There’s been a lot of conversations on climate change and global warming lately. I don’t know if it’s another fearmongering tactic, but the debates on Solar Radiation Management have kept my attention. So it’s only right that I find some clarity.
Global warming and climate change are somewhat interchangeable. Global warming refers to the rising of the earth’s temperature, while climate change includes its side effects: melting glaciers, heavy rainstorms, and droughts. The solution to the problem is Geoengineering. It’s defined as the deliberate, large-scale manipulations of the Earth’s environment designed to offset the harmful consequences of GHG (greenhouse gas)-induced climate change.
The two approaches to Geoengineering are Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) and Solar Radiation Management (SRM).
- CDR also referred to as post-emission GHG management or carbon sequestration methods involves the removal and long-term sequestration of atmospheric CO2 in forests, agricultural systems, or direct air capture.
- SRM is designed to increase the reflectivity of the Earth’s atmosphere or surface in an attempt to offset some of the effects of GHG-induced change. In other words, it’s set to minimize global warming by reflecting the sun’s energy away from the earth.
NRDC advised that 30 percent of the energy from the sun is reflected back out in space. The planet absorbs the remaining 70 percent, with carbon dioxide and methane trapping the heat within the atmosphere. SRM’s goal is to bounce more of the sun’s energy back into space, controlling the temperature levels and cooling down the planet. In regards to how this will work, The Daily Beast stated that a fleet of planes will spray particles into the stratosphere regularly to reduce the amount of sunlight that reaches the troposphere. Sulfur dioxide will most likely be used to offset a doubling of atmospheric CO2, which represents a global temperature increase between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees Celsius.
I labeled this as fearmongering because The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) advised that we’re on the path to global temperature increases by 3 degrees above industrial levels if we don’t fix this problem. Not to mention the fact that sea levels are expected to rise over 7 feet and the heat would kill millions, destroying plants and wildlife in the process. The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggested carbon farming, which helps absorb carbon dioxide, as another solution. But SRM is the most talked about and controversial.
Climate alteration raises ethical concerns. SRM may pose a moral hazard, where focusing on climate change solutions may detract from the efforts to reduce GHG emissions. This process could also make some areas colder than they currently are, and excess carbon could cause the oceans to acidify, which disrupts the ecosystem. Species like clams, oysters, and corals would be killed off.
I’m a little bit hot and cold when it comes to Solar Radiation Management (no pun intended). As a safety precaution, I understand the need to control the Earth’s temperature, but we’re still too late. Humans, particularly capitalists, have destroyed the planet. So controlling the temperature is only a temporary fix to a widespread problem.
Until Next Time…
Benson, T. (2019, July 23). How We Can Dim the Sun to Survive Climate Change. Retrieved December 21, 2019, from https://www.thedailybeast.com/how-solar-radiation-management-can-dim-the-sun-to-maybe-survive-climate-change?ref=scroll.
Harvey, F. (2016, November 3). World on track for 3C of warming under current global climate pledges, warns UN. Retrieved December 21, 2019, from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/03/world-on-track-for-3c-of-warming-under-current-global-climate-pledges-warns-un.
Kennedy, C., & Lindsey, R. (2015, June 17). What’s the difference between global warming and climate change? Retrieved December 21, 2019, from https://www.climate.gov/news-features/climate-qa/whats-difference-between-global-warming-and-climate-change.
Palmer, B. (2015, January 25). The Dept. of Solar Radiation Management. Retrieved December 21, 2019, from https://www.nrdc.org/onearth/dept-solar-radiation-management.
Advancing the Science of Climate Change (2010) Chapter: 15 Solar Radiation Management. (n.d.). Retrieved December 21, 2019, from https://www.nap.edu/read/12782/chapter/19.
WHAT IS SRM? (n.d.). Retrieved December 21, 2019, from http://www.srmgi.org/what-is-srm/.