I was first introduced to the topic of climate change in high school through the movie, “An Inconvenient Truth”, and since then the issue has been weighing heavily on my mind. A few years ago I became aware of a solution to climate change called geoengineering. Encyclopaedia Britannica defines geoengineering as, “the large-scale manipulation of a specific process central to controlling Earth’s climate for the purpose of obtaining a specific benefit.”
There are forty proposed methods, but the two primary methods used are Carbon Dioxide Reduction (CDR) and Solar Radiation Management (SRM). CDR deals with reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the air through natural means such as planting more trees and algae, and increasing carbon in soils. I agree with this process because although we are tampering with the ecosystem of the planet, we are not introducing new things into it. With fast fluctuating climate changes, I understand why the demand to be able to control the weather is an issue. I agree with certain methods like CDR to help strengthen our planet so that it can defend itself, much like strengthening the immune system of a human being.
On the other hand, we have SRM that is reducing the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth’s surface. This method is done by introducing nanoparticles such as sulphate, barium, and aluminum into the atmosphere. The health effects from these types of metals over a long period of time are unknown, which is my main problem with this method. Volcanoes release sulphate naturally, but with such a high amount being pumped into our skies we don’t know the effect that it will have on our respiratory system, and the respiratory system of animals as well. Also, other particles involved such as aluminum have been related to human diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Another concern is the filtering out of many positive effects of sunlight such as Vitamin D.
At this point, with the SRM aspect, I feel like it is more of an experiment that we cannot afford to gamble with. Other pressing issues such as genetically modified foods still leave us with the freedom of choice, whereas with geoengineering we are all participants whether we like it or not.
Video on Solar Radiation Management
– Jenna Bains