May 18, 2017

We asked five experts about engineering the climate

Rebecca Zisser / Axios

In the face of rising global temperatures, deploying technologies to change Earth's climate has gone from thought experiment to reality. We already capture carbon and store it underground. Now some researchers are suggesting we should spray the clouds with particles to reflect sunlight, fertilize the oceans to promote carbon-absorbing plankton growth, or build a gigantic shade that orbits Earth and opens as needed to shield the planet from the sun. Welcome to the Anthropocene — the era of humans engineering the world in unprecedented ways.

What do we need to know before someone pushes start on a large-scale geoengineering attempt? And what Earth-altering experiment should we try first?

Five leading researchers answered those questions and gave us their take on the risks, as well as the thorny ethical and legal issues that come with unleashing a technology that could span countries, cultures, and generations.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 659,367 — Total deaths: 30,475 — Total recoveries: 139,304.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 121,117 — Total deaths: 2,010 — Total recoveries: 961.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump is considering a quarantine on New York, parts of New Jersey and Connecticut.
  4. State updates: Alaska is latest state to issue a stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month and has moved its presidential primary to June 23. Some Midwestern swing voters that supported Trump's handling of the virus less than two weeks ago are now balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter.
  5. World updates: In Spain, over 1,400 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. Hollywood: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have returned to U.S. after being treated for coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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U.S. coronavirus deaths top 2,000

Nurses in masks, goggles, gloves, and protective gowns at Penn State Health St. Joseph conduct drive-thru coronavirus testing in Bern Township, Pennsylvania on March 27. Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

More than 2,000 people have died from the novel coronavirus in the U.S. as of Saturday, per data from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Why it matters: Recorded deaths in the U.S. surpassed 1,000 two days ago. The U.S. has the most COVID-19 cases in the world, exceeding China and Italy.

Go deeper: Trump weighs quarantine of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut

Infant dies after testing positive for coronavirus in Chicago

Hospital staff working inside a COVID-19 screening tent in Chicago on March 26. Photo: Jim Vondruska/NurPhoto via Getty Images

An infant less than one year old died in Chicago, Illinois after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, the state health department said on Saturday.

Why it matters: The death would mark the first reported infant mortality from COVID-19 in the U.S. The fatality rate for the novel coronavirus in the U.S. is highest among those over 85 years old, per the CDC.

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