Big problems sometimes necessitate unconventional solutions, which is why many scientists are convinced geoengineering may be civilization’s best bet in combatting climate change. As the Economist reports, researchers are close to field trials of technologies aimed at spraying seawater into low-lying clouds in an attempt to make them whiter, and surface temperatures on our planet therefore cooler:
[Armand Neukermans, a retired Silicon Valley engineer], Thomas Ackerman and Robert Wood, the latter two both scientists who study clouds at the University of Washington, have with colleagues put together a proposal for field tests to see if such sprayers really work, if their effects can be controlled and measured, and what happens to clouds treated in this way. They are now investigating how to get such a programme financed.
Financing is evidently a problem for this kind of research, as plenty of reservations remain about the nascent technology. Greens scoff at the hubris of this potential solution, thinking the deliberate controlling of our climate beyond humanity’s ken (though they’ll be the first to note that we are already affecting our climate in very big ways). There are plenty of real concerns about what could happen in a worst-case scenario; indeed, this is a rich vein which science-fiction writers have already mined.There are also some real geopolitical concerns, as the Economist writes:
[Detractors] find the idea of some–possibly many—countries having the power to change the climate for the whole planet a geopolitical nightmare.
These are all valid points of contention, but they don’t lead to the conclusion that geoengineering is a worthless strategy. Take the time to read both pieces in this week’s Economist. They provide a good overview of a potential solution that hasn’t yet appeared on most people’s radar, but might be more and more important if the dangers of climate change are as bad as Malthusians claim.