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Recommendation

The Earth has a low-grade fever that’s rising fast. Climate innovation activist Kelly Wanser explains in lay terms the urgency of finding a cure. Alas, to hit upon the right antidote, scientists need to take time to study the long-term impacts of any potential solutions – time the planet can’t afford to waste. It’s a global catch-22. Solutions like marine cloud brightening may offer a temporary cool compress, buying scientists the time they need to reduce global temperatures permanently.

Summary

New regulations intended to reduce the shipping industry’s greenhouse gas emissions present a catch-22 for climate change.

In 2020, new rules will require the global shipping industry to reduce its sulfur emissions by changing to cleaner fuels or cleaning ships’ dirty exhausts. The policy aims to improve air quality, which has health benefits for humans, and to decrease greenhouse gas emissions so the Earth’s atmosphere will trap less heat.

However, the new regulations will trigger an unintended consequence: Sulfur particles from shipping emissions temporarily brighten marine clouds. Brighter clouds deflect sunlight back into space, cooling temperatures on Earth. Most emissions generated by burning fossil fuels contain some degree of sulfur particles, and scientists reckon that their cooling effect could be equal to all the warming the planet has experienced to date. The new shipping regulations will remove some of that thin veil of protection, which will inadvertently exacerbate global warming.

Increasing “atmospheric...

About the Speaker

Climate innovation activist Kelly Wanser is the founder of SilverLining, an organization that lobbies for policy change that will encourage the exploration of immediate interventions to climate change.


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