What is solar geoengineering?
While efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions are the first line of defense against climate change, some researchers are exploring possible additional options to reduce the many risks posed by global warming. Solar geoengineering strategies are designed to cool Earth either by adding small reflective particles to the upper atmosphere, by increasing reflective cloud cover in the lower atmosphere, or by thinning high-altitude clouds that can absorb heat. While such strategies have the potential to reduce global or regional temperatures, they could also introduce an array of unknown or negative consequences.
Solar Geoengineering Research and Research Governance
The new report Reflecting Sunlight: Recommendations for Solar Geoengineering Research and Research Governance, published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, suggests that the United States should develop a transdisciplinary research program — in collaboration with other nations — to advance understanding of solar geoengineering’s potential feasibility, effectiveness, and possible impacts on society and the environment, and to better understand critical social dimensions such as public perceptions, and ethical and equity considerations. The program should operate under robust research governance that includes elements such as a research code of conduct, a public registry for research, permitting systems for outdoor experiments, guidance on intellectual property, and inclusive public and stakeholder engagement processes.