Key Climate Questions #3: Would geoengineering work?

by Milan on October 26, 2011

in Climate change, Climate science

Despite the strong consensus that human beings are dangerously altering the climate, there are many important scientific questions about climate change that remain unanswered, or where additional research would be valuable. Improved scientific understanding of these questions can help guide appropriate policy-making. This series of posts identifies what some of these questions are and provides information on the scientific work that has been done on them so far.

One possible way to deal with climate change is to intentionally manipulate the climate system to offset the warming that is resulting from human emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). This concept is called ‘geoengineering‘.

Ideas include putting aerosols into the upper atmosphere that will reflect away sunlight and cool the planet. Alternatives include removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and burying it underground.

Nobody is entirely sure whether such approaches can successfully counteract the warming effect of GHGs. It is also unclear how much geoengineering would cost, and what side effects it would produce.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

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. August 26, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Nature Climate Change | Perspective
Deliberating stratospheric aerosols for climate geoengineering and the SPICE project

Increasing concerns about the narrowing window for averting dangerous climate change have prompted calls for research into geoengineering, alongside dialogue with the public regarding this as a possible response. We report results of the first public engagement study to explore the ethics and acceptability of stratospheric aerosol technology and a proposed field trial (the Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering (SPICE) ‘pipe and balloon’ test bed) of components for an aerosol deployment mechanism. Although almost all of our participants were willing to allow the field trial to proceed, very few were comfortable with using stratospheric aerosols. This Perspective also discusses how these findings were used in a responsible innovation process for the SPICE project initiated by the UK’s research councils.

Aksay December 1, 2015 at 1:15 pm

This is perhaps the eaiesst of your blog posts to agree with yet. I think that geo-engineering is likely dangerous and unnecessary now. Really, nothing needs to be done other than to study the climate and adapt to changes along with avoiding despoiling things. IF the situation ever becomes apocalyptic (as Gore and Hansen and other profiteers and insane loons), then geo-engineering might be justified. The really insane meme that the IPCC, the Gores, etc have injected into the public consciousness is that any climate change is not only bad, but evil, morally reprehensible, to be fought regardless of the costs—ie a holy war.Well, any rational person knows that the climate constantly changes due to many, many causes, both natural and human. The trick is to determine just how harmful the change is, not to STOP any change, which, in any case, is impossible. The general attitude reminds me of an episode when my son was around4 years old. The sun was shining brightly in his eyes, so he told my wife to turn off the sun. These people want to turn off the climate.

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