Saving the Earth Requires Billions of Tons of Sulfuric Acid

first_img So we’ve probably fucked the planet. Yeah, it can be stopped, but it probably won’t be. The Paris Climate Agreement shoots to limit the increase in global temps to 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius. The problem is, we’d have to get a lot more aggressive than we currently are to hit those targets, for one, and secondly, even that increase could still be catastrophic. But, at this point, we’re just trying to stop the bleeding.Some scientists have suggested that we could re-engineer the atmosphere to help mitigate increasing temperatures. A new paper in Science suggests that such a strategy could work, and it’s based on a natural phenomenon — volcanic eruptions.When a volcano goes off, it ejects a ridiculous amount of sulfur and other particulates into the atmosphere. That helps cool the planet by blocking some of the sunlight from ever reaching the surface. Scientists, dismayed by the meager progress from the public and from politicians, are looking to adapt that into a technology known as Stratosphere Aerosol Modification.First, let’s be clear: we really, really, really want to not do this, it’s the best of a bunch of bad ideas and may not even be possible on the scales we need anyway. It is a last resort, but one that is looking increasingly and unfortunately necessary.Anyway, that said, the researchers concluded that it might be possible to use sulfur dioxide to help unfuck the planet. But there’s a ton of caveats (because of course there are). One of the big ones? This cannot replace just reducing carbon emissions. It’s not enough on its own to totally offset the warming we currently expect, and the more we inject into the atmosphere, the less effective the injections are.Credit: N. CARY/SCIENCENext, it could have some pretty disastrous effects on all kinds of atmospheric systems. For one, sulfur dioxide may help block sunlight, but it also absorbs heat from the lower atmospheric layers. This could alter how the winds of the stratosphere move around, limiting the proper spread of the gas and possible applications for aiding the planet. That’s not to mention possible effects it may have on global rainfall and other weather patterns driven by stratospheric conditions.The last issue, and possibly the biggest — it’s going to cost more than we can fathom. The scientists used a very optimistic model suggesting that large-scale carbon capture and aggressive reduction in CO2 emissions would start by 2040 (that’s cute). And even with that, we’d need to inject sulfur every day for 160 years. That’s equivalent to one Mount Pinatubo explosion. Every. Year. And the kicker? That’s just to keep at 2 degrees. This is what we would have to do to hit the targets the Paris Climate Agreement laid out.So… what does this mean? Well, the program would start at $20 billion/year to design and operate enough planes to meet the 6700 flights that would need to be made each day. It gets more expensive with time, too. This is because we’ll have to offset other climate effects with the technology we haven’t even thought of yet.And that’s assuming we’ve figured out all the issues with SAM in the first place, or can make enough sulfur dioxide to pull this off. We’d need four billion metric tons a year. Also, for those of you who just now remembered your high school chemistry classes — why yes, we’re talking about injected SULFUR F*CKING DIOXIDE INTO OUR F*CKING ATMOSPHERE. WHEN IT COMBINES WITH WATER IT FORMS SULFURIC F*CKING ACID. WHAT THE F*CK. HOW ARE WE HERE. WHAT THE F*CK IS WRONG WITH US. I mean GAAAAAH!Oh… and uhh… sulfur smells awful. So there’s that.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Stay on target Watch: Dolphin Leaps Feet Away From Unsuspecting SurferNASA Says 2 Asteroids Will Safely Fly By Earth This Weekend last_img read more

Last Female of Rare Turtle Species Dies in China Zoo

first_img Watch: Florida Panthers Hit With Mysterious Crippling DisorderWorld’s Last Loa Water Frogs Found Malnourished, Rescued in Chile Stay on target A zoo in southern China is reporting that the only known female member of one of the world’s rarest and most endangered turtle species died Saturday. It was more than 90 years old.The female Yangtze giant softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) died at the Suzhou Zoo in Suzhou, China a day after an attempt at artificial insemination, part of an effort to help save its species from extinction. The death means only three giant softshell turtles remain in the world.The city government said in a statement that experts have already used technology to collect the turtle’s ovarian tissue for future research.The world’s rarest turtle, Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle, saw one more death at Suzhou Zoo, E.China’s Jiangsu on Sat. The death of the only known female in China increases the extinction risk of the species, whose population now drops to three (1 in China, 2 in Vietnam). pic.twitter.com/aTJFCL1HGw— People’s Daily, China (@PDChina) April 14, 2019The Suzhou zoo is home to another Yangtze giant softshell turtle — a male. Two others live in Vietnam, but they are both thought to be males.According to state-run newspaper People’s Daily, the turtle had been inseminated five times since 2008. Although the last insemination was said to have gone smoothly and the turtle appeared to be in fine health after the procedure, her condition deteriorated the following day.The last female Yangtze giant softshell turtle is seen here in 2015 during an attempt at artificial insemination. (Photo Credit: VCG/VCG via Getty Images)In 2015, scientists from the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA), San Diego Zoo Global, and Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Bronx Zoo, assisted in an attempt for artificial insemination, in what was then called a “last chance” to breed the rare turtle.The female turtle was transferred to Suzhou Zoo from Changsha Ecological Zoo in 2008 to be paired with the male, believed to be more than 100 years old, as part of a captive breeding program designed to recover the species. Although the two turtles have displayed courting behavior, eggs laid by the female were infertile.The male Yangtze giant softshell turtle at Suzhou Zoo is seen here in 2015. It is now believed to be one of only three remaining in the world. (Photo Credit: VCG/VCG via Getty Images)Listed at the top of the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species, as critically endangered, the Yangtze giant softshell turtle is the most critically endangered turtle in the world. Much of its demise has been attributed to over-harvesting and habitat degradation.More on Geek.com:Endangered Whale Species Experience Mini Baby BoomMore Than 40 Animals Rescued From Notorious ‘Zoo of Sorrows’ in GazaRussia to Free 100 Orcas, Belugas Held in ‘Whale Jail’last_img read more