JAN 20, 2022 2:00 PM PST

Experts Say: Don't Dim the Sun to Fight Climate Change

WRITTEN BY: Matthew Lundy

In a Perspective piece published this week in WIREs Climate Change, an international team of experts have decried solar geoengineering – the process of affecting or limiting incoming sunlight to change the Earth’s climate – and called on governments from around the world to sign on to an “International Non-Use Agreement.” The journal article is paired with an open letter signed by 63 named experts, consisting largely of professors and researchers.   

Solar geoengineering is a potential method of combating climate change and global warming. Many of the harmful effects of climate change, such as increased drought and lower crop yields, are a result of increasing global temperatures. In an effort to limit these effects, solar geoengineering projects, such as “the injection of aerosols in the stratosphere” to take an example from the article, would limit the amount of sunlight that enters our atmosphere. This lower amount of sunlight would cause global temperatures to decrease because the major source of heat on Earth is sunlight.

The researchers behind the article and open letter are calling for an international agreement rejecting the use and proliferation of this kind of project. The article justifies this stance by citing various concerns with the potential technology and subsequent governance. Scientific concerns include worries about unintended effects of altering such a fundamental aspect of our planet. The authors state that such worries could persist even with more research, asserting that “…there is deep-seated disagreement about whether the risks and effectiveness of solar geoengineering could ever be fully understood before deployment…”  

The authors also sound alarm over the implausibility of proper international governing of solar inhibitors, which could impact every nation on the planet; they “see the deployment of solar geoengineering as impossible to govern fairly and effectively in the current international political system.”

The Perspective piece presents yet another worry in the minimization of tested and reliable means of mitigating climate change, such as eliminating our current carbon emissions, in light of the possibility of future adaptation strategies, like solar geoengineering. While more research could bring about a more manageable alternative to current ideas of solar geoengineering, such a future unknown cannot justify a lack of climate action now.


Source: WIREs Climate Change

About the Author
Master's (MA/MS/Other)
Science communicator passionate about physics, space, and our, unfortunately, changing climate; exploring the universe through written word and the occasional video.
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