Aposto Science gathers all the best articles on science. Topics include physics, nature, space, medicine, innovation and beyond. In the first issue of Aposto Sports, you can read the article by Lili Fuhr, Deputy Director of the Climate and Energy Program at the Center for International Environmental Law.
Debunking Solar Geoengineering
BERLIN – As climate chaos threatens the Global North and the lifestyles of the world’s richest people, we might expect to hear elites demand a rapid exit from reliance on fossil fuels. Instead, a controversial idea is coming to the fore: dimming the sun. Advocates claim that through science fiction-like methods, known as solar geoengineering, we can dial down the planet’s thermostat by decreasing the amount of energy that reaches the atmosphere. The idea has gained enough traction for rich philanthropists to notice and for the White House to fund research. There’s just one problem: it’s a recipe for disaster.
One technological proposal currently making headlines is Stratospheric Aerosol Injection (SAI), with advocates claiming releasing aerosols into the upper atmosphere and bouncing sunlight back into space would reduce surface temperatures. This idea is gaining traction at a time when some contend that we should be working on a plan B because it is too late to limit global warming to 1.5° Celsius as agreed in the 2015 Paris climate agreement. But giving up this ambition would be a gift to carbon polluters, as International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol recently explained, and the notion that solar geoengineering could ever be a plan B is false and dangerous.
Experts have repeatedly debunked the idea that we can “control” the earth’s thermostat. The world’s foremost authority on climate science, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has warned that solar geoengineering is not a credible solution. Climate models show that masking global heating with sunlight reduction could bring massive changes in atmospheric circulation and alter rainfall patterns – such as the monsoon – with especially pronounced effects in countries that are already experiencing increasingly severe and frequent storms, droughts, fires, and other climate-related events.