Global Warming Washing Away Entire Communities

We aren't going to be able to stop that, but it may be possible to slow it down. And one idea shows just how desperate the situation has become.

Since the 1970s, scientists have talked about taking bold initiatives to counteract our sins of the past and gain control over the weather. Maybe we could build our own volcanoes that would spew tons of climate-cooling sulfates into the upper atmosphere each year to offset the greenhouse gas emissions.

This nuclear winter scenario would require injecting about as much stuff into the upper atmosphere as the eruption of Mt. Pintabuto in 1991, according to researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder.

That might gain us about 20 years before it all hits the fan, according to the researchers, who say they aren't pushing for this program, although their computer model says it would help.

But the scientists themselves are probably worried about the most likely outcome. More politicians would decide to put off any solutions for 20 years.

These difficult decisions need not be met with panic, unless they are delayed too long. But it will require cooperation on a national level that has been rarely seen in the past. And that won't be easy to accomplish because not everybody faces the same kind of problems from global climate change.

The town I live in is also in Alaska, more than 1,000 miles from Kivalina. Frankly, I could use a little global warming, and the consequences here are likely to be mild, at least compared to Kivalina.

And some communities will clearly benefit from global warming. More rain in some areas will mean better farming.

But weather will probably become more unpredictable, even if we build a few artificial volcanoes, and storms will likely be more powerful. It's not the end of the world, but it could all be made a lot easier if political leaders would do the hard thing and make the tough decisions.

We have a little time. We need to use it wisely.

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