By Sara Schonhardt
Concern grows over rich nations controlling sunlight
Radical climate interventions — like blocking the sun’s rays — could alter the world’s weather patterns, potentially benefiting some regions of the world and harming others.
That possibility, climate scientists say, means any research on such methods must consider those risks and involve the countries that already bear the greatest impacts from a warming planet.
“If you’re actually talking about actively deploying technologies to alter the climate, then you need to engage all of us in the discussion,” said Andrea Hinwood, chief scientist at the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi, Kenya. “And that means those who are the most vulnerable to these effects need to be able to have a say.”
The push for inclusive research comes alongside growing interest — and debate — over solar radiation management, a little understood way to avoid catastrophic climate change by injecting sunlight-blocking particles into the stratosphere or changing the density of clouds.
Climate scientists are, by and large, wary of such intervention. While limiting the amount of sunlight that reaches the Earth could rapidly cool the planet, they say, such efforts wouldn’t address ocean acidification and other harms associated with burning fossil fuels, the primary cause of global warming.
It’s also unclear how solar radiation management, or SRM, would affect global weather patterns, such as the monsoon rains that are crucial in some regions of the Global South. While it could ease climate impacts in one area of the world, SRM might reduce crop yields or threaten water supplies in another area.