It’s a radical idea, and it just might just work. Reducing the amount of light reaching our planet could cool the Earth quickly, even with rising carbon dioxide levels. While the asteroid which helped wipe out the dinosaurs blocked out 90% of the Sun’s rays, we would need to divert just 2-4%, it’s believed, to take the Earth back to its pre-industrial climate.
The precipitous drop in energy use is unparalleled back to the Great Depression of the 1930s. But not all energy sources are suffering equally. Efforts to shift toward renewable energy could be hastened, as fossil fuels, particularly coal and oil, have borne the brunt of the decline. Use of renewable energy meanwhile has risen, thanks to new projects coming online, and the low cost of turning wind turbines or harvesting sunlight.
Unusual atmospheric conditions, including freezing temperatures in the stratosphere, have led ozone levels to plummet—causing a ‘mini-hole’ in the ozone layer, the ESA said in a statement. While the ESA scientists expect it to close up later this month, it’s a troubling update on the planet’s environmental health.