Even though geoengineering programs are dangerous, their importance is being emphasized by the scientists due to the problem of climate change.
In general, geoengineering technologies are categorized as either a carbon dioxide removal (CDR) method or a solar radiation management (SRM) method. CDR methods address the warming effects of greenhouse gases by removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. CDR methods include ocean fertilization, and carbon capture and sequestration. SRM methods address climate change by increasing the reflectivity of the Earth’s atmosphere or surface.
Aerosol injection and space-based reflectors are examples of SRM methods. SRM methods do not remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, but can be deployed faster with relatively immediate global cooling results compared to CDR methods.
Several of the world’s leading climate scientists wrote a letter which carries eleven signatures including professors Peter Wadhams and Stephen Salter, of the universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh, warns that the Paris Agreement is dangerously inadequate.
Ironically, the promotion of geoengineering might actually cause more harm than good, including an increase in droughts. In February 2015, an international committee of scientists released a report stating that geoengineering techniques are not a viable alternative to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to combat the effects of climate change. The committee report called for further research and understanding of various geoengineering techniques, including carbon dioxide removal schemes and solar-radiation management before implementation.
The scientists found that Solar Radiation Management, or albedo-modification techniques, are likely to present “serious known and possible unknown environmental, social, and political risks, including the possibility of being deployed unilaterally.” The report was sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. intelligence community, NASA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Department of Energy.
According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, if geoengineering programs were started and then suddenly halted, the planet could see an immediate rise in temperatures, particularly over land. The study, titled, “The Impact of Abrupt Suspension of Solar Radiation Management,” seems to indicate that once geoengineering begins, the programs cannot be suspended without causing the very problem the engineering was intended to solve.
Even with these dangers well known, the letter from the climate scientists still calls for geoengineering.
The dangers associated with geoengineering are not the only controversy. There also exists questions over whether geoengineering programs are already active. This is what is derogatorily called the “Chemtrails Conspiracy.” Essentially, some believe geoengineering is actively taking place in our skies, and the “contrails” are actually geoengineering programs covertly being carried out. The “chemtrails” label comes from the portion of the crowd that believes these programs are delivering dangerous chemical additives to the food, water, soil, and humans below for nefarious purposes.
Regardless of where you stand, it’s important to know the United States government has a history of weather modification. In a 1996 document entitled “Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather by 2025,” the U.S. Air Force discussed a number of proposals for using weather as a weapon. The Environmental Modification Treaty was signed by the United States and other nations to halt global weather modification.
But the government did not simply research these ideas. It actually implemented them — prior to its official musings on whether it could. During the Vietnam War, the U.S. government operated covert weather modification programs under Operation Popeye. The government does not only experiment with technology in foreign countries; it likes to try it at home, as well. In 2012, it was revealed that the U.S. Army sprayed toxic chemicals over the skies of St. Louis without informing the public.
Anti-Media also recently reported on Professor Alan Robock’s theory that the Central Intelligence Agency is using the weather as a weapon of war.
So are geoengineering programs already active? If they are active, the current calls for geoengineering the climate might be an attempt at quietly revealing the existence of such programs under the auspices of fighting climate change. If the programs are not active the science of geoengineering still represents a dangerous, unpredictable technology.