Rolling Stone: The Climate Debates: How Dangerous Is Solar Geoengineering?

More and more people have come to understand the urgency of the climate crisis in recent years, and Americans have elected a president in Joe Biden who has pledged to make addressing climate the centerpiece of his administration, but there is much debate about exactly how we should go about confronting our collective climate challenge. Choices we make today will echo for generations into the future.

In the run-up to Earth Day, Rolling Stone held a series of three debates, each focusing on a different contentious climate solution: solar geoengineering, carbon removal, and how quickly we can and should stop using natural gas.

Geoengineering may be the biggest, most controversial idea that scientists and engineers have cooked up since the nuclear bomb. In this debate, we focus on solar engineering, technology that would cool the planet’s temperature by spraying particles into the stratosphere to reflect away a fraction of the sunlight that is hitting the Earth. Building a sun shade for the planet is one way to think about it.

We discuss some of the central issues: Is the climate crisis so far gone that we need to consider risky ideas like solar engineering? Is solar engineering a hubristic dream of techno-elitists or the best tool we have to reduce the impacts of a warming climate for millions of people in the developing world? Who would be the winners and losers in a geoengineered world?

Joining Rolling Stone for the debate are David Keith and Alex Steffen. Keith has been thinking about and researching geoengineering for as long as anyone (I first met him while reporting my 2011 book How to Cool the Planet). He is a professor of applied physics at Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, as well as a professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. In 2013, he wrote A Case for Climate Engineering, which is a nuts-and bolts tour of the potential risks and benefits of geoengineering. You can follow his work on Twitter @DKeithClimate.

Alex Steffen is an award-winning writer and futurist who has spent the last 30 years or so exploring the growing planetary crisis and what lies ahead for humanity. Steffen’s books include WorldchangingCarbon Zero and the forthcoming The Snap Forward: Climate Leadership in the Real World. You can follow his work on Twitter @alexsteffen.

Watch the debate on carbon removal, featuring Julio Friedmann and Elizabeth Yeampierre, here. Watch the debate on natural gas, featuring Julian Brave NoiseCat and Arvind Ravikumar, here.

Original post on Rolling Stone

SCoPEx, Harvard University: New Frontiers in Climate Change Research

SCoPEx is a scientific experiment to advance understanding of stratospheric aerosols that could be relevant to solar geoengineering. It aims to improve the fidelity of simulations (computer models) of solar geoengineering by providing modellers with experimental results vital to addressing specific science questions. Such simulations are the primary tool for estimating the risks and benefits of solar geoengineering, but current limitations may make the simulations look too good. SCoPEx will make quantitative measurements of aspects of the aerosol microphysics and atmospheric chemistry that are currently highly uncertain in the simulations. It is not a test of solar geoengineering per se. Instead, it will observe how particles interact with one another, with the background stratospheric air, and with solar and infrared radiation. Improved understanding of these processes will help answer applied questions such as, is it possible to find aerosols that can reduce or eliminate ozone loss, without increasing other physical risks?

Harvard Museum of Natural History: The Peril and Promise of Solar Geoengineering

Free Public Lecture by David Keith, Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University

Solar geoengineering research aims to reduce the impacts of global climate change. One possibility is to put aerosols into the stratosphere to alter Earth’s energy budget. This emerging technology entails risks and uncertainties, along with serious challenges to global governance. The greatest threat, perhaps, is that it will be used as a technical fix and encourage people to avoid the emissions cuts that are fundamental to curbing long-term climate risks. David Keith described the simple physics underlying the climate’s response to stratospheric aerosols, the risks, and the trade-offs among solar geoengineering, carbon removal, and emissions reductions.

How to make transportation carbon neutral?

World’s Top 50 Innovators 2019 Royal Society, 23-25 September Future of Mobility Session David Keith, Founder, Carbon Engineering

!Q-Squared AKA Open to Debate

Geoengineering is an ambitious set of experiments proposed by scientists to help mitigate the effects of climate change. And one type in particular, called solar geoengineering, has been the subject of debate. This process involves, among other techniques, injecting reflective particles into the stratosphere to reduce the amount of sun and heat that reaches the planet. The goal? To decrease global temperatures. Proponents argue this process would be inexpensive and effective. Plus, they say, it could limit changes in glacier melt and lessen the intensity of tropical storms. But challengers argue these techniques do not address the underlying issues of climate change, and they worry that solar geoengineering could alter weather systems or possibly even cool the planet too much. They also point to governance issues: Any country could engage these strategies, triggering the possibility of unintended consequences that could affect us all. Is solar geoengineering a radical idea? Or is it likely to emerge as an important, supplemental tool in the fight against climate change?

Watch Here

PBS: Scientists explore ‘far out’ ways to reduce atmospheric CO₂

The U.S. government estimates that the consequences of climate change are already costing the country hundreds of billions of dollars. But even if we stopped using fossil fuels immediately, the globe would continue to warm due to an existing buildup of carbon dioxide. Miles O’Brien reports on how some scientists are now exploring unorthodox means of actually removing the gas from our atmosphere.

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HUC Environment: Counter geoengineering

The U.S. government estimates that the consequences of climate change are already costing the country hundreds of billions of dollars. But even if we stopped using fossil fuels immediately, the globe would continue to warm due to an existing buildup of carbon dioxide. Miles O’Brien reports on how some scientists are now exploring unorthodox means of actually removing the gas from our atmosphere.

New York Times: Idea Lab

The Economist: The climate-change experiment

What if you discovered a way to cool down the planet? Extreme weather events are becoming more common and more ferocious. As the surface temperature of earth continues to rise, so too will the ferocity of natural disasters. In 2018 scientists will take bold steps to explore a technology that could reverse the effects of climate-change. They’re looking at ways to reflect sunlight back into space and cool down the planet. Insurers say the number of weather-related disasters has quadrupled since 1970. While world leaders are debating and disputing climate-change and the ways in which humans alter their behaviour on earth, some scientists discuss changes to the earth itself. In 2018, they’ll take to the stratosphere to learn what it might take – or cost – to cool the planet directly. Geoengineering is the pioneering science that could well be on everyone’s lips in 2018. The team from Harvard University is the first in the world to test the effects solar geoengineering might have in the stratosphere. The experiments in 2018 won’t impact the climate, but if one day implemented, this controversial intervention could help curb extreme weather events. Solar geoengineering has the potential to save lives, but it also poses unknown risks. And there are fears that merely researching geoengineering might be detrimental to the long-term fight against climate-change. Some environmentalists say that the drive to reduce carbon dioxide emissions could be lost if there’s seen to be a quick fix. And deciding who controls a technology that affects everyone on the planet won’t be easy. Ultimately solar geoengineering could prove a risk not worth taking. But ignoring it now could be even more dangerous.