Dimming the sun

By Engr. Edgar Mana-ay

It is perceived by the majority that global warming due to the increase of greenhouse gasses in the earth’s atmosphere is sure to come just as the sun is sure to rise in the east.

However, there are also a minority of scientists and technical people including this writer who are global warming skeptics and doubts if indeed the world will get hot just because of greenhouse gasses (GHG).

To be fair to the global warming fanatics, we discuss hereunder an almost science fiction innovation but has now passed the research stage and in the process of implementation on how to counter the effect of GHG to prevent global warming.

As a backgrounder, GREENHOUSE GASES are anthropogenic (human induced) gases in the atmosphere, which trapped the heat radiated by the earth, thereby causing global warming. Put simply, greenhouse effect means the heat from the sun as absorbed by the earth is NOT allowed to dissipate or radiate back to the atmosphere because of the umbrella like cover of these GHG, mainly carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning of fossil fuels (coal, gasoline, diesel and natural gas).

In Iloilo for example, Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emission is about 45% from electric power plants (mostly coal) and 55% from moving vehicles and stationary engines (mostly gasoline, diesel and LPG). These account for at least 95 percent of total GHG emission in the area. The balance of 5 percent comes from methane (CH3, CH4) emission from garbage dumps and animal wastes such as animal dung, poultry wastes. By the way the greenhouse effect of methane is 25 times more destructive than CO2.

On December of 2015 in Paris, 40,000 delegates from nearly 200 nations have agreed to reduce their respective CO2 emission or carbon footprints in order to keep earth’s temperature rise to within 1.5 degree Centigrade by the end of 2100. Four years have passed since the UN sponsored Paris Agreement on Climate Change known also as COP 21 or the 21st Conference Of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) was signed.

Last December 2019, the UN held the latest COP 25 already in Madrid, Spain. Despite the presence Swedish Greenpeace global warming puppet with Asperger’s syndrome, the poor 16-year-old Greta Thunberg as a catalyst and props, NOTHING AGAIN was agreed on the implementation of Paris COP 21 Accord four years ago. The biggest blow to the UNFCC Conferences was when Pres. Trump withdrew the US support upon assumption of his presidency.

As usual, nations have failed to agree because reducing CO2 means less machines, vehicles and electricity which certainly affects economic growth. For 20 years now, the UN thru its UNFCC initiative (now on COP 26!) have tried to pressure all nations to implement what was agreed in many conferences to reduce man’s carbon footprints in order to avert what most believe is a looming climate crisis but failed.

In view of this, maybe science will make the nations agree and scientists are now offering this geoengineering solution that maybe acceptable to all nations. If we cannot radiate back the heat of the sun because we cannot put our act together to reduce CO2 emission, then  maybe we can DIM or REDUCE the light or heat of the sun that reaches the earth to prevent global warming if indeed CO2 level have reached an alarming level that global warming is inevitable. This is a radical yet novel idea of solar geoengineering that is now proposed by scientists as a last ditch option to buy time until the world agrees to totally eliminate the use of fossil fuels which this writer believes is not possible in the next 100 years. The objective of this solar geoengineering effort would be to slow down the warming of the earth, buying time for humans to finally stop burning fossil fuels and build zero-emission economies.


This “brutally ugly technical fix” as Dr. Keith the lead scientist calls it envisions a fleet of high flying planes releasing sulfur or other chemical compounds in the stratosphere that then form an aerosol mist around the globe. These aerosols would deflect incoming sunlight, dimming the skies below. Think of volcanic eruptions in the magnitude of Mount Tambora in Indonesia in 1816 whose clouds of volcanic ash reached the stratosphere that dimmed the skies over Europe, Asia, and Americas for almost a year. Or the large meteorite that landed on earth 65 million years ago whose dusts covered the earth for hundreds of years that may have led to the demise of the dinosaurs.

These are frightening experiences on how the principle will operate. Assuming the idea actually works, again it would require open-ended commitment among nations to maintain the dimming of the sun; an abrupt stop would crank up the thermostat at a dangerous clip. Polluting the stratosphere also risks more holes in the ozone layer, unpredictable rainfall- and perhaps other unforeseen calamities. Again, remember the dinosaurs! If the world ever does agree to using it, people should know what they are doing – and what the effects of blotting out the sun might be and so this solution is also a long shot.

As pointed out in the book of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas Friedman, Hot, Flat and Crowded, the crisis on climate and energy are interconnected – we can’t solve one without addressing the other. If UNFCC is not effective despite the sciences being presented, then as ordinary citizen we have a larger influence in preserving the environment by living a lifestyle that is not energy intensive. We can use the public transport once in a while (I’m doing it) instead of using our car, and by adapting preservation, recycling and conservation, we reduce production that requires burning of fossil fuels. This is most applicable here in the US where its people are the most extravagant and excessive users of food, water, energy and other resources in the whole world. For according to Helen Keller: “Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all – the apathy of human beings.”