May 18, 2017
Expert Voices

Talking about geoengineering is a distraction

Our Axios Voices conversation on geoengineering.

The Paris climate agreement and some nations, including the U.S, recognize certain geoengineering projects as potentially legitimate, but the legal status of technologies to deflect the sun's radiation is wholly undefined despite carrying geopolitical and moral risks.

Why it matters: Solar radiation management, in which the sun's light is reflected by mirrors or particles deployed in the atmosphere, could have terrible environmental and societal consequences. It could be weaponized and lead to conflict between nations. Even if the risks are overblown, merely talking about and conducting research into geoengineering may weaken support for limiting emissions via renewable energy and conservation, methods we know work. When geoengineering is presented to people as a potential solution to climate change, their support for mitigation measures falls.

Bottom line: We need responsible communication. Even if solar radiation management never becomes a physical reality, how it is portrayed by scientists, governments, and corporations could have a profound effect on how the world addresses climate change.

Other voices in the conversation:

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