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Geoengineering: not so much of a fix it all

Geoengineering has gained momentum recently in both the technological and scientific fields. Climate geoengineering is the process of artificially interfering with the climate to temporarily prevent the effects of climate change from happening. The White House is currently looking to research this sci-fi-like technology, and while in theory geoengineering sounds promising, some scientists are skeptical about its results.

There are three main types of geoengineering: solar radiation management (SRM), carbon dioxide removal (CDR), and earth radiation management (ERM). SRM is used to reflect solar energy into space to cool the planet. CDR is the process of removing carbon from the atmosphere and oceans as opposed to from fossil fuel plants like carbon capture. Finally, ERM is a way to allow heat to escape back into space by processes like thinning cirrus clouds.

However, scientists are somewhat reluctant to continue their research regarding geoengineering due to the lack of knowledge regarding its risks. For instance, some research has shown that SRM itself can cause an alteration in global weather patterns like monsoon activity, leading to greater problems down the lane. Previous attempts at researching SRM have been opposed and halted by environmentalists and Indigenous leaders due to its tampering with the natural weather cycle.

There is a new startup that is using geoengineering technology to deliberately modify the weather. The launch of this startup has been met with much criticism since it is commercializing geoengineering with a lack of research and expertise about it. However, the CEO of the company, Luke Iseman, believes that by starting this project more research regarding geoengineering will ensue.

“It’s morally wrong, in my opinion, for us not to be doing this, [what’s important is] to do this as quickly and safely as we can,” Iseman told MIT Technology Review in a recent interview.

Since geoengineering is such a controversial technology, more research definitely needs to be done to know if it is safe or not. With the increasing threat of global warming, it is vital we investigate any options available.

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