Should mankind engineer nature as a "last resort" to halt global warming? On NBC's Dec. 26 broadcast of "Nightly News," network correspondent Donna Friesen floated several means by which man could not only alter the weather, as the Chinese did in Beijing for the 2008 Summer Olympics, but the entire earth's climate.
"But now the magnitude of global warming has led some scientist to go much further," Friesen said. "From putting trillions of parasols in space that would block the sun to using airplanes, balloons, even missiles that would block the sun to pump sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere - the same stuff volcanoes emit. It reduces the amount of sunlight reaching earth. It's called geo-engineering."
There was some skepticism offered during Friesen's segment, including Martin Bunzl of Rutgers University, who likened it to an untested vaccine.
"It's rather like developing an AIDS vaccine and not being able to test it before you give it to everyone in the world at the full dosage," Bunzl said. "And I think that's a pretty dangerous way to proceed with science."
Therefore, it means one of two things according to Friesen - either invest more into this type of science, or just go with the company line that NBC and other media outlets have been promoting and cut carbon emissions.
"All the more reason, say some scientists, to invest in serious geo-engineering research now rather than wait until there's a crisis," Friesen said. "[N]o one believes these schemes are magic bullets that will fix the climate. Cutting carbon emissions is still the real solution, but geo-engineering could end up being a last resort."