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February 29, 2024

What Could Go Wrong? Let’s Drain the Stratosphere. Or Not.

Earth's atmospheric layers
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J.C. Bruce

One way to fight global warming is to drain the water out of the stratosphere, some scientists theorize.

Which, to my mind, conjures all manner unintended apocalyptic horrors, but here’s the gist of the idea:

The stratosphere is the layer of the Earth’s atmosphere from about 7.5 to 30 miles above the planet, and even though it is very dry holding only a few molecules of water vapor per million parts, there’s enough moisture to create a kind of thermal blanket around our world.

If we could reduce some of that water vapor, more heat would radiate into space cooling things off. Theoretically.

Of course, drain enough moisture out of the sky and you have Mars. Not an attractive alternative.

But hey, what could go wrong?

The science, simplified, is that most of the moisture in the air is in the troposphere, the layer of atmosphere where we live, but that some leaks up into the stratosphere. And that leakage comes mostly from the tropics, which makes intuitive sense.

By shooting dust particles into the sky, ice crystals would form around this additional manmade pollution, and the water would fall out of the stratosphere

So, the answer to global warming, the argument goes, is to pollute the air even more, and we are very adept at that.

This is oversimplified and, admittedly, a little snarky because I am a law abiding citizen and one of the rules I live by is the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Mars once had lots of water and, we can infer, a wet atmosphere. Now it is a near-airless wasteland. Not pointing fingers, but by now we should have learned not to mess with Mother Nature. Isn’t that how we got into this mess in the first place?

That thermal blanket that would be targeted also keeps our planet from being a giant snowball. I’m not overjoyed at the prospect of tinkering with it. I like the idea of a nice protective blanket between me and terrifying vacuum of outer space.

But you can draw your own conclusions from this excellent article in the LiveScience blog.

J.C. Bruce is a journalist and author of The Strange Files series of mysterious adventures. He holds dual citizenship in the United States of America and Florida where he’s losing sleep over rising sea levels.

About Post Author

J.C. Bruce

J.C. Bruce is a journalist and author of The Strange Files series of mysterious novels.
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