Global temperatures are likely to rise over the next 30 to 40 years no matter what we do. One way to mitigate those short-term risks is to seed the atmosphere with particles that reflect back some sunlight. Talk with an advocate for solar radiation management (SRM) about what we know about it and where we need more research.
I frequently think about your interview with Dr. Ye Tao about the MEER Project. Why isn’t it getting more attention?
If he’s right, we are severely limited by resource constraints from “just” building our way out of the hole. At the same time, SRM is scary because of the irreversibility, though the aerosol effect would be foolish to ignore. By being (more) reversible and having clear local benefits, MEER seems to thread multiple needles.
It’s a bit crazy-making. Would really appreciate your honest impression of it, Dave!
Just listened to this-great conversation...but it also strikes me that this is linear model thinking. Just fund basic science and we'll arrive at the right decisions. Odd to say that this is all about a near-term risk and the way to go about it is to do basic research...no?
Thank you for a thought-provoking interview. I was disappointed that you did not ask your guest to address the potential risks of SRM. It also gave me pause that she gave a shout out to Amazon (Jeff Bezos) as a "partner"
Great although disturbing interview. One thing you didn’t talk about is whether the research should also focus on the optimal level of particulates so we can calibrate the decreases from electrification. Optimistically, as Mark said forest fires, laggards, wars etc will balance it out. I can’t really imagine that we’ll be so successful at reduction that we’ll need to put more junk in the atmosphere. It did show how much more humans need to find out! Hmmm
Here's my hypothesis: the lag we will see from the time we reduce carbon emissions to the time we see a mitigating effect on the climate will be coincident with an increase in forest fire frequency and magnitude, which will contribute particulates to the atmosphere on a large enough scale to at least partially offset the effect of the reduced anthropogenic emissions.
This is probably our best hope, because SRM involving injecting chemicals into the upper atmosphere from a fleet of aircraft will result in a catastrophic terrorist attack. This is a certainty. We have people freaked out by "chem trails." This would be on a whole other level.
You should interview Frank Biermann, well known Earth System Governance political scientist from Utrecht U. He lead a call for an International Non-Use Agreement on Solar Geoengineering. https://www.solargeoeng.org/
One question on SRM that I did not hear addressed in your discussion is the effect on crop yields of a reduction in an amount of 1% of solar radiation. As an Agricultural Engineer, this is a major question that I have. Even if the effects are regionalized to higher latitudes, it seems that we would be disproportionately altering ecosystems and economic opportunity in Southern Africa and Patagonia; Scandinavia, Finland, Alaska, Siberia, and Canada. I understand that one of the premises of your discussion was that SRM would merely replace the current uncontrolled experiment with controlled releases, but fossil fuels have only been in major use for a couple of hundred years, while the ecosystems developed over tens or hundreds of millennia.