struggled for decades to reduce sulfur pollution, and how it is a component of acid rain that kills plantlife and animals.

A large-scale experiment would be impossible to conduct, however scientists have noticed that massive volcanic eruptions have had similar effects on the earth. The 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines lowered temperatures around the world for two years, according to data taken at the time.

Crutzen resparked discussion on the topic, a theory which has been dismissed up until now as dangerous. "Until August this was a taboo issue. But the paper I published really set off some movement in this area. It never hit the level of seriousness which it has taken in the past months," Crutzen said.

Environmental groups are skeptical but agree the idea should be investigated. "This idea should be examined and as a last resort it can buy us a few decades," said Steve Sawyer, a policy adviser for Greenpeace International.

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