The US government is developing a solar geotechnical research plan

The move, which has not been previously reported, marks the first US federal effort of its kind. It could pave the way for more funding and research into the feasibility, benefits, and risks of such interventions. This effort may also contribute to the perception that geoengineering is an appropriate and important area of ​​study as global temperatures rise.

Solar geoengineering includes a wide range of different approaches. That is get the most attention are using airplanes or balloons to disperse small particles in the stratosphere. These would then – in theory – reflect back enough sunlight to moderate warming, mimicking the effects of past large volcanic eruptions. Several research groups have also investigated whether the release of certain particles can break the cirrus cloudsretain heat to the Earth, or create low sea clouds more reflective.

2022 act of federal appropriationsigned by President Biden in March, directs his Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop an interagency group to coordinate research on such climate interventions, in partnership with NASA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Department of Energy.

The measure calls for the group to create a research framework to “provide guidance on transparency, engagement and risk management for publicly funded work in solar geotechnical research.” . Specifically, it directs NOAA to assist the Office of Science and Technology Policy in developing a five-year plan that, among other things, identifies research objectives for the field, assesses the potential risks of such climate interventions and assess the federal level. the investments required to do so.

Geoengineering has long been a taboo topic among scientists, and some debate it will still be one. There are questions about potential adverse effects on the environment and concerns that the effects will be felt unevenly in different parts of the globe. It is not clear how the world will face the conundrums related to global governance, including who will make the decisions about whether to deploy such powerful tools and how hot they will be. the global average we should be aiming for. Some people feel that geoengineering is too dangerous to ever try or even investigate, arguing that just talking about the possibility can justify the need to address the underlying causes of climate change. feel less urgent.

But as the threat of climate change grows and major countries fail to make rapid progress on emissions, an increasing number of researchers, universities and ethnic are seriously exploring the potential implications of these approaches. In turn, some prominent scientific groups have called for stricter standards to guide that work, more money to do it, or both. That includes the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, last year encourage establish a US solar geotechnical research program with an initial investment of $100 million to $200 million over five years.

Advocates of geoengineering research, while stressing that cutting emissions must remain a priority, said that we should explore these possibilities because they can significantly reduce the risks of climate change. They note that as heat waves, droughts, famines, wildfires and other extremes become more common or more severe, these types of climate interventions could be one of the few. available means to rapidly alleviate human suffering or large-scale ecological disasters.

Setting standards

In a statement, the Office of Science and Technology Policy confirmed that it has formed an interdisciplinary working group, as called for under the federal funding bill. It includes representatives from 10 research and mission agencies, including NOAA, NASA and the Department of Energy.

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