Climate change: US President has risks of geoengineering researched

The worse the consequences of climate change, the louder the calls for geoengineering are likely to get. The White House is now conducting research into this.

(Image: Eli Mordechai/Shutterstock.com)

The White House is investigating whether geoengineering could at least temporarily limit global warming and what risks the technology entails. This is reported by the US news portal CNBC, citing the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), which is responsible for research and technology policy at the US President.

The basis is the mandate of the US Congress to develop a five-year plan for the scientific evaluation of rapid climate interventions. The aim is to summarize which goals geoengineering research should pursue, which technology is required, how it should be coordinated, and what consequences the implementation would have for the earth’s atmosphere.

The topic of geoengineering has thus arrived at the highest level of US politics. In recent years, proposals in this regard have always been put forward as comparatively cheap measures in the fight against climate change. In various ways, either more sunlight is reflected or more heat is conducted from the atmosphere in order to at least temporarily lower average global temperatures.

Most of these are plans to reflect sunlight with masses of microscopic particles released into the atmosphere. Alternatively, cloud formation could be influenced in such a way that less sunlight can reach the earth’s surface or more heat can leave the atmosphere.

The US government now wants to research whether and how this can help in the fight against climate catastrophe. Recently there had been researching work on this and, above all, warnings. Above all, it is regularly pointed out that the proposals, some of which cost a few billion US dollars, are comparatively cheap and could tempt national economies to drive forward the reduction of greenhouse gases less energetically. Since carbon dioxide, the most important greenhouse gas, would continue to accumulate in the atmosphere even during the implementation of geoengineering, global temperatures could then suddenly rise sharply if such measures were to end.

But CNBC now points to an argument in favor of geoengineering: Mankind is already doing it by burning fossil fuels, but unchecked. In this way, the same sulfur dioxide would be emitted into the atmosphere in large quantities, which is also the basis for many geoengineering plans. With the move away from fossil fuels, humanity is currently reducing the reflective particles in the atmosphere, environmental law expert Edward Parson explains to the US portal. Smoke from factory chimneys reduces global warming, but so far in the “dirtiest and most haphazard” way, as Kelly Wanser puts it, who campaigns for climate interventions.

Two experts cited in the report believe it is almost certain that geoengineering will be implemented at least by individual nations in the coming decades given the catastrophic consequences of global warming. Therefore, research into the measures is important in order to then at least be able to help. Geoengineering is “quick, cheap, and imperfect,” says Parson. Climate technology investment banker Chris Sacca says the world will not stand still when millions die from extreme weather events. Research now being done on it is our only hope.

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