Thermal geoengineering trials must exercise caution

Context- The article discusses the potential solution of solar geo-engineering as a means to combat the
adverse effects of climate change.
What are the recent evidences of the adverse effects of climate change?
Extreme weather events were seen in New York, California, Hong Kong, Europe, and China. It
underscores the changing climate and weather patterns. Some of such event are
1) Record-breaking rainfall happened at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.
2) Xinjiang in China recorded its highest temperatures yet.
3) Wildfires in Canada burnt over 40 million acres of forest.
What is Solar geo-engineering?

  • Solar geo-engineering, a process that increases the reflectivity of the upper atmosphere to
    deflect sun rays, is presented as a potential solution.
  • This method involves releasing sulphur dioxide into the upper atmosphere, which forms
    suspended droplets that act as tiny mirrors, reflecting sun rays back into space.
    What are the advantages of Solar geo-engineering?
  • The process is cost-effective, with an estimated cost of $18 billion a year for each degree of
    cooling achieved.
  • Whereas, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to achieve similar cooling effects will
    require much more money.
    What are the possible implications?
  • First, while solar geo-engineering might cool down tropical zones, it could lead to a temperature
    increase around the poles, accelerating the melting of permafrost and sea ice.
  • Second, Geo-engineering could also potentially impact monsoon patterns in different regions.
  • Third, given the ease of implementing solar geo-engineering, there’s a risk of uncoordinated
    efforts by countries or even private entities. It could have unforeseen consequences on global
    weather patterns.
  • For example, recently a private company named Make Sunsets used balloons to release sulphur
    dioxide gas, into the atmosphere.
    What should be done?
  • Before adopting geo-engineering solutions, it’s crucial to thoroughly evaluate both the direct
    and unintended consequences.
  • Coordinated efforts are essential to ensure that such interventions don’t lead to further
    complications in the global weather system.