From Watts Up With That?
With the release of the latest report by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the specter of solar radiation modification, or solar geoengineering, once again looms large. This report was mandated by Congress, the intent of which is to identify:
“critical knowledge gaps and scopes potential research areas that could improve understanding of risks and benefits posed by solar radiation modification.”https://www.whitehouse.gov/ostp/news-updates/2023/06/30/congressionally-mandated-report-on-solar-radiation-modification/
It is clear that this is simply another reflection of an overzealous approach to climate change.
The OSTP emphasizes that the report does not imply a policy change. The Biden-Harris Administration remains focused on reducing emissions and other traditional climate-related endeavors. Yet the mere investigation into solar radiation modification seems to signal a perceived need for dramatic intervention – a conclusion that is clearly not warranted.
To begin, the report acknowledges that:
“substantial knowledge gaps and uncertainties exist in many critical areas.”https://www.whitehouse.gov/ostp/news-updates/2023/06/30/congressionally-mandated-report-on-solar-radiation-modification/
This is telling. Even as this radical solution is contemplated, there are acknowledged significant gaps in our understanding of the climate and our ability to manipulate it on such a massive scale.
Furthermore, the report’s outlined research areas, such as determining climate and environmental impacts of solar radiation modification deployment and assessing potential societal outcomes and ecological consequences, underscore the speculative and uncertain nature of such drastic measures.
On top of this, it is worth noting that the current climate change narrative is driven largely by predictions based on Climate Models. Despite the aura of certainty that often surrounds these models they have been running hot for decades.
The decision to explore dramatic measures like solar radiation modification is more of the same type of ready, fire, aim, policy we’ve been seeing by ideologues. Given the uncertainties and knowledge gaps, our efforts would be better spent on understanding our climate more fully before contemplating such drastic steps.
Interestingly, the report also suggests “examining how research might be done in cooperation among international partners.” This raises another concern: the global politics of climate change. If we rush into solar radiation modification, who would control it? How would it be regulated? These are complex questions that we are ill-equipped to answer at this stage.
In sum, while the climate is always changing, the narrative of imminent catastrophe that is prompting discussions of radical solutions like solar radiation modification needs a serious reevaluation. We should be wary of fear-based science and ensure that our actions, whether in terms of policy or research, are driven by solid empirical evidence and understanding.