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Our Axios Voices conversation on geoengineering.

There may come a time where it would be immoral not to intervene to stop the Earth's temperature from rising. But engineering the climate by injecting particles into the stratosphere to reflect the sun's light is ambitious and risky. Before we do this, it would be important to know that the cure is not worse than the disease.

How to test the unknowns: The Earth system is complex. A path forward might include a series of experiments, with appropriate governance, that start at a very small (meter, kilogram) scale. Early work should not perturb the climate but rather teach us about, for example, potential chemical effects of injection.

Big questions: How are the benefits and costs balanced, economically, socially and morally? If rainfall increases in the Sahel but reduces in the Amazon, what do we do to compensate for those differences? These technologies could affect the most vulnerable, who are also likely to be the least culpable. How do we protect them?

Bottom line: One thing is clear, there is no rapid path back to pre-industrial equilibrium. If we do attempt to take control of the Earth's climate, we'll need to be more mindful, altruistic and empathetic as a species than we've been to date.

Other voices in the conversation:

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 2: Barbarians at the Oval

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 2: Trump stops buying what his professional staff are telling him, and increasingly turns to radical voices telling him what he wants to hear. Read episode 1.

President Trump plunked down in an armchair in the White House residence, still dressed from his golf game — navy fleece, black pants, white MAGA cap. It was Saturday, Nov. 7. The networks had just called the election for Joe Biden.

Fringe right plots new attacks out of sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Domestic extremists are using obscure and private corners of the internet to plot new attacks ahead of Inauguration Day. Their plans are also hidden in plain sight, buried in podcasts and online video platforms.

Why it matters: Because law enforcement was caught flat-footed during last week's Capitol siege, researchers and intelligence agencies are paying more attention to online threats that could turn into real-world violence.

Kids’ screen time up 50% during pandemic

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

When the coronavirus lockdowns started in March, kidstech firm SuperAwesome found that screen time was up 50%. Nearly a year later, that percentage hasn't budged, according to new figures from the firm.

Why it matters: For most parents, pre-pandemic expectations around screen time are no longer realistic. The concern now has shifted from the number of hours in front of screens to the quality of screen time.