The Overshoot Commission, a leading global environmental body, is advocating for an increased focus on research into solar geoengineering, a controversial yet potential solution to combat climate change. In a recent announcement, the Commission has recommended a temporary halt to large-scale outdoor trials, citing the potential risks and the need for a more thorough understanding of the technology.
Solar geoengineering refers to the large-scale manipulation of environmental processes that affect the planet’s climate. The Commission has identified Solar radiation modification (SRM) as a promising technique to counter extreme heat. SRM works by reducing the amount of sunlight that reaches the Earth’s surface, thereby lowering global temperatures.
Pascal Lamy, the president of the Overshoot Commission, has strongly recommended increased investigation into solar geoengineering. However, his call has sparked a debate within the scientific community. Some researchers argue that focusing primarily on SRM could distract us from the real task at hand: climate mitigation efforts.
In addition to SRM, the Commission is also supporting the rapid development of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) techniques. These are methods aimed at directly removing CO2, a primary greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere. Despite ongoing debates about the effectiveness and cost of CDR techniques, the Commission proposes that government should provide incentives to stimulate innovation in this area.
The Commission’s recommendations come at a time when the global interest in geoengineering as a potential solution to climate change is surging. However, not everyone is on board with the idea of geoengineering the climate. A group of experts has recently called for a worldwide moratorium on all attempts to engineer our climate. These experts cite the high risks associated with geoengineering, warning that these techniques could have unpredictable effects and may even exacerbate the very problem they are trying to solve. Instead, they recommend focusing on proven strategies like reducing greenhouse gas emissions and developing sustainable energy.
In the midst of these contrasting views, one thing remains clear: the urgency of addressing climate change cannot be overstated. The Overshoot Commission is advocating for an acceleration in emission reductions, more resources for climate change adaptation, and scaling up technologies to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. With the future of our planet at stake, all potential solutions, including geoengineering, must be carefully examined and judiciously implemented.