Monday, 25 Oct, 2010 Environment

Space Tourism Could Worsen the Problem of Climate Change


Despite the fact that Virgin Galactic says that sending tourists into space does not negatively influence the environment, scientists studying climate change do not agree.

They say that soot particles that are emitted by rockets could remain in the Earth's atmosphere for years. These particles absorb sunlight that would otherwise hit the surface of our planet.

A layer of soot particles would lead to the cooling by 1.2 degrees Fahrenheit of the Earth's surface found under the layer. At the same time under the soot layer Antarctica would register an increase in temperature by 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

In addition, equatorial regions could lose 1 percent of their ozone, while the poles could have their ozone increased by 10 percent.

In the end there would be an increase in the level of solar power absorbed by the atmosphere. This means that the soot from rockets that send tourists into space contributes to atmospheric heating at a higher rate compared to CO2 emitted by these rockets, informs LiveScience.

Such conclusions are based on a rather large estimate of space tourism. The research on this topic was published in Geophysical Research Letters. If companies like Virgin take into account the current study they might consider working on the problem before space tourism industry registers a boom.

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