We should deal with the root cause of the global warming rather than using unproven, risky and unjust methods
A panel of scientists urged more intensive research on geoengineering even as they said that such a technology was not an effective tool to counter climate change at this point. The National Academy of Sciences panel said Tuesday that further research on geoengineering could include small-scale experiments to better understand how it would work.
More research needed to develop effective methods
Many scientists argue that this kind of technology would be the ultimate admission of our failure to cut carbon emissions. The panel said that global warming can only be avoided by cutting emissions. But the influential group of 16 climate scientists urged policymakers to commit to further research on geoengineering techniques. It’s always good to have a few additional options, said Dr Marcia K. McNutt, the chairperson of the panel.
In two different reports, the government-backed committee noted that dramatically reducing emissions of greenhouse gases was the best way to mitigate the effects of climate change. Geoengineering techniques fall into two categories. One, capturing and storing the already emitted carbon dioxide to reduce the carbon concentration in the atmosphere. Two, reflecting some of the sunlight away from the Earth so that less heat reaches our planet.
Scientists said that the first option, called carbon dioxide removal, carried a low risk. But it is expensive. Even if this method were used on a planet-wide scale, it would take decades to significantly reduce carbon concentration in the atmosphere. Scientists said more research was needed to develop effective and efficient methods to capture and store carbon so it doesn’t reach the atmosphere again.
It’s premature to deploy geoengineering techniques today
The second method, solar radiation management, has been extremely controversial. It involves dispersing chemicals high in the atmosphere that would reflect sunlight. Though the process is inexpensive, it must be repeated indefinitely. Worse, it may have unintended effects on weather patterns, causing drought and floods.
Opponents of geoengineering say that we should deal with the root cause of the global warming rather than using unproven, risky and unjust methods. Carnegie Institution for Science researcher Ken Caldeira said that it would be premature to deploy geoengineering techniques today. But it’s worth knowing the technology.