Scientists say the time has come to cool the earth as warming barriers have been broken. Worldwide efforts to combat climate change have been insufficient thus far.
This prompted the United Nations to begin researching methods to reflect sunlight away from the Earth. The goal is to temporarily cool it, according to a new report published on Monday.
The only way to permanently halt global warming is to cut greenhouse gas emissions. However, global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are currently “off pace to meet the 1.5° Celsius Paris Agreement goal.” This is based on a written statement accompanying the report’s release.
With the world failing to adapt to climate change quickly enough, a “speculative collection of technologies” to reflect sunlight away from the Earth have recently gained attention, according to UNEP in a written statement accompanying the report. This class of technologies is commonly referred to as solar radiation modification (SRM) or, more broadly, solar geoengineering.
The assessment of these technologies, authored by an expert group assembled by the United Nations program, advised that using them to respond to climate change is now not a smart idea.
But “this perception may change if climate action remains insufficient,” according to the research. This indicates that it is time for a thorough examination of both technology and prospective international governance.
A similar message was delivered by a group of more than 60 scientists in an open letter released on Monday.
Solar Geo-engineering is the Way to Cool the Earth as Warming Looms
According to the United Nations assessment, solar geoengineering “is the only known strategy that might be utilized to cool the earth within a few years.” Also, it would cost tens of billions of dollars each year per one degree Celsius of cooling.
While the technology to inject huge amounts of aerosols into the high atmosphere does not currently exist, it is not thought to be very complicated. According to the United Nations assessment, “no show-stopping technological difficulties have been identified.” Also, it may be “built in less than ten years.”
Scientists know it works rapidly because of the reduction in global average temperature. That is, the temperature that occurs after big volcanic eruptions spew massive amounts of aerosols into the upper atmosphere.
The studies of volcanic activity provide “strong evidence that an intentional injection of significant amounts of reflecting particles into the stratosphere would rapidly cool the earth,” according to the United Nations report.
“If global warming produces outcomes widely regarded as intolerable (e.g. widespread famines, mass migration, mass mortality, and infrastructure destruction), an operational SRM deployment as part of a ‘planned’ emergency response may be able to alleviate some of this suffering within a few years,” according to the report.
However, scientists raised concern about solar geoengineering, as it is perceived to be potentially dangerous.
Sulfur dioxide, for example, is frequently advocated as an aerosol. However, this technique would result in acid rain, according to the paper. It may potentially contribute to ozone depletion.
“Antarctic ozone hole rehabilitation could be delayed by a number of decades, and the ozone hole could become deeper in the first decade after SAI [stratospheric aerosol injection] deployment,” according to United Nations research.
As a result, solar geoengineering could be viewed as a one-time effort. That is an effort to alleviate the extreme pain and mortality caused by climate change.
Instead, sunlight-reflective equipment could be part of a longer-term “phased” approach. This is to buy more time to aggressively and permanently cut greenhouse gas emissions. Nonetheless, scientists say that we simply don’t know enough about the side effects of these technologies right now.
“There is only one atmosphere. “We cannot risk further harming it by taking a poorly understood shortcut to repairing the damage we have already done.” This was according to Inger Andersen, UNEP’s executive director, in a foreword to the research.
Yet there is now insufficient credible information to draw an informed conclusion.
“The review found minimal information on the hazards of SRM. Also, there is limited literature on the environmental and societal implications of these technologies,” Andersen stated.
“Even as a temporary response option, large-scale SRM deployment is plagued with scientific difficulties and ethical problems. Simply put, there isn’t enough evidence to make informed decisions.”
In addition to rigorous scientific research, the paper stated that any prospective deployment of solar-geoengineering technologies requires a globally coordinated governance framework.
But, because of its low cost — it may be deployed for as little as $20 billion for every 1 degree Celsius of cooling each year — it is “within reach” of many countries and organizations, opening the door to “rogue deployment.”
The United Nations’ Efforts
According to the research, the United Nations may be a leader in global talks about solar geoengineering. They warn that the lack of international cooperation and governance could be disastrous.
“One may assume that there would never be general unanimity in the broader society on an SRM deployment. This means that communities, nations, and civilizations opposed to SRM deployment will be subjected to its impacts against their will. This poses ethical and legal concerns,” according to the report.
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Things To Keep In Mind
Global warming can have a variety of repercussions for people all over the world. Among the most significant effects are:
 Health consequences: Global warming can worsen air pollution. It increases the incidence and intensity of heat waves. Also, it contributes to the spread of diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and ticks.
All of these factors can have a substantial impact on human health. These especially in vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, and persons with pre-existing medical disorders.
 Food and water security: Variations in temperature and precipitation patterns can affect crop yields and water availability, possibly leading to food and water shortages in some areas.
This can have serious consequences for the health and well-being of people who rely on agriculture and fishing for a living.
 Economic consequences: Global warming has the potential to cause major economic losses, particularly in areas such as agriculture, forestry, and tourism. This can have a knock-on effect throughout the economy, potentially resulting in job losses and limited economic possibilities for some people.
 Population displacement and migration: When sea levels rise and extreme weather events become more regular, some communities may be compelled to flee in order to avoid flooding or other climate-related disasters. This can have serious social, economic, and political consequences, especially for those who are already marginalized or living in poverty.