The ideas that come out of geo-engineering to me all seem like insane ideas. Like trying to expand the Earth’s orbit so that the sun’s radiation isn’t as strong, and therefore cooling the Earth down. Not only would the act of moving the Earth probably kill everyone because of the amount of energy needed, but there is no knowledge of whether the resulting Earth system would have the right amount of solar radiation to still support the same life systems it has now. Other ideas like cutting down all of the forests in Siberia and Canada in order to create more white, light-reflecting surface, seem problematic because of the vital services forests provide such as carbon dioxide absorption and habitat for many species.
The common denominator between most of the geo-engineering ideas is that they would involve cooling the Earth down by changing how the Earth absorbs/reflects the sun’s radiation. This is an idea to combat climate change that has a lot of ethical and economical debate. On one hand, this “Plan B” solution is much cheaper than the “Plan A” of reducing our carbon emissions. It was mentioned in both articles how cheap sulfur aerosol injection is, and how easy it would be to implement right now. I found it interesting how many scientists didn’t want to release their findings about these geo-engineering solutions because of their fear of the public or politicians taking these findings and disregarding any efforts towards Plan A, and just following the cheaper alternative.
Ethically however, there are reasons to hold back on geo-engineering efforts. For one, it is very risky to take the Earth’s climate into our own hands and “play God.” Without knowledge of the real effects of these solutions, this “cure” for climate change could possibly create much worse problems. The other outcome is that once we start for example, pumping sulfur aerosol into the atmosphere, we will need to continue to do that forever, because as soon as we stopped, climate change would come back in even greater effect.
These articles were very interesting to me and they made me think about the possible geo-engineering solutions that aren’t as insane or potentially destructive. It is clear to me after reading these articles that something needs to be done to combat climate change, and it is possible that getting people to change their behavior is something that might be too little too late. Other solutions might need to be placed into effect, whether or not we know the full consequences of them. Hopefully it doesn’t come to the point where we feel desperate enough to implement any of the solutions mentioned here, but that’s not to say we should give up researching geo-engineering, as there are possible successful solutions just waiting to be discovered.