Ruminations

Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Blocking The Sun

People living in northern latitudes are particularly susceptible to low levels of vitamin D in their bodies. Medical science has latterly advised that people should make an effort to increase their vitamin D intake. We have adequate opportunity during summer to expose our bare skin to the sun, which produces vitamin D, but the body does not manufacture it as it might other needed vitamins and minerals, through food uptake.

Without exposure to sun in the growing season it's obvious plant life languishes. Full sun during the summer, at least sufficient exposure to sun aids plants in their growing cycles, through photosynthesis, just as photosynthesis gives colour to fish in the oceans. All living, growing organisms are dependent on radiation from the sun to flourish, although too much exposure can also be harmful. Nature generally strikes a balance.

So what's this? A research paper out of the University of Calgary, by researcher David Keith, published in the science journal Nature suggests that blocking out some of the sun's rays may prove an efficient way of controlling Earth's temperature. As opposed to the current problems and solutions relating to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Is this wise? Don't we tamper with nature more than enough as it is? Haven't we, by our various machinations and intemperate manipulations of nature caused more than enough problems? Is it even feasible that radiation from the sun can be blocked on a scale sufficient to counteract greenhouse gas emissions?

Climate manipulation has gone on for quite a long time, since humankind introduced modern technology to enhance our way of enjoying our presence on this Globe. But manipulation on this kind of scale? Of course the manipulation has been unintended. We have altered our environment without meaning to.

The sun, after all, is our single more important attribute, benefiting life on Earth in ways we haven't entirely grasped. Life on Earth, in fact, would not exist without the sun.

But Mr. Keith speaks of the potential for reflecting solar radiation back into space by releasing megatonnes of light-scattering aerosol particles. Although there are other sun-reflecting techniques that will be explored. Bankrolled by the world's wealthiest man, Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates.

Geoengineering is a new science exploring possibilities never before imagined. Isn't that just like human beings? The hubris of whom cannot be overestimated. Greek legend had Icarus rebuked for Daedalus's ambition. Might we not be better off leaving such monumental aspirations on the drawing board?

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