GRI Director of Strategic Relationships, Jennie Stephens, was one of the contributors alongside her co-author, Kevin Surprise, that was included in the new e-book “Resilience Matters: Opportunities for Action to Strengthen Communities.“ Jennie’s work in this publication can be found on Section 1, Page 13, and focuses on how solar geoengineering, a controversial proposed set of technologies that could potentially cool the planet by reflecting the sun’s rays back to space.
As this proposed form of technology has been labeled controversial the idea of bringing it to fruition was always on the fringes of climate policy. But with the recent release of a report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) that recommends hundreds of millions of dollars be invested to establish a U.S. solar geoengineering research program, this dangerous approach is now being more seriously considered by some decision-makers. The U.S. government should not support solar geoengineering research, because advancing this climate intervention increases, rather than decreases, risks to humanity by distracting from and avoiding necessary systemic changes and enabling control of the climate system to rest in the hands of a few wealthy governments and other global elites.
One basic problem with advancing solar geoengineering research is that any attempts to manipulate incoming solar radiation will have unequal and unpredictable global impacts on agriculture, the hydrological cycle, weather patterns, and the monsoon systems. This means there is no way to deploy solar geoengineering without having disparate and uncertain impacts on food and water availability in communities around the world. Proponents of solar geoengineering research argue that more research is needed to better understand these impacts, and they suggest that it is possible that solar geoengineering could reduce food and water scarcity caused by climate change.
Rather than invest in this potentially dangerous technological fix that detracts from other transformative solutions, the U.S. government should expand its investments in reducing fossil fuel reliance and provide direct support to communities most vulnerable to climate disruptions. Climate change is a dire crisis that requires centering social justice, human rights, and public health to strive toward a more just, equitable, and prosperous future for all. Engineering the world to fit the needs of the polluter elite will never achieve that goal.