The Atlantic’s Robinson Meyer has a slightly unnerving but mostly fascinating story today about an off-the-record geoengineering conference and the growing belief among scientists that we might have to physically alter our own atmosphere to slow the impacts of global warming. “It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when someone will pull the trigger,” one scientist told Meyer, referring to the idea that humans should solve climate change by blocking some sunlight from entering the earth’s lower atmosphere by spraying a reflective gas into the sky.
The scientists who think this is a good idea clearly have not seen the dystopian sci-fi film Snowpiercer—or, if they have, they don’t think the technique will accidentally create a doomsday Ice Age that forces the world’s population onto a moving train where cars are sorted by social class. In any case, Meyer reports, the idea is gaining traction under the Trump administration. As it becomes less likely that America will implement policies to slow global warming over the long-term, it’s becoming more likely that humanity will need a short-term solution once climate change’s worst impacts begin to materialize. Geoengineering happens to be one of the only options that could immediately change the temperature of the earth.
Putting aside the risks and merits of geoengineering—I’ll leave that to Meyer’s piece—it’s undoubtedly an extreme response to global warming. But it may be unavoidable unless the political party in power contributes to the effort to find a more realistic solution to climate change.