Advantages And Risks Of Solar Geoengineering

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The second volcanic eruption of the 20th century occurred in 1991 when mountain Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted. As its ash traveled through the atmosphere to the stratosphere, it spread a coating of aerosol particles around the entire world. For over two years, those aerosol particles created a kind of solar shield that reflected sunlight away from the globe and decreased global temperatures by half a degree celsius! It’s not the only large volcanic explosion to have lowered global temperatures in the last century, and scientists are now investigating if solar geoengineering technology may be used to reproduce this amazing phenomenon in order to combat global warming.

Advantages and risks of solar geoengineering

One thing that scientists all agree on is that solar geoengineering could cool the globe because reflecting the sun away from the earth prevents heat from being trapped in our atmosphere. This fact helps us comprehend the advantages and risks of solar geoengineering. By pumping aerosols into the stratosphere, similar to what volcanoes can do or installing reflective solar shields, we can do reduce global warming. However, in order to deploy these technologies and produce significant global cooling effects, we are going to interfere with our planet on a complex scale.

Some scientists support solar geoengineering primarily because we are currently on a terrifying trajectory as a result of our increasing emissions, particularly those of carbon dioxide. It is obvious that long-term emissions reduction is necessary, but even if we succeed in doing so, the risk to the climate would still exist due of accumulated emissions. Another problem is that because the entire climate system is interrelated, modifying the climate on a global scale is challenging. When we introduce new elements into the stratosphere or our atmosphere will change the pattern of precipitation around the world and these technological advancements could cause the climate system to react in unpredictable ways. This could exacerbate the extreme weather we already experience as a result of climate change.

Since the proposed solar geoengineering has a very short life span and we would need to deploy it continuously for centuries to continue having the cooling effect, deploying it on a full global scale could require global cooperation not only in terms of scale but also in terms of time. This would mean that we would be committed to having institutions and treaties for thousands of years, which would be a burden to put on future generations of humans.