Could geoengineering save the planet?

And there have already been many small trials to put iron in the ocean – and more are planned. This fertilizes the waters, increasing the growth of microscopic sea plants. Just as growing more trees on earth sucks CO2 out of the atmosphere, so would growing more plants in the oceans.

Geoengineering sounds crazy: who would meddle and endanger our one and only precious planet? We would, and we already are in many ways. Our global pollution and landscape changes are, in effect, reorganizing the earth – just in an uncontrolled way. Geoengineers just want to take control.

Atmospheric researchers hope to find ways to block enough sunlight to cause significant cooling.

But here’s the catch. Even if geoengineering could save the planet, would anyone actually do it? As soon as a group of scientists took charge of the global climate, they would be held accountable. And if they make mistakes, they will be responsible for them.

This is the same problem faced by doctors on flights when there has been a medical incident. Many hesitate to speak up when they hear the words “Is there a doctor on board?” because once they stepped in, they took responsibility. If things don’t work out, they could be sued.

Who will take responsibility if the geoengineers are wrong?  Snow on a beach in Toronto, 2017.

Who will take responsibility if the geoengineers are wrong? Snow on a beach in Toronto, 2017.Credit:PA

In their geoengineering calculations, what if the scientists missed something? Or what if they inadvertently decrease, say, rainfall in one country and increase it in another? And who would be making these global geoengineering decisions anyway? Granted, all countries would have to agree before anything is done – but getting the world to agree on anything to do with the climate has been nearly impossible so far.

Unfortunately, we cannot rely on the geo-engineers to save the day with a quick fix; there is no alternative to the development of hard construction sites to quickly reduce our emissions.

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