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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: June 2019

2 - Climate Change and Solar Geoengineering


Solar geoengineering is being considered and researched as a potential response to anthropogenic climate change. After exploring the causes and risks of climate change and other responses to it, this chapter describes solar geoengineering’s history and proposed methods, including stratospheric aerosol injection, marine cloud brightening, and cirrus cloud thinning. The current evidence regarding their potential capabilities, costs, and technical feasibility is presented. Evidence from models and natural analogs indicates that a moderate deployment of solar geoengineering would globally reduce climate change. It also appears to be technically feasible, rapid in its effects, inexpensive in its direct deployment costs, and reversible. Among solar geoengineering’s physical risks are imperfect compensation of climatic changes and consequent residual climatic anomalies, delayed recovery of stratospheric ozone, and irresolvable uncertainty. Social challenges include decision-making regarding deployment, problematic uni- or minilateral implementation, strained international relations, displacement of emissions abatement, biased future decision-making, and disagreement regarding ethics.