The sun sets behind the Fairmont Hotel in Abu Dhabi, UAE, December 11, 2017 REUTERS/Matthew Childs     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A team of researchers from Harvard University plan to release a chalky material into the atmosphere to bounce the sun’s heat back into space. Reuters

Scientists aim to dim the sun to tackle climate change



Scientists are preparing to test a radical new way of tackling climate change by deliberately dimming the sun.

A team of researchers from Harvard University plans to release a balloon into the skies over the southwest United States in the new year.

Once it reaches an altitude of 20km, the balloon will release a chalky material to bounce the sun’s heat back into space.

Only a tiny amount of material will be released, and the effects will be limited to a few square kilometres. Even so, the experiment has reignited concern about such “geoengineering” solutions to tackling climate change.

The fear is that such schemes may have unintended consequences, solving one problem only to create many others.

Yet there is also mounting concern that time is running out to deal with climate change.

At the UN climate change conference in Poland last week, scientists insisted that CO2 emissions need to be slashed by almost 50 per cent in barely a decade to avert disastrous consequence.

Four former UN climate conference presidents went even further, declaring that decisive action is need in just two years.

Scientists have been issuing such dire warning for decades without any obvious effect. Despite repeated calls on governments to take action on CO2, emissions are expected to reach record levels this year.

Meanwhile, evidence of the need for action continues to mount: 17 of the 18 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001, with the last four being the warmest of all.

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The impact of the rise in global temperatures is also growing. According to the UN, the cost of climate-related disasters last year alone topped half a trillion US dollars.

In the face of such apocalyptic statistics, the reluctance of the major CO2 emitters – principally China, the US and India – to take action is prompting growing interest in radical measures.

And they don’t come much more radical than giving the Earth a sun-screen.

Scientists already know it can work, because Nature has done it countless times – via massive volcanic eruptions.

As recently as 1991, the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines injected around 20 million tonnes of sulphur dioxide gas in the stratosphere.

This bounced back so much of the sun’s light that the Earth’s average temperature dipped by 0.5°C for around 18 months.

Given the colossal size of the atmosphere, the effectiveness of this way of cooling the planet is astounding. In effect, adding barely one part per billion of reflective matter to the atmosphere cancelled out over a century’s worth of global warming.

But that also highlights a key concern about geoengineering: the risk of falling foul of the Butterfly Effect.

First coined by a climate researcher in the 1960s, this describes how the atmosphere has a way of amplifying even small tweaks – like the flap of a butterfly’s wing - into big consequences.

The Butterfly Effect is known to stalk attempts to tinker with the amount of sunlight reaching the earth’s surface. During the 1980s, average temperatures over mainland Europe started to rise far more rapidly than expected using global warming models.

Scientists traced the surge to – ironically enough – the clean air campaigns which forced factories to cut back on the amount of gunk they belched into the air.

This also cut the amount of light-reflecting gas and dust they emitted, thus allowing more of the sun’s heat through, triggering a jump in temperature.

That in turn highlights the other concern about geoengineering: its ability to trigger what the Germans call a schlimmbesserung: a "worse bettering", in which a supposed solution actually makes things worse.

Nature again provides worrying insights into some of the potential unintended consequences of dimming the sun. Following the Mt Pinatubo eruption, the darker skies led to cuts in the yields of crops such as rice, wheat and maize.

Some consequences are less obvious. The sulphur dioxide spewed out by the volcano cut visible light levels, but also boosted levels of harmful ultraviolet light  – because of its effect on the ozone layer, which normally protects us from this radiation.

The eruption may also have affected the behaviour of the jet stream – the fast-moving currents of air in the stratosphere which can unleash bizarre weather across entire continents.

The scientists behind the planned experiment are fully aware of these lessons from nature, and have taken every precaution to prevent nasty surprises.

The first tests will simply release ice into the stratosphere from the balloon, to check all the systems are working.

The team then plans to move to calcium carbonate dust, and possibly other materials to study their ability to bounce back sunlight.

The amounts involved are so small they will only affect the air around the balloon, and will vanish in a matter of hours.

But critics of the experiment fear the experiment will have a permanent impact, by legitimising geoengineering in the minds of politicians.

The attraction of this remedy for global warming has been boosted by a recent UN report suggesting that deliberate solar dimming could cut global temperatures by 1.5°C for as little as USD 1 billion a year.

The prospect of a cheap and quick remedy to the impact of CO2 on global warming  is likely to be hard for politicians to resist.

