Can Geoengineering Help with Climate Change?

Geoengineering is the large-scale modification of the Earth’s systems to address climate change. It includes a range of speculative approaches to change the Earth’s radiative balance through solar radiation management or by extraction of greenhouse gases directly from the atmosphere – strategies that may pose both benefits and risks.

Geoengineering has never been tested beyond a limited pilot scale, raising uncertainty about the cost, effectiveness and indirect impacts of these technologies. The approaches have profound risks of negative impacts to the ozone layer, regional precipitation patterns, ecosystems, agriculture and the global climate. Along with ethical and distributional concerns, there are also challenges related to discouraging mitigation, international governance and the risk of international conflict. However, if the cost is low and the effectiveness is high, then geoengineering may be a necessary component of a climate change risk management portfolio that keeps impacts below dangerous levels.

Decisions on the Risks and Benefits of Geoengineering

Team website by Ari Bechtel, Matthew Brune, Elliott Davis, Andrew Frank, Rosanne Lam, Mengfan Li, Qingqi Li, Sergio Macias-Vazquez, Kevin Peng, Sam Pollan, Peter Polonsky Jr., Rohan Rajan, Harshvardhan Sanghi, Natasha Von Seelen and Megan Wang

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The team website distills many of the lessons that our team took from researching the risks and potential benefits of geoengineering over the past year. Our three products are included here as well:

  1. an article on Marine Cloud Brightening and its potential to address concerns about threats to the Great Barrier Reef,
  2. two editorials on the potential for carbon dioxide removal here in the Triangle and for the state of North Carolina more generally
  3. a series of three podcasts ("Operation Climate") that bring the issues of geoengineering to a wider audience and through a different medium.
Could Trees Be the Low-hanging Fruit of Climate Action?

Editorial by Elliott Davis and Ari Bechtel

Trees in the Triangle: Good for Climate Action and Much More

Editorial by Andrew Frank and Peter Polonsky Jr.

Next, Let’s Flatten the Curve of Climate Change

Article by Mengfan Li, Kevin Peng, Rohan Rajan, Harshvardhan Sanghi and Megan Wang

Operation Climate

Podcast series by Matthew Brune, Rosanne Lam, Katherine Li, Sergio Macias-Vazquez and Natasha von Seelen