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Giant screen might save the earth.

A parasol in space to shield the Earth from the sun could prevent a worldwide disaster due to the greenhouse effect, Michael Mautner, a New Zealand physical chemist, has suggested to the World Future Society. The warming of the planet due to human activities could cause the polar ice caps to melt and oceans to rise, flooding heavily populated coastal areas.

Current proposals to forestall the greenhouse effect, such as by reforestation to absorb excess carbon dioxide, likely will prove insufficient, Mautner believes, because of the staggering amount of energy released by the sun. However, a space-based approach could succeed. He proposes a climate-controlling fleet of screens that can be placed in orbit between the Earth and the sun in order to redirect an amount of energy up to 1,000,000 times larger than what is required to deploy them.

To compensate for the predicted greenhouse effect, "we need to screen out about three percent of the solar energy incident on Earth. This requires a screen of about 2,000 square kilometers [1,200 square miles]. This is a very large area. In fact, in terms of area at least, the screen would be the largest object ever made by humans." Mautner calculates that it is well within the capability of current technology and suggests that the screen might be located about one-tenth of the distance from the Earth to the sun.

He also foresees the use of space screens to protect people against the rise in ultraviolet radiation believed to be occurring due to the destruction of the ozone layer. The increase in UV radiation is expected to result in a large increase in the number of individuals who suffer from skin cancer due to exposure to the sun.
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Title Annotation:from greenhouse effect
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:Jun 1, 1993
Previous Article:Antarctica had a warmer past.
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