Yet the very success of solar dimming could lead to perhaps the most disastrous unintended consequence of all – by convincing politicians they need do nothing about CO2 levels.

While their effect on global warming might be reduced, ever-greater levels of CO2 would end up in the world’s oceans, making them increasingly acidic – with as yet unknown consequences.

In the end, the only way to find out the truth is via carefully planned scientific experiments. On the face of it, that is exactly what the Harvard team is planning.  And it's far preferable to politicians suddenly waking up to the threat and demanding an instant fix which proves anything but.
 
Robert Matthews is Visiting Professor of Science at Aston University, Birmingham, UK

Brahmastra: Part One - Shiva

Director: Ayan Mukerji

Stars: Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Amitabh Bachchan

Rating: 2/5

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE. 

Read part four: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part three: the age of the electric vehicle begins

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Nomad Homes
Started: 2020
Founders: Helen Chen, Damien Drap, and Dan Piehler
Based: UAE and Europe
Industry: PropTech
Funds raised so far: $44m
Investors: Acrew Capital, 01 Advisors, HighSage Ventures, Abstract Ventures, Partech, Precursor Ventures, Potluck Ventures, Knollwood and several undisclosed hedge funds

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

UAE rugby in numbers

5 - Year sponsorship deal between Hesco and Jebel Ali Dragons

700 - Dubai Hurricanes had more than 700 playing members last season between their mini and youth, men's and women's teams

Dh600,000 - Dubai Exiles' budget for pitch and court hire next season, for their rugby, netball and cricket teams

Dh1.8m - Dubai Hurricanes' overall budget for next season

Dh2.8m - Dubai Exiles’ overall budget for next season

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

'Young girls thinking of big ideas'

Words come easy for aspiring writer Afra Al Muhairb. The business side of books, on the other hand, is entirely foreign to the 16-year-old Emirati. So, she followed her father’s advice and enroled in the Abu Dhabi Education Council’s summer entrepreneurship course at Abu Dhabi University hoping to pick up a few new skills.

“Most of us have this dream of opening a business,” said Afra, referring to her peers are “young girls thinking of big ideas.”

In the three-week class, pupils are challenged to come up with a business and develop an operational and marketing plan to support their idea. But, the learning goes far beyond sales and branding, said teacher Sonia Elhaj.

“It’s not only about starting up a business, it’s all the meta skills that goes with it -- building self confidence, communication,” said Ms Elhaj. “It’s a way to coach them and to harness ideas and to allow them to be creative. They are really hungry to do this and be heard. They are so happy to be actually doing something, to be engaged in creating something new, not only sitting and listening and getting new information and new knowledge. Now they are applying that knowledge.”

Afra’s team decided to focus their business idea on a restaurant modelled after the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Each level would have a different international cuisine and all the meat would be halal. The pupils thought of this after discussing a common problem they face when travelling abroad.

“Sometimes we find the struggle of finding halal food, so we just eat fish and cheese, so it’s hard for us to spend 20 days with fish and cheese,” said Afra. “So we made this tower so every person who comes – from Africa, from America – they will find the right food to eat.”

rpennington@thenational.ae

THE BIO

Age: 33

Favourite quote: “If you’re going through hell, keep going” Winston Churchill

Favourite breed of dog: All of them. I can’t possibly pick a favourite.

Favourite place in the UAE: The Stray Dogs Centre in Umm Al Quwain. It sounds predictable, but it honestly is my favourite place to spend time. Surrounded by hundreds of dogs that love you - what could possibly be better than that?

Favourite colour: All the colours that dogs come in

'Texas Chainsaw Massacre'

Rating: 1 out of 4

Running time: 81 minutes

Director: David Blue Garcia

Starring: Sarah Yarkin, Elsie Fisher, Mark Burnham

SPEC SHEET: APPLE IPHONE 15 PRO MAX

Display: 6.7" Super Retina XDR OLED, 2796 x 1290, 460ppi, 120Hz, 2000 nits max, HDR, True Tone, P3, always-on

Processor: A17 Pro, 6-core CPU, 6-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine

Memory: 8GB

Capacity: 256/512GB / 1TB

Platform: iOS 17

Main camera: Triple: 48MP main (f/1.78) + 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.2) + 12MP 5x telephoto (f/2.8); 5x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out; 10x optical zoom range, digital zoom up to 25x; Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4, Portrait Lighting

