It sounded like a panacea for climate change: "geo-engineering" the atmosphere to block some sunlight and counter global warming. Now scientists scrutinizing the approach say it could produce dangerous cascade effects, severely disrupting weather and agriculture—and might fail to block the worst of the greenhouse effects anyway.
If you follow the news about health research, you risk whiplash. First garlic lowers bad cholesterol, then—after more study—it doesn't. Hormone replacement reduces the risk of heart disease in postmenopausal women, until a huge study finds that it doesn't (and that it raises the risk of breast cancer to boot). Eating a big breakfast cuts your total daily calories, or not—as a study released last week finds. Yet even if biomedical research can be a fickle guide, we rely on it.
There are countless unanswered questions about why Jared Loughner allegedly went on a shooting rampage, but of this we can be sure: across America there are thousands of parents of older adolescents and young adults who are terrified that their child's strange behavior, paranoid rants, drinking, drug abuse, conspiracy fantasies, and other red flags of mental illness will lead to violence.
It's probably not going out on a limb to say that John Boehner's waterworks—the man cries when his party wins control of the House, when he thinks about kids, when he walks down the House aisle to take the Speaker's gavel—are not meant to reduce sexual arousal in women.
To any woman having surgery for breast cancer, the words she most wants to hear in the recovery room are, "We got it all." But if she wants to find the surgeons who have the best track record on the most important measures, she might as well throw darts at a printout of oncologists.
Even before their midterm debacle, Democrats couldn't pass an energy-climate bill worth the name. Prospects for legislation to free the country from dependence on petro-dictators—and put it on a path to a renewable energy-based economy—would seem, therefore, about as likely as John Boehner introducing a $700 billion stimulus bill. So why are renewable-energy advocates smiling?
To those who are convinced that the science of global warming is sound, as well as to those on the fence, the refusal of climate scientists to attribute any single episode of extreme weather to greenhouse-induced climate change has been either exasperating … or suspicious.