Dimming The Sun

The United Nations Environment Assembly considered a resolution on solar radiation modification, which is a controversial technology. The technology aims to reduce the heating effect of greenhouse gases by reflecting sunlight back to space. Few supporters claim it will limit the impact of climate change. However, this type of “geoengineering” poses significant risks and may destabilize the already disturbed weather and climate. Additionally, its adverse effects will remain unknown until after deployment.

In April 2022, an American startup company released two weather balloons into the air from Mexico to deflect sunlight and cool the atmosphere. The resulting reduction in warming would be sold as “cooling credits” to those wanting to offset greenhouse gas pollution. However, appreciably cooling the climate would require injecting millions of metric tons of aerosols into the stratosphere using a purpose-built fleet of high-altitude aircraft. Such an undertaking would alter global wind and rainfall patterns, leading to more drought and cyclones, exacerbating acid rainfall, and slowing ozone recovery. Additionally, stopping this stratospheric aerosol injection prematurely would lead to an unprecedented rise in global temperatures that far exceed extreme climate change scenarios.

Another solar geoengineering technology, known as marine cloud brightening, seeks to make low-lying clouds more reflective by spraying microscopic seawater droplets into the air. Trials have been underway on the Great Barrier Reef since 2017. However, scaling up this technology would require up to 1,000 machines on boats, all pumping and spraying vast amounts of seawater for months during summer. Even if it worked, the operation is hardly environmentally friendly. The technology’s effects remain uncertain, and it poses significant risks to marine life and agriculture.

Initially, the draft resolution called for the creation of an expert group to examine the benefits and risks of solar radiation modification. However, the motion was withdrawn after no consensus was reached on the sensitive topic.

The Arctic Ice Project involves spreading a layer of tiny glass spheres over large regions of sea ice to brighten its surface and halt ice loss. Trials have been conducted on frozen lakes in North America, but scientists recently showed that the spheres absorb some sunlight, speeding up sea-ice loss in some conditions. Another proposed intervention is spraying the ocean with microbubbles or sea foam to make the surface more reflective. However, this would introduce large concentrations of chemicals to stabilize bubbles or foam at the sea surface, posing significant risks to marine life, ecosystem function, and fisheries.

Solar geoengineering is gaining popularity as a response to the climate crisis. However, research has consistently identified potential risks posed by the technology, such as unpredictable climate and weather patterns, biodiversity loss, and reduced food security. Additionally, this technology could infringe on human rights across generations by exposing future generations to significant risks.

A notable development was a call from some Global South countries for “non-use” of solar radiation modification. They believe that there are too many experiments done already on Human-caused climate change so this controversial innovation is not required.

In conclusion, solar geoengineering poses significant risks and may not be a viable solution to the climate crisis. It’s crucial to prioritize sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions to address climate change.

This news is a creative derivative product from articles published in famous peer-reviewed journals and Govt reports:

1. Gupta, A., Kerry, J., & Hughes, T. (2024, February 29). Not such a bright idea: cooling the Earth by reflecting sunlight back to space is a dangerous distraction. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/not-such-a-bright-idea-cooling-the-earth-by-reflecting-sunlight-back-to-space-is-a-dangerous-distraction-223353

By Editor

Leave a Reply