Using technology to soften the effects of climate change may soon become a reality. Geological engineers who believe technology can be harnessed to help stop global warming are beginning to move their experiments out of the laboratory.
Seeding clouds with tiny salt particles, for example, would increase the number of water droplets the clouds could contain, helping to make them brighter. And brighter clouds would reflect more sunlight back into the atmosphere, allowing the Earth to cool slightly.
There are still technological obstacles to the idea. For the cloud seeding project, a sprayer is needed that can create particles “a ten-thousandth of a millimetre in diameter at a rate of 1,000 trillion a second.” Technology, however, may not be the ultimate stumbling block of geoengineering projects.
“Cloud-brightening on the scale imagined requires less than a liter of seawater a second.”
Whether humans intentionally tamper with the climate will depend on sufficient oversight programs to make sure the research is carried out in a regulated manner.
In his Big Think interview, Bill Chameides, dean of Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, says plans for humans to control the global climate are premature. One danger is that if we successfully counteract warming, governments will have less incentive to limit carbon emissions: