The UN, Solar Engineering and Climate Change Psychosis By James Reed
The UN has just released its report, One Atmosphere: An Independent Expert Review on Solar Radiation Modification Research and Deployment. The report examines scenarios of reducing so-called global warming, through solar engineering methods, seen as the only way of rapidly producing a cooling of the planet, within only a few years. Shutting down fossil fuels and crashing Western civilisation is just not quick enough, so more radical methods are needed. The broad idea is to reflect sunlight away from the Earth, one way being to replicate volcanic emissions and to seed the upper atmosphere with sulphur particles. The UN report does not advocate doing this right now, but sees the prima facie merit of investigating it further. You can be sure that when the magic “10 years” to save the planet passes, it will be done if not opposed.
The problem is, that the assumption is made that global warming is occurring, and occurring at the alarming levels that the UN IPCC say it is. But if they are wrong about either of these assumptions, there could be an alternative problem of global cooling set off, and perhaps cascading effects producing further cooling, which would be far more devastating than any proposed global warming effects. Remember, they accept that the climate system is subject to chaos effects and the rest. And, there are unexpected consequences that could occur, as climate patterns are altered, such as damaging the monsoons, and leading to mass death by starvation in Asia. And, that is going to occur in some nations which have nuclear weapons, and they will not be happy.
- The “speculative group of technologies” that involve reflecting sunlight away from the Earth and back toward space, often called solar radiation modification, or more broadly solar geoengineering, should not be used now, the United Nations said, but they should be studied more rigorously.
- Reflecting sunlight away from the Earth is dangerous, but it is also doable and quick, which means that if climate change-mitigation strategies continue to be insufficient, it could become a viable option.
- There also needs to be international governance rules established for any possible use of sunlight-reflection technology, especially because the relatively low cost and relatively simple technology make it possible for a “rogue deployment.”
Global efforts to respond to climate change are so far insufficient, making it time to begin studying technologies to reflect sunlight away from the Earth to cool it down temporarily, said a new report from the United Nations published on Monday.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is the only way to permanently slow global warming, but worldwide efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are currently “not on track to meet the 1.5° Celsius Paris Agreement goal,” the U.N. Environment Program said in a written statement accompanying the release of the report.
With the world not responding to climate change urgently enough, a “speculative group of technologies” to reflect sunlight back away from the Earth have been getting more attention recently, UNEP said in a written statement accompanying the report. This category of technologies is often called solar radiation modification (SRM) or more broadly solar geoengineering.
The report on these technologies, written by an expert panel brought together by the U.N. program, advised that it’s currently not a good idea to use them in an effort to respond to climate change.
However, “this view may change if climate action remains insufficient,” the report said, signaling that it’s time for rigorous study of both the technologies and the potential international governance.
A similar message came from a group of more than 60 scientists in an open letter that was also (coincidentally) published on Monday.
Fast and doable, but potentially dangerous
Solar geoengineering “is the only known approach that could be used to cool the Earth within a few years,” the U.N. report said, and would cost tens of billions of dollars per year per degree of cooling.
While the technology to inject large quantities of aerosols into the upper atmosphere does not exist today, it’s not seen as being terribly complicated: “No show-stopping technical hurdles have been identified,” the U.N. report said, and it could be “developed in under ten years.”
Scientists know it works quickly, citing the drop in the global average temperature after large volcanic eruptions have spread large quantities of aerosols into the upper atmosphere. These observations of volcanic activity provides “strong evidence that a deliberate injection of large amounts of reflective particles into the stratosphere would cool the Earth rapidly,” the U.N. study said.
“If global warming at some point produces outcomes widely seen as intolerable (e.g. widespread famines, mass migration, mass mortality and destruction of infrastructure) an operational SRM deployment as part of a ‘planned’ emergency response might be able to alleviate some of this suffering within a few years,” according to the report.
But the techniques can also be dangerous.”