The task looks impossible, like in those, often low-budget, films where natural catastrophes may only be averted by undertaking unusual, if not unthinkable, solutions. But there we are. The White House is cautiously opening the door to studies that should attempt to figure out how to block or screen the rays of our Sun to counteract the impacts of climate change, according to a piece on the Politico website. This issue has been brought on by pollution of all types and misuse of the planet’s resources, which more frequently results in extreme weather conditions, such as droughts and floods, which cause unimaginable economic losses and damages, not to mention increased desertification and starvation in some parts of the world.
Modifying solar radiation is a rather contentious proposal that might help combat global warming, but experts warn that there are still unknown and probably unpredictable implications from such a move. The risks may include altering the chemical composition of the atmosphere with unforeseeable consequences. There are hazards connected to any adjustment of solar radiation, and these risks can have an impact on geopolitics, biodiversity, and human health. Thus decisions about the potential risks and benefits as a component of climate change policy should be made more intelligently with the help of an international research program into the scientific and societal implications of modifying solar radiation.
Congress, however, in a 44-page evaluation report makes it clear that no political decision has been made regarding a procedure for altering solar radiation that is occasionally referred to as geoengineering. According to the report consulted by Politico, a research program on the scientific and societal implications of solar radiation modification (SRM) would enable more informed decisions about the potential risks and benefits of SRM as a component of climate policy, along with the fundamental elements of GHG emissions mitigation and adaptation. The truth is that SRM has the potential to dramatically chill the earth within a few-year time frame.
Politico notes that the concept has naturally given rise to opposing viewpoints. On the one hand, some believe that the solar shield could be a last resort against uncontrolled warming if nations fail to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in a situation similar to one of the recent months, in which Germany has modified the climate law to quell public unrest and the European continent has warmed up twice as much as other continents. The action might even have the reverse result for certain people. Others, however, caution that it might lead to a dependence on the atmosphere, which, if halted, might result in rapid temperature rises.
However, how are the radiation shields should be made? There is the concept of increasing the number of aerosols in the stratosphere, as happens after a significant volcanic eruption, to reflect the sun’s rays away from the Earth. Increasing the number of clouds over the oceans or decreasing the number of cirrus clouds at high altitudes, which reflect radiation, are further options. The research stated that if greenhouse gas concentrations grow and warming increases, climate change will have even more drastic repercussions on the physical and ecological environment as well as on human well-being.
Understanding these effects is essential to making well-informed decisions on SRM’s potential contribution to easing the suffering caused by climate change. But the US does not want to consider it alone. The US government states that adequate international cooperation should be used in any prospective research into solar radiation manipulation. Additionally, there is a desire from the Europe Union to launch international negotiations on whether and how humanity might stop our star from warming. In a statement, the EU affirms that guided by the precautionary principle, the EU will support international efforts to thoroughly assess the risks and uncertainties of climate action, including the modification of solar radiation, and will promote discussions on a possible international framework for its governance, including aspects relating to research.
All good. The important thing is that all this is not yet another excuse not to stop polluting and poisoning water, the earth, and the sky.