Make America dimmer? It’s a concept President Joe Biden might be willing to explore.
A new White House report praises the theory of what has been called solar radiation modification (SRM) – a geoengineering concept that seeks to use various ways to block the sun’s rays from hitting the planet with the concept that this can reverse global warming.
Bill Gates has supported technology in which particles would be spread in the atmosphere to block sunlight from reaching the surface of the Earth, as noted by Forbes. In February, George Soros lent his support to a project using solar geoengineering to reflect more sunlight back into space, according to Fortune.
The White House report said it is not ready to implement the technology, but said that “SRM offers the possibility of cooling the planet significantly on a timescale of a few years.”
“Such cooling would tend to reverse many of the negative consequences of climate change, albeit with ramifications which are now poorly understood. Interest in SRM is heightened as greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere and as science tells us more about the risks associated with exceeding global temperature targets,” the report said.
The report said a few more facts are needed, however.
“The potential risks and benefits to human health and well-being associated with scenarios involving the use of SRM need to be considered relative to the risks and benefits associated with plausible trajectories of ongoing climate change not involving SRM,” the report said.
“This ‘risk vs. risk’ framing, along with cultural, moral, and ethical considerations, would contribute to the necessary context in which policymakers can consider the potential suitability of SRM as a component of climate policy,” the report said.
The White House said in a statement accompanying the report, “there are no plans underway to establish a comprehensive research program focused on solar radiation modification,” according to Politico.
But at least one proponent of the idea says the report is progress
“The fact that this report even exists is probably the most consequential component of this release,” Shuchi Talati, the executive director of the Alliance for Just Deliberation on Solar Geoengineering, said.
“This report also signals that the U.S. government is supportive of well-governed research, including outdoor experimentation, which I think is quite significant,” the report said.
Earlier this year, Chukwumerije Okereke, director of the Center for Climate Change and Development at Alex Ekwueme Federal University in Nigeria, says these concepts should not be tried out using Africa as a giant petri dish.
“As a climate expert, I consider these environmental manipulation techniques extremely risky. And as an African climate expert, I strongly object to the idea that Africa should be turned into a testing ground for their use,” he wrote in an Op-Ed in The New York Times.
Okereke called solar radiation management “highly speculative. Without using the whole earth as a laboratory, it’s impossible to know whether it would dim anything, let alone how it would affect ecosystems, people and the global climate.”
“Other proposed techniques include covering deserts with plastic; genetically engineering plants to have brighter, more reflective leaves; creating or making clouds whiter; and deploying millions of mirrors in space,” he wrote.
Okereke noted that ideas on paper omit a discussion of their impact on people, noting that “the technologies run the danger of upsetting local and regional weather patterns — intensifying drought or flooding, for example, or disrupting monsoon cycles. And the long-term impact on regional climate and seasons is still largely unknown. Millions, perhaps billions, of people’s livelihoods could be undermined.”