Could imitating volcanos fix the climate crisis? Science is spilt | Climate Crisis News

Could Mimicking Volcanos Fix the Climate Crisis? Scientists Debate

Climate change is an urgent threat to humanity, and scientists worldwide are exploring all available options to address the crisis. The most promising of these, in recent years, has been solar geoengineering. Two researchers from Southeast Asia are studying whether it’s possible to mimic the cooling effects of volcanic eruptions to help combat global warming. Using computer modelling and analysis, Pornampai Narenpitak in Thailand and Heri Kuswanto in Indonesia are separately examining whether injecting large quantities of sulfur dioxide into the Earth’s stratosphere could have a similar effect on global temperatures as the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815. However, the scientists are well aware that solar geoengineering is a nascent technology and that it should be viewed as supplementary to, rather than an alternative to, reducing carbon emissions.

The Science Behind Solar Geoengineering

Solar geoengineering, also known as stratospheric aerosol injection, is a group of nascent – and controversial – technologies that have been proposed as potential solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change. These technologies include brightening marine clouds to reflect the sun or breaking up cirrus clouds that capture heat. Although largely untested in the real world, scientists believe that solar geoengineering merits further study.

While the concept of stratospheric aerosol injection is still under debate, researchers believe that studying the technology is essential. There is a lot we don’t know about the climate system itself, and to assess the impacts of solar geoengineering, we need people who understand the context of each country to do the analysis. Although the impacts will look different for different countries, it is better to know how the technology works, just in case.

The Need for Further Study

Both Narenpitak and Kuswanto are neutral on whether solar geoengineering should be used to offset the effects of climate change. Still, they agree that the technology is still in its early stages and that more research is necessary. Kuswanto’s team found that while solar geoengineering could have positive effects in some parts of Indonesia, it would lead to temperature rises elsewhere. To improve this, they need to look more closely at the climate systems and study them further.

It’s also worth noting that solar geoengineering should be viewed as a supplement to reducing carbon emissions. Even after we reduce carbon emissions, it takes several years for the carbon that has already been emitted into the atmosphere to be removed, and its warming effect is still there. In that sense, solar geoengineering may be able to bring down the temperature.

The Future of Solar Geoengineering

Climate scientists say that the world must keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5C (2.7F) to avoid some of the worst projected effects of climate change. Achieving that goal, however, appears to be increasingly unlikely. Whether solar geoengineering should even be considered as a solution is still up for debate. The technology was absent from the UN Environment Programme’s 2022 Emissions Gap Report, which included different strategies for climate mitigation.

While solar geoengineering remains a nascent technology, it has gained traction among researchers worldwide. Major funding for this technology has been concentrated in the United States since China’s five-year research project on solar geoengineering came to an end in 2019. However, researchers concluded that China should keep pushing towards a global agreement on solar geoengineering. This trend is set to continue after the US 2022 Appropriations Act authorized funding for a five-year project.

Conclusion

Solar geoengineering is a new and untested technology that has generated significant debate and controversy. Despite this, researchers around the world are increasingly interested in exploring its potential as a means to address the impacts of climate change.

Narenpitak and Kuswanto’s research on solar geoengineering provides valuable insights into the potential benefits and risks of this approach. Their findings highlight the need for further research and caution in considering solar geoengineering as a solution to climate change.

It is clear that any efforts to address climate change must be multifaceted and include a range of mitigation and adaptation measures. While solar geoengineering may have a role to play, it is not a substitute for reducing greenhouse gas emissions or transitioning to a more sustainable and equitable future.

Overall, continued research and public discourse on solar geoengineering are essential to ensure that any potential deployment of this technology is done safely and responsibly.