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LEAD: It would be the largest engineering project ever. Researchers are considering ways to actively cool the planet in case global warming gets out of control.
Randy Atkins: Most scientists say reducing carbon emissions is the best way for humans to put the brakes on rising global temperatures. Doug MacMartin, a Cornell University engineer, agrees…but he’s working on an emergency cooling plan.
Doug MacMartin: By reflecting sunlight away.
Randy Atkins: MacMartin is trying to engineer a way to put very tiny reflective particles high into the atmosphere, above where planes fly.
Doug MacMartin: And that would reflect a tiny amount of the Sun’s light and cool the planet a little bit and potentially reduce some of the impacts of climate change.
Randy Atkins: But the technological hurdles are difficult.
Doug MacMartin: We do not have any aircraft that could deliver a payload high enough in the atmosphere right now.
Randy Atkins: …and the impacts are uncertain…so MacMartin argues we need to begin this research now. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.