Reflecting sun's rays would cause crops to fail, scientists warn

Reflecting sun's rays would cause crops to fail, scientists warn

Proposals to combat climate change by reflecting the sun’s rays back into space would cause widespread crop failure, cancelling out any benefits to farming from the reduction in warming, according to new research. By examining the effects of volcanic eruptions on agriculture – which has a similar effect to proposed artificial methods of scattering solar radiation through aerosols – scientists have concluded that such methods could have unintended consequences.

“[The research was to] find a way to examine the side effects of geoengineering without experimenting on the climate,” said Jonathan Proctor of University of California, Berkeley, lead author of the published in the peer review journal Nature. “[We found] potential adverse effect on agricultural production.” But he said there could be other positive effects that were less easy to capture.

The findings deal another blow to proposals to use to reduce or delay global warming, which some scientists think may be necessary to stave off the worst effects of rising greenhouse gas emissions. Spraying or injecting tiny airborne particles into the stratosphere has been regarded as one of the prime possibilities for geoengineering, by reflecting some of the sun’s rays back into space before they can warm the Earth.

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