Cancun Climate Talks Open With Space-Age Solutions

The expectations for any sort of meaningful result from the Cancun Climate Change Conference are low, but that doesn't stop talk of some high-flying measures. Really high-flying - like in space.

United Nation scientists are looking at what they call "geo-engineering" options to reverse global warming. That could include putting mirrors in space to reflect sunlight or sprinkling iron in the oceans to fertilize algae and suck up CO2, according to reports in The Telegraph.. It sounds pretty futuristic, but that might be what it takes to combat the possibility of what one scientist called "catastrophic warming within the next 50 years."

Worst-case scenario studies, released Sunday, say world temperatures could climb 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit by 2060, and result in an annual investment of billions of dollars to contain rising sea levels.

The goal of the conference, which representatives of some 190 countries are attending under heavy security, is to reach agreements that lead to significant investment for developing nations and green technology that helps shift away from fossil fuels. The 12-day session concludes Dec. 10. Here is a link to the conference Web site.

It didn't take long for the first fissures to appear. African nations are taking a hard stance against the European Union because they believe the more developed nations are too wishy-washy when it comes to climate change. Meanwhile, the U.S. and China are taking fire because they can't or won't commit to legally binding targets on cutting carbon, according to reports.

So, it is up to other nations to take charge without the United States, scientists said, adding that the political situation in the U.S. prevents any kind of comprehensive program out of Washington, at least in the near term, although the government did say it will adhere to an earlier pledge to cut emissions 17% by 2020.

Meanwhile, The Associated Press lists some of the impacts of global warming in this story.