Reshared post from Azimuth

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This New Yorker article is a good introduction to state of play in geoengineering – in particularly, the idea that artificially reducing the amount of sunlight hitting the Earth, or deliberately removing CO2 from the air, could limit global warming. I predict that at some point the majority public opinion on geoengineering will flip from "unthinkably risky" to "urgently desirable" – although, of course, not uniformly: it'll be extremely divisive.

"Last fall, the SPICE team decided to conduct a brief and uncontroversial pilot study. At least they thought it would be uncontroversial. To demonstrate how they would disperse the sulfur dioxide, they had planned to float a balloon over Norfolk, at an altitude of a kilometre, and send a hundred and fifty litres of water into the air through a hose. After the date and time of the test was announced, in the middle of September, more than fifty organizations signed a petition objecting to the experiment, in part because they fear that even to consider engineering the climate would provide politicians with an excuse for avoiding tough decisions on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Opponents of the water test pointed out the many uncertainties in the research (which is precisely why the team wanted to do the experiment). The British government decided to put it off for at least six months."

On the other hand, removing CO2 from the air seems harder to do at the necessary scale, but it would prevent ocean acidification, and Richard Branson has offered a Virgin Earth Challenge prize of 25 million dollars to anyone who can devise a process that would drain large quantities of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Thanks to +Jim Stuttard for pointing this out.

Can Geoengineering Solve Global Warming?

The best solution, nearly all scientists agree, would be the simplest: stop burning fossil fuels, which would reduce the amount of carbon we dump into the atmosphere…

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