We’re about to test out hacking the Earth’s climate. That should scare and inspire you.
With the U.S. backsliding on climate progress under President Donald Trump, and scientists issuing increasingly dire warnings about the quickening pace and sweeping impacts of global warming, the possibility that we can somehow engineer our way out of the climate crisis is becoming a more attractive option.
Geoengineering, which refers to taking steps to deliberately alter the planet’s climate, is the most controversial of all climate solutions. In fact, it’s not even a solution, since it doesn’t actually solve the problem so much as mask it, like a fever reducer that fails to defeat the underlying infection.
Pursuing geoengineering research, let alone deploying field tests, has been met with a mix of hand-wringing and panic, with even proponents noting the ethical, moral, physical, and monetary perils involved with such plans. While such concerns still exist, scientists are now forging ahead with the largest-ever geoengineering research program.