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Is Geoengineering a good strategy to combat global warming?

Geoengineering (also Climate Engineering, Terraforming) is the act of deliberately modifying earth's climate. Advocates claim it's cheaper, faster and more feasible than controlling emissions. Some suggest it's the only solution to fighting global warming given the amount of greenhouse gasses already in the atmosphere and negative political-economic realities. Skeptics worry that tinkering with the atmosphere may lead to unforeseen consequences and fighting over how much Geoengineering to do.

Implications to Other Questions

Is substantially reducing CO2 emissions worthwhile?
Is Geoengineering a good strategy to combat global warming?

Experts and Influencers

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Agree
Experts In Physics


Paul Crutzen    Nobel Laureate in Chemistry
Agree
Given the grossly disappointing international political response to the required greenhouse gas emissions, ...research on the feasibility and environmental consequences of climate engineering of the kind presented in this paper, which might need to be deployed in future, should not be tabooed. ...the possibility of the albedo enhancement scheme should not be used to justify inadequate climate policies but merely to create a possibility to combat potentially drastic climate heating.
27 Jul 2006    Source


Experts In Science


Robin Hanson    Economics Professor
Agree
For a few $B/yr or less we take a tiny fraction of the SO2 humans already emit and put it way up in the stratosphere, e.g., via Naval guns, where it blocks sunlight. ... There are risks from changing economies as well as from changing stratospheres, and we understand the latter far better than the former. If we cared more about global warming than symbolic gestures for planetary purity, we’d likely accept the risks and start artificial volcanoes as soon as we thought warming was hurting us.
08 Jul 2008    Source


Peter Ward    Biology and Earth Sciences Professor
Agree
The longevity of the biosphere can only be sustained through large-scale geoengineering [otherwise] the earth will go to hell in a handbasket.
11 Jan 2009    Source


Disagree
Experts In Climatology


Michael Oppenheimer    Physics Professor, IPCC Lead Author
Mostly Disagree
The so-called geoengineering approaches are really only a last resort, because all of them have potentially harmful environmental side effects, such as additional ozone depletion, and we're not at the point yet where we're desperate.
05 Oct 2006    Source


Daniel Schrag    Climatology Professor
Mostly Disagree
We don't understand the climate system very well and so trying to engineer a system that is probably unknowable and almost certainly uncontrollable is a very frightening thing. ... This may be a terrible idea but it might be better than the alternative, which is to let greenhouse-gas forming run away.
19 Nov 2007    Source


Experts In Global Warming


David Keith    Environmental scientist
Disagree
… And so I guess my view on this is not that I want to do it, I do not, but that we should move this out of the shadows and talk about it seriously, because sooner or later we’ll be confronted with decisions about this, and it’s better if we think hard about it, even if we want to think hard about reasons why we should never do it.
13 Nov 2007    Source


Neutral
Experts In Physics


John Holdren    Barack Obama's Science Advisor
Neutral
It's got to be looked at. We don't have the luxury [of] ruling any approach off the table. ... There's a very vigorous process going on of discussing all the options for addressing the energy climate challenge.
08 Apr 2009    Source



Comments

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0 Points      Side Effect      21 Apr 2015      Stance on Question: Neutral
Useful Information on global warming


0 Points      DGwartney      08 May 2009      Stance on Question: Neutral
Many other strategies should take precedence over climate engineering in regards to combating global warming. The first thing to note is that even if you are not worried about climate change, an abundance of surface carbon dioxide emissions within large cities coupled with stagnant air masses is definitely not good for you. That being said, and assuming humans play a tremendous role in excess atmospheric CO2 (I know that is a debate in itself), natural measures such as carpool lanes or extended metro systems would be better alternatives. Even if engineering my be cheaper or faster than reducing CO2 emissions, perhaps it is not the safest way. However, the argument remains that the CO2 levels in the atmosphere already exceed the numbers that emission reduction could tackle on its own. With this consideration, the ideal approach would be to start implementing reduced emissions and couple this practice with geo-engineering down the road. This way, emissions may start to reach a plateau while geo-engineering tackles the rest of the excess CO2.


0 Points      Benja      08 May 2009      General Comment
I agree both strategies will be part of the solution. Hopefully as we get a deeper understanding of the workings of our climate, we can choose a geo-engineering strategy that minimizes side-effects (e.g. ozone loss).