Scientists want to turn the dial on the Earth’s temperature — literally. They want to forcefully change the climate. Uh oh.
The Task Force on Climate Change Remediation Research recently released a report detailing its plan to increase knowledge of “geoengineering” in case the United States requires abrupt movement on combating climate change. In other words, scientists want to fight climate change with climate change. Lately, America has indeed let environmental protection slip as other political talking points have arisen, but this reaction is too radical. We need to continue focusing on regulating emissions and following other environmental guidelines before tinkering with the planet’s constitution.
Primarily, the idea itself is foreign. How can humans adjust the Earth’s temperature just like adjusting the thermostat on the wall? The report defines geoengineering — or “climate remediation” — as “intentional actions taken to counter the climate effects of past greenhouse gas emissions on the atmosphere.” The task force is looking into two different methods to go about climate remediation: One removes greenhouse gases from the air and the other reduces the Earth’s absorption of energy from sunlight. Both methods have numerous side effects including threats to food and water supply, loss of arctic floating ice, large releases of greenhouse gases from arctic regions, melting ice caps to raise the sea level, and loss of ozone. The effort to reduce global warming seems to induce the effects of global warming.
Nonetheless, the task force does not recommend deploying these new techniques immediately. They understand the possible consequences and simply ask that the U.S. research the topic in order to be prepared for a time when forced climate change becomes necessary. The first four pages of the report are basically a disclaimer. Great.
However, the report seems trustworthy. The task force consists of “leaders from the scientific, science policy, foreign policy, national security, legal, and environmental communities.” The group includes not only scientists, but also people who understand how these measures would affect various aspects of our world. This group approaches the topic methodically, carefully defining its terms and assuring people that “climate remediation” will cause no harm (except, what about those side effects?).
The task force urges the U.S. government to research the two previously mentioned technologies for various reasons. Of course, the task force acknowledges that it wants to eliminate global warming because of its negative effects on the planet. Additionally, other countries have already begun research on climate remediation. Germany, India, Russia, and the United Kingdom have already moved forward with their geoengineering projects.
Will purposeful climate change become a source of power, or a weapon? Is climate remediation going to force the world into another Cold War, but a Cold War based on adjusting the Earth’s temperature? Probably not. But it seems like we are walking into a dreadful Hollywood screenplay right now, except somehow I don’t think Will Smith will be able to save us from the horrible effects that will ensue from an experiment gone wrong.
According to a New York Times article, I am not the only person questioning these new Earth-protection methods. In fact, various environmental groups have spurned the new idea, saying it could be dangerous. Conversely, proponents say that we are changing the climate anyway with our current practices that emit greenhouse gases, so why not do it some more? Still others argue that we cannot fall behind other countries that are moving ahead with research.
This new idea brings up very complex questions about how to handle the eminent threat of global warming. Governments across the world must pay more attention and refuse to allow the issue be pushed aside by bigger political talking points. Maybe a drastic idea is necessary to bring focus back to the issue. However, intentionally changing the Earth’s climate will have far-reaching consequences (similar to those of global warming itself!). And, there will be unknown side effects no matter how much scientists research climate remediation. Then, once we begin this kind of Earth-altering science, will there be any chance to go back? The task force should refrain from entering this science experiment; the task force may have good intentions, but the planet cannot endure its uncertain repercussions.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons