Should We Meddle with Mother Nature to Mitigate Climate Change?
By John Donvan/
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
If climate change concerns you, the debate we're putting on tomorrow night will be right on point. It's packed with questions of science, ethics, politics, and power — and all hinging on a technology-centered solution you may or may not have heard of, but is close to being real. It's called "solar radiation modification," and it has sharply divided experts in the field, four of whom will be on our stage.
Here's the concept: To keep the earth from getting too hot, impede the heat source. Which is? Yes, the sun. And that's right, scientists are right now working on ways to block sunlight, something that happens naturally when volcanoes blow a bunch of dust into the atmosphere. Inspired by nature's example, they're talking about spraying the upper atmosphere with aerosols to get the same effect (among other methods).
Will it work? And if it does, would that be a good thing? Questions would remain: Who gets to be in charge of the effort? How long is it supposed to continue? Forever? What about unintended consequences, especially for the world's poor?
That is some of the ground we will be covering in tomorrow's debate: Engineering Solar Radiation Is a Crazy Idea.