an airplane and unmanned ship generating clouds that will reflect sunlight away from the earth
Image 1: An artistic illustration of geoengineering in which an airplane and unmanned ship generating clouds that will reflect sunlight away from the earth.

Geoengineering is an intentional, large-scale intervention in the Earth’s natural processes to prevent the effects of climate change. This entails using physical methods to alter the global climate to chill the globe. Solar radiation control, carbon dioxide removal, and weather manipulation are the three main categories of these methods.

Large-scale interventions may have a higher risk of altering natural systems, posing the conundrum that techniques that may be extremely cost-effective in mitigating extreme climate risk may also pose a significant risk. Some argue that the notion of geoengineering will diminish political and public pressure to reduce emissions, worsening overall climate risks; others argue that the fear of climate engineering will encourage emissions reductions.

What is Geoengineering?

Geoengineering, also known as climate engineering, is the purposeful manipulation of the Earth’s climate system to reverse climate change’s effects on a large scale. This involves using physical methods to alter the global climate to reduce Earth’s temperature.

According to Oxford Languages, Geoengineering is the deliberate large-scale manipulation of an environmental process that affects the earth’s climate, in an attempt to counteract the effects of global warming.

According to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2012), Geoengineering is a broad set of methods and technologies that aim to deliberately alter the climate system to alleviate the impacts of climate change. Most, but not all, methods seek to either to reduce the amount of absorbed solar energy in the climate system (Solar Radiation Management); or increase net carbon sinks from the atmosphere at a scale sufficiently large to alter climate (Carbon Dioxide Removal)

The act of purposefully influencing or modifying the weather is known as weather modification or weather control. The most common form of weather modification is cloud seeding, which increases rain or snowfall, usually to increase local water supplies.

Experts argue that weather modification can also be used to prevent damaging weather, such as hail or hurricanes, from occurring or to provoke damaging weather against the enemy, as in Operation Popeye, where damaging weather was provoked against the enemy.

Types of Geoengineering

Solar geoengineering and carbon dioxide removal are the two most common types of Geoengineering. To restrict or reverse human-caused climate change, solar geoengineering, or solar radiation modification, would reflect some sunlight (solar radiation) to space. Carbon dioxide removal refers to the process of extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it for a long time. Solar geoengineering modifies the planet’s shortwave radiation budget, whereas carbon dioxide removal modifies its longwave radiation budget.

Weather modification or weather control is also another type of geoengineering. The most common form of weather modification is cloud seeding, which increases rain or snow, usually to increase the local water supply.

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Unknown Climate Risk

Geoengineering techniques are sometimes considered as viable complementing alternatives for minimizing climate change or its consequences, alongside lowering greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation. Scientists are unified in their belief that solar geoengineering and carbon dioxide removal are insufficient to reduce emissions. Given the economic, political, and physical limits of all forms of climate change solutions, certain Geoengineering techniques may eventually be utilized as a part of an ensemble of responses with the goal of climate restoration.

However, there are notable uncertainties about the effectiveness, side effects, and unanticipated implications of such treatments, most scientists say that the risks of such actions must be weighed against the dangers of catastrophic climate change. Large-scale interventions may pose a larger risk of altering natural systems, creating a quandary in which techniques that may be extremely cost-effective in mitigating extreme climate risk may themselves pose significant risk.

Some argue that the notion of geoengineering will diminish political and public pressure to reduce emissions, worsening overall climate risks; others argue that the fear of climate engineering will encourage emissions reductions.

Conclusion

Geoengineering would entail a large-scale, deliberate attempt to alter the climate. It would be different from actions like burning fossil fuels, which accidentally alter the climate. From a moral viewpoint, intentional climate change is frequently seen in a negative light. It raises the question of whether people have the right to intentionally alter the climate, and if so, under what circumstances. For example, there may be a moral difference between geoengineering to reduce global warming and geoengineering to improve the climate. Furthermore, ethical debates frequently address wider worldview issues, such as individual and social-religious convictions.

Sources

This Article was Published On: 20 July, 2021 And Last Modified On: 23 July, 2021

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