Main camera video: 4K @ 24/25/30/60fps, full-HD @ 25/30/60fps, HD @ 30fps, slo-mo @ 120/240fps, ProRes (4K) @ 60fps; night, time lapse, cinematic, action modes; Dolby Vision, 4K HDR

Front camera: 12MP TrueDepth (f/1.9), Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4, Portrait Lighting; Animoji, Memoji

Front camera video: 4K @ 24/25/30/60fps, full-HD @ 25/30/60fps, slo-mo @ 120/240fps, ProRes (4K) @ 30fps; night, time lapse, cinematic, action modes; Dolby Vision, 4K HDR

Battery: 4441mAh, up to 29h video, 25h streaming video, 95h audio; fast charge to 50% in 30min (with at least 20W adaptor); MagSafe, Qi wireless charging

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Apple Pay), second-generation Ultra Wideband chip

Biometrics: Face ID

I/O: USB-C

Durability: IP68, water-resistant up to 6m up to 30min; dust/splash-resistant

Cards: Dual eSIM / eSIM + eSIM (US models use eSIMs only)

Colours: Black titanium, blue titanium, natural titanium, white titanium

In the box: iPhone 15 Pro Max, USB-C-to-USB-C woven cable, one Apple sticker

Price: Dh5,099 / Dh5,949 / Dh6,799

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

Ahmed Raza

UAE cricket captain

Age: 31

Born: Sharjah

Role: Left-arm spinner

One-day internationals: 31 matches, 35 wickets, average 31.4, economy rate 3.95

T20 internationals: 41 matches, 29 wickets, average 30.3, economy rate 6.28

Fitness problems in men's tennis

Andy Murray - hip

Novak Djokovic - elbow

Roger Federer - back

Stan Wawrinka - knee

Kei Nishikori - wrist

Marin Cilic - adductor

Our legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

In-demand jobs and monthly salaries
  • Technology expert in robotics and automation: Dh20,000 to Dh40,000 
  • Energy engineer: Dh25,000 to Dh30,000 
  • Production engineer: Dh30,000 to Dh40,000 
  • Data-driven supply chain management professional: Dh30,000 to Dh50,000 
  • HR leader: Dh40,000 to Dh60,000 
  • Engineering leader: Dh30,000 to Dh55,000 
  • Project manager: Dh55,000 to Dh65,000 
  • Senior reservoir engineer: Dh40,000 to Dh55,000 
  • Senior drilling engineer: Dh38,000 to Dh46,000 
  • Senior process engineer: Dh28,000 to Dh38,000 
  • Senior maintenance engineer: Dh22,000 to Dh34,000 
  • Field engineer: Dh6,500 to Dh7,500
  • Field supervisor: Dh9,000 to Dh12,000
  • Field operator: Dh5,000 to Dh7,000
if you go

The flights
Emirates flies to Delhi with fares starting from around Dh760 return, while Etihad fares cost about Dh783 return. From Delhi, there are connecting flights to Lucknow. 
Where to stay
It is advisable to stay in Lucknow and make a day trip to Kannauj. A stay at the Lebua Lucknow hotel, a traditional Lucknowi mansion, is recommended. Prices start from Dh300 per night (excluding taxes). 

Results

5.30pm: Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (Dirt) 1,600m, Winner: Panadol, Mickael Barzalona (jockey), Salem bin Ghadayer (trainer)

6.05pm: Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (Turf) 1,400m, Winner: Mayehaab, Adrie de Vries, Fawzi Nass

6.40pm: Handicap (TB) Dh85,000 (D) 1,600m, Winner: Monoski, Mickael Barzalona, Salem bin Ghadayer

7.15pm: Handicap (TB) Dh102,500 (T) 1,800m, Winner: Eastern World, Royston Ffrench, Charlie Appleby

7.50pm: Handicap (TB) Dh92,500 (D) 1,200m, Winner: Madkal, Adrie de Vries, Fawzi Nass

8.25pm: Handicap (TB) Dh92,500 (T) 1,200m, Winner: Taneen, Dane O’Neill, Musabah Al Muhairi

The specs: 2019 Haval H6

Price, base: Dh69,900

Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder

Transmission: Seven-speed automatic

Power: 197hp @ 5,500rpm

Torque: 315Nm @ 2,000rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 7.0L / 100km

Our legal columnist

Name: Yousef Al Bahar

Advocate at Al Bahar & Associate Advocates and Legal Consultants, established in 1994

Education: Mr Al Bahar was born in 1979 and graduated in 2008 from the Judicial Institute. He took after his father, who was one of the first Emirati lawyers


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