Geoengineering to Combat Climate Change


There is an interesting school of thought that geoengineering – processes designed to reengineer the climate itself – could be an effective means to counteract climate change.  For example, using “cloud seeding” techniques to create thinner clouds that dissipate faster, thereby allowing more heat-producing radiation into space so that less is trapped in the atmosphere.

Although on the surface (pun intended) this sounds promising, no one knows what the potential side effects of these types of strategies might be.  This is why the notion of geoengineering has not really been tested despite being conceptualized over 10 years ago.  However, thanks to increasingly dire predictions, the scientific community is finally ready to conduct experiments to test the viability of the idea.  Check out this incredibly in-depth article for a primer on some of the techniques under consideration.

The Ying and Yang of Geoengineering

I think it’s safe to say that geoengineering is risky, but doing nothing also has risks.  The problem is that the risks have not been quantified, much less identified.  With so many unknowns, who do we entrust to decide when it is time to give geoengineering the green light?  At the same time, the longer we wait to take action, the more difficult it will be to reverse the warming trend.

Personally, I am on the fence.  I have written ad nauseum about the downside of climate change from a weather severity and service outage point of view, but do we really want to tinker with the forces of nature?  Do we really want to have a small group of scientists play God?  My gut reaction is that we as a society are not yet ready to take this leap.  Geoengineering might be our planet’s saving grace, or it might lead to its metaphorical destruction, but until we are closer to hitting rock bottom, I think it is probably too early to roll the dice.

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