Solar radiation management usually involves reflecting sunlight back into space to lower global warming. The cheapest versions of this proposal involve injecting particles or gasses into the upper atmosphere. The idea is it might give us time to reduce emissions, and reduce Greenhouse Gas levels in the atmosphere, through some kind of carbon removal technology which actually works at the kind of levels we need.
There are a few problems:
- We can only model the effects, and use those models to guide us in implementation. We will not know the effects until they arrive. Our models will always be out of date.
- Effects from this kind of geoengineering will not be immediate, so it will be even harder to judge what effects are arising from the technology.
- Some countries will suffer bad weather events after the process begins. We won’t know if they suffered those effects because of the process, because of climate change, or because of normal weather or a combination of all three.
- Some countries which suffer bad weather effects leading to famine or large scale destruction, might decide this is climate warfare against them – which could lead to conventional war. If not they would probably demand and deserve compensation, which would probably cause frictions between badly affected countries.
- We would have to have a world-wide agreement on this, and ownership of this, how it was used and what the effects are, to preserve peace and co-ordinate the practice. This is probably impossible.
- It will not stop the seas from getting more acidic, leading to ocean death, especially if it encourages delays to reduction of GHG emissions.
- It will be costly – not amazingly costly, but costly enough. If there is a world financial crash or war, then it could be discontinued, and climate change might “catch up” leading to more weather instability, and ferocity.
This is not a solution. But we don’t have a solution. This is a problem.