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Climate Engineering: Solution or Disaster?
Now that Copenhagen has revealed just how difficult it will be to create a global plan to address climate change, discussions about climate engineering (also called geoengineering) are becoming louder and more frequent. Geoengineering focuses on ways to intentionally modify the atmosphere to address the symptoms of climate change, rather than trying to address its causes.

Ideas for geoengineering range from putting trillions of tiny mirrors into orbit to painting every building’s roof white to reflect the sun’s rays. Adding aerosolized sulfates to the stratosphere and squirting huge fountains of seawater skyward to create clouds that deflect sunshine are the two tactics getting the most press.

Those in favor of geoengineering say that it will be easier to modify the weather than to convince people to modify their behavior. Proponents assert that proposed tactics mimic natural phenomena like ash clouds from volcanic eruptions that cause significant temperature drops. Further, some believe that geoengineering is the only option because there is not enough time left to address the causes of climate change.

Those opposed to geoengineering say it is a huge experiment that puts the planet at risk. There are bound to be unintended consequences of tinkering with the atmosphere---anything from droughts to wars if nations impact each other’s weather. They fear that those side effects could be worse than the symptoms that were cured.

We should think about...
  • What is our opinion of geoengineering? Should we participate in the debate?
  • What are the consequences for our business if weather patterns are intentionally changed to cool the globe?
Sources: Chicago Tribune 2009;, 2009; Mother Jones 2009; 2009
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