Unless your head is buried under a foot of sand or you are Donald J. Trump, you understand that climate change is a huge problem facing our world today. The most obvious approach to solving it is switching our current fossil-fuel energy sources to non-fossil fuel.
This is of course ideal, albeit problematic. In its entirety, if we are to be optimistic even, this would take many decades—maybe centuries. Moreover, after a direct halt of the use of fossil fuels, the carbon’s affects in the atmosphere will still be present perhaps even 10,000 years from now.
Scientists undoubtedly worry the logistics of this. Humanity won’t be able to reduce our fossil fuel in time to avoid suffering the worst ramifications of climate change.
Scientists have recently sprouted an alternative (or, rather, an additive): solar geoengineering.
The idea behind solar geoengineering is solely to increase the planet’s reflectivity of the sun waves that are dissipating from greenhouse gases—it is to devise a shield around the planet. This would allow us to reduce radical temperature fluxes, essentially lowering the overall temperature of the atmosphere and planet. This, of course, would affect climate-related death, detriments to agriculture, the flooding caused by the ocean’s expanse, just to name a few.
And it would cost 10 billion dollars. A lot, sure, but it is estimated that the total trickle-off from the use of fossil-fuel energy would cost tens of trillions of dollars for the U.S. alone. Not only that, but 10 billion is a mere 1/1000 of the gross domestic product of our country (the wealthiest nation in the history of the world).
Unfortunately but not surprisingly, Donald Trump has not put a thought (or a penny) into this research, despite environmental scientists worldwide unanimously supporting the development it.
Critics worry this is merely a supplement for reducing our use of worrisome greenhouse gases, which many countries have avoided implementing policy without an alternative. Most scientists, however, argue the case for both simultaneously.
There are also natural fears with an environmental research that affects every living thing on earth—the first of its kind. Who is to have the power to make the decisions of such a project? The questions are frightening innately, not to mention unanswered.
David Keith, the professor of applied physics and public policy or Harvard University, has chimed in:
“We need engineering and science, but unless its embedded in a larger universe that thinks about governance, thinks about business, thinks about ethics, even the way this fits in our environmental literature, we won’t be able to do something that really helps the world ultimately make decisions about it. We need a research program that thinks about how to reduce the technical risks by figuring out better science technology and how to build institutions that have a better chance of governing a technology like this in a divided world.”
Spring of 2017 launched the team initiating the basis of this research. The story of humanity’s battle to save the earth has just begun.
Featured image via Pixabay.