Climate change is now having unprecedented effects on the environment, with the hottest June on record globally, becoming the 14th consecutive month to break its temperature record.
While the need to mitigate carbon emissions remains paramount, a recent event at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, called “Forbidden Research”, has put forward the case for bioengineering, the controversial large-scale manipulation of the world’s climate system, which aims to alleviate the effects of climate change.
Geoengineering strategies, such as the purposeful increase of aerosols to decrease solar radiation – or “albedo modification” – are often put in the “too dangerous” bag, due to a lack of research on the risks of interfering with complex systems, and the fact that it addresses symptoms of climate change without looking to the cause.
But, according to Harvard professor in applied physics David Keith, it may now be a necessity.
He says that if we were to stop polluting tomorrow, the planet’s temperature would rise, as the short-term cooling effects of aerosols in fossil fuel emissions would also be lost. This risks setting off positive climate feedback loops.
While he agrees that carbon emissions must be reduced to combat global warming, and that ways to do this should receive most resources, he argues that solar geoengineering may be a necessary complement that demands much more research.
“It partially, imperfectly, deals with the risks of the CO2 we’ve emitted over history.
“it is a complement to cutting emissions.”
What do you think?