It’s hard to argue with the recommendation from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences–that we should study methods of artificially cooling the climate, but certainly not rush into any actual efforts to do so.
That’s certainly what I think is a prudent course of action. If climate change turns out to be (I made this up) worse than we thought (what do you think of that as a catchphrase?) we may need all the arrows we can fit in our quiver.
Some of the reactions I’ve read seem a bit hysterical. For example, “Marcia McNutt, editor of the journal Science and former director of the U.S. Geological Survey, said in an interview that the public should read this report “and say, ‘This is downright scary.’ And they should say, ‘If this is our Hail Mary, what a scary, scary place we are in.'”
Michael Mann weighed in as well: “Such an idea “could do far more harm than good” and scientists should treat the Earth like doctors do their patients, abiding by the rule “first, do no harm,” said Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann.”
Ray Pierre-Humbert said the idea was utterly, howlingly, barkingly mad and that developing albedo modification technology would be like giving a loaded gun to a child.
Al Gore called the idea “nuts” in 2013 and a lot of people who spend a lot of time telling us how bad climate change is going to be really, really don’t like geoengineering.
There’s no doubt that it would pose a risk–it might not work. It might work too well. There is the possibility of unintended consequences.
Which is why it’s smart to study it. To condemn it beforehand is just another roadblock–it seems as if they want climate change to remain forever a ‘wicked’ problem without a solution.
But global warming is only a wicked problem if we take all the solutions off the table. We could drastically reduce our impact on the climate by building enough nuclear power plants and converting our cars to electric. But nuclear cannot even be mentioned as a solution. Hydroelectric power and natural gas are considered just as evil. And now geoengineering is something we cannot even contemplate.
Which of these ‘cures’ is worse than the disease?