The US should establish a multimillion-dollar research program on solar geoengineering, according to the country’s national science academy. The Guardian reports: In a report it recommends funding of $100 million to $200 million over five years to better understand the feasibility of interventions to dim the sun, the risk of harmful unintended consequences and how such technology could be governed in an ethical way. The National Academies of Sciences (NAS) said cutting fossil fuel emissions remained the most urgent and important action to tackle the climate crisis. But it said the worryingly slow progress on climate action meant all options needed to be understood.
The report considers three types of solar geoengineering to allow more heat to escape the Earth’s atmosphere: injecting tiny reflective particles into the stratosphere to block sunlight; using the particles to make low-lying clouds over the oceans more reflective; and thinning high-altitude cirrus clouds. Major volcanic eruptions are already known to cool the climate by pumping particles high into the atmosphere. […]
Proponents of geoengineering argue that impacts of global heating could be so great that every option to limit these must be explored. Opponents argue that such research increases the risk that such technologies could be deployed, perhaps by rogue states, instead of cutting emissions. Critics also warn that solar geoengineering could cause damage such as crop failures, and would need to be maintained to avoid a sudden hike in temperature, unless carbon emissions fall rapidly.
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