Warming up to solar geoengineering

As countries struggle to meet ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions, financial backers and government officials are grappling with how to study ideas for engineering the Earth’s climate, my Axios colleagues Andrew Freedman and Alison Snyder write.

Why it matters: Once dismissed as science fiction, solar geoengineering is now viewed as a possible tool to help humans reduce the dangerous impacts of climate change on ecosystems and society. However, much remains to be learned about these schemes before they can be considered.

Driving the news: A report released Thursday by the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) details recommendations for conducting, funding and governing research on solar geoengineering.

  • The authors say most climate research resources should still be steered toward mitigation and adaptation, but they call for $100 million to $200 million to be devoted to studying solar geoengineering over the next five years.
  • The report’s authors also call for a comprehensive research program that would involve all federal agencies conducting climate research.
  • The research program would seek to answer not only if solar geoengineering programs can be feasibly deployed, but also address the thorny question of whether they should be once more is known about the technologies.

How it works: Solar geoengineering involves injecting aerosols into the stratosphere or brightening clouds over the world’s oceans with the aim of reflecting sunlight and lowering global temperatures.

Details: The NAS report recommends funding modeling, theory and governance of solar geoengineering over the next five years. It specifically cautions against a move to develop and deploy such technologies.

The pushback: Some of the opposition to geoengineering research stems from concerns that it could distract from efforts to rein in emissions.

The bottom line: “The underlying decision is, should humans do this or not?” Keith said. “Learn, then decide, is the right lesson from my point of view.”

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Πηγή: axios.com

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