A report on Climate Change, mandated by Congress, has been published on the official website of the White House. This document discusses Solar Radiation Modification (SRM), which refers to potential methods of obstructing or redirecting sunlight away from the Earth as a means to promote cooling and address climate change. SRM is a type of “geoengineering” that involves manipulating the Earth’s natural systems on a large scale.
The report highlights several important considerations regarding SRM. Scientists have observed that volcanic eruptions create a barrier of smoke and ash that blocks heat from the sun, and they believe that a process known as Stratospheric Aerosol Injection could replicate this effect. Another approach mentioned is marine cloud brightening, which aims to enhance the reflectivity of specific clouds in order to prevent sunlight from reaching the Earth’s surface. Theoretically, SRM has the potential to rapidly achieve significant cooling for the planet.
Additionally, the report emphasizes the numerous risks associated with these methods, suggesting that they should be viewed as a final resort for cooling the Earth if all other measures prove ineffective. Scientists must carefully evaluate the potential hazards of employing SRM, including its impact on human health and biodiversity. The act of blocking sunlight could lead to disruptions in the food supply chain as well.
Further investigation is required to ascertain the precise extent of the known and unknown hazards associated with SRM. Scientists require additional data to determine whether the risks involved in employing SRM outweigh the ongoing advancements in addressing the existing climate challenges. The report does not delve into alternative space-based solutions, as geoengineering is deemed less complex and more feasible to implement.
The White House released a statement in conjunction with the report, clarifying that there are presently no intentions for an all-encompassing research initiative focused on SRM or geoengineering.