Flannery and Global Dimming

Australian Professor Tim Flannery is one of the more respected, level headed and media-compatible type of boffins and has a deep affection for the natural world. He also has a special interest in global warming and doesn’t pull any punches when discussing how serious the situation is or the sacrifices we may have to make to get things under control.

But this latest suggestion from him made my jaw drop – global dimming. I’d heard the idea thrown out there before by others, but just disregarded it as insane.. in fact, I still feel that way.

Professor Flannery feels that climate change is occurring so rapidly that humanity may need to consider pumping sulphur gas in huge quantities into the atmosphere. The gas would, theoretically, deflect the sun’s rays and slow global warming. It would also change the color of the sky, hence the term “global dimming”.

Additionally, he believes that this process would need to start within the next *5 years*.

This is just tragic – that we’ve come this far that such drastic measures may need to be taken. Can you imagine future generations not being able to see the real sky *anywhere* in the world just because of us?

In my lifetime, I’ve certainly seen changes in the sky; mainly at sunrise and sunset. There’s an old sailor’s saying that goes:

“Red sunset at night, a sailor’s delight
Red sunrise at morning, sailors take warning”

Even during my professional fishing days of 20 years ago here in Australia, that saying was often observed. These days, there’s a red sunrise and red sunset just about every day the sky is clear due to increased dust levels. Beautiful as it is, it’s a constant reminder to me that something isn’t right on Planet Earth.

We’ve touched/damaged so much of our planet – even outside our atmosphere, man’s footprint can be seen. I was outside star gazing the other night briefly and in just a few minutes, I counted multiple satellites. I can deal with that as many of those satellites perform important tasks, but global dimming, something so completely noticeable and completely encompassing?

I don’t know if I want to live in that sort of world, but no doubt it would be acceptable to many rather than the alternative. The future is looking increasingly like one of those Armageddon style sci-fi movies.

Professor Flannery acknowledges the side effects of such a move are unknown. How would something like this affect plant growth? Animal behaviour? Human behavior for that matter? Could it have the opposite effect? The mind boggles at the possibilities.

This is very scarey stuff.. but perhaps Professor Tim wanted to try and give us all a final in-your-face wake up call as to how close we are to the point of runaway global warming. Certainly caught my attention.

What about you? What are your thoughts on the global dimming solution?