There is considerations around the world about how we can most easily and cheaply stabilize the climate. Some researchers recommend a very risky path.
The Paris Agreement was the global breakthrough in which the world agreed that there must be a limit to how much the temperature can rise. If it rises too much the living conditions will change dramatically, and in many places it will not be possible to adapt, with all the risks it entails in the form of people who will necessarily have to move.
That limit is a bit arbitrarily set at 2 degrees – well a fair value in light of the changes we have seen on the basis of just a single degree increase.
But it looks difficult. The reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that will be needed are getting bigger and bigger as the world is not able to reduce fast enough.
Logically, therefore, researchers – and politicians – are asking themselves the question, whether or not there is an easier solution? The answer lies in the notion that man in his omnipotence can artificially change basic climatic conditions – called geoengeneering. This is really what we have done in our emissions of too many greenhouse gases, so that the earth’s cooling is prevented by radiation. From there, it is not far to try to create an opposite effect by preventing sunlight from reaching the earth!
For a few decades after World War II, power plants emitted large amounts of sulfur into the atmosphere, causing cooling, as sulfur, in addition to creating acid rain, formed droplets of sulfuric acid in the atmosphere. These droplets are very effective at reflecting sunlight back into space, which is why there was less sunlight reaching down through the atmosphere.
Today, there are researchers who are looking at whether we can reuse that process to create a cooling. The answer is that it is certainly possible. It may not be sulfur to be used, but as I read in a newspaper the other day, lime dust is an option because the white dust will be able to reflect the sunlight. There will be no acid rain associated with this process, so why not just do it? Then we solve the climate problem with a snap and can continue to burn fossil fuels indefinitely!
But it will be a crime against future generations and must be prevented by all means!
Try to imagine that it was actually a possibility with that kind of geoengeneering. Then there are some questions that need to be answered.
Who should decide when to pour lime dust into the stratosphere, and who should decide where to do it?
In the best of all worlds, it could be a UN body. If that really happened, we have to realize that the reduction of sunlight should not be the same everywhere. Already here it looks very problematic to manage. Next, the particles will not remain in the atmosphere for all eternity, but will slowly fall to the ground, after which a new portion of particles must be sent up. This will mean that the effect on the climate will vary, as there will not be a constant amount of particles all the time, just as currents in the atmosphere will geographically create larger and smaller concentrations. Thus, the climate effect will constantly vary with the risk of large fluctuations, which many species will have difficulty adapting to.
But it will probably also mean that we do not continue the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, because “now we have found another solution”!
Logically, this will mean that we will have to keep sending particles into the atmosphere in larger and larger quantities, because if we do not, the temperature will rise dramatically because the greenhouse effect has increased significantly in the meantime. It will place a great deal of responsibility on future generations, and we cannot claim that our generation has solved the climate problem.
Furthermore, it is not far to imagine this process used in conflicts between nations, where one party can manipulate the climate of the other.
Geoengeneering can thus become a weapon and a disgusting one of its kind in the wrong hands.
So from my point of view, this road is a very dangerous road to walk. We must solve the climate problem at the root of evil, and continue to reduce the emission of the dangerous greenhouse gasses.