In the race to control climate change, global scientists are pointing to the concept of Geoengineering as a legitimate hope. However, public and political objections hinder the effort.
This article is based on technology and science postings, and related media reports. All linked information within this article is fully-attributed to the following outlets: USGS.gov, Wikipedia.org, Space.com, Pew Research Center, Rutgers University, and Wageningen University.
There has perhaps been no greater consistent global concern over the last several decades than that of global warming. As the term is frequently used interchangeably with climate change, the U.S Geological Survey (USGS) posted an article to distinguish between the two related matters.
In its piece entitled “What is the Difference Between Global Warming and Climate Change?” the USGS states: Although people tend to use these terms interchangeably, global warming is just one aspect of climate change. “Global warming” refers to the rise in global temperatures due mainly to the increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. “Climate change” refers to the increasing changes in the measures of climate over a long period of time – including precipitation, temperature, and wind patterns.
Geoengineering is a field of study garnering increasing attention of late as a potential defense against climate change. The subject’s Wikipedia page defines the process: Climate engineering, or commonly geoengineering, is deliberate and large-scale intervention in the Earth's cimate system. The main category of climate engineering is solar geoengineering or solar radiation management. Solar geoengineering, or solar radiation modification, would reflect some sunlight (solar radiation) back to space to limit or reverse human-caused climate change.
Let us explore further.
Geoengineering Status, 2022
In her article for Space.com published in February, 2022, titled “Space Geoengineering: Can We Control the Weather?” writer Alisa Harvey delved into further detail on this burgeoning field of study: As modern technology advances and our understanding of meteorological processes grows, scientists are discovering new ways to control the weather. Instead of succumbing to nature's schedule, projects are in place to make the skies rain, remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and prevent extreme weather events such as hurricanes and flooding. The reasons for weather manipulation can vary from the convenient to the essential. Geoengineering is the term used to describe the manipulation of weather to combat the effects of global warming. These methods are generally split into two categories– carbon dioxide removal and solar geoengineering.
Though scientists appear to largely agree that the concept of Geoengineering is a wholly legitimate defense against climate change, both public and political pressures are presently obstacles that must be continually surmounted and further, too many risks remain.
See June, 2021 Pew Research survey here, titled “U.S. Adults Have Mixed Views on Whether Geoengineering Would Help Reduce Effects of Climate Change.”
From the article: No more than half of U.S. adults say they think two geoengineering techniques – solar geoengineering and cloud seeding – would make a difference in reducing the effects of climate change, and most are worried about unintended consequences from these approaches, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.
Potential issues as discussed by scientists, which has bled into both the political and public sectors, are explored in this report from Rutgers University, titled “20 Reasons Why Geoengineering May Be a Bad Idea.” As elaborated upon in the report: If humans adopted geoengineering as a solution to global warming, with no restriction on continued carbon emis- sions, the ocean would continue to be- come more acidic, because about half of all excess carbon dioxide in the atmo- sphere is removed by ocean uptake. The ocean is already 30 percent more acidic than it was before the Industrial Revolu- tion, and continued acidification threat- ens the entire oceanic biological chain, from coral reefs right up to humans.
Other issues mentioned include the possibility of ozone depletion, continued ocean acidification, and less sun for solar power, among others.
For an article regarding political perspectives on the controversy, see here for Wageningen University’s “The Emerging Politics of Geoengineering,” which references the above matters.
Any reliance on Geoengineering for now and in the future will be factored on how many of those aforementioned potential issues will be addressed with a substantial degree of clarity, and comfort in the effort.
Until then, though the tool is utilized it is not effectuated to its potential.
Thank you for reading.