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A small group of elite engineers, billionaires and former climate deniers are trying to distract us from real climate solutions, with dangerous technologies to “geoengineer” the Earth’s oceans, lands and atmosphere. They want to continue to pollute and profit, while threatening adverse impacts from both climate change and dangerous techno-interventions.


What is geoengineering?

  • Geoengineering is a dangerous distraction that claims to address the symptoms of the climate crisis, yet ignores its root causes, and enables them to continue.

  • It refers to large-scale schemes for intervention in the Earth’s oceans, soils and atmosphere with the aim of reducing the effects of climate change, usually temporarily.

  • Most support for geoengineering comes from a small group of elite engineers, and a handful of billionaires, joined by right wing politicians and many former climate deniers.


Dangerous interventions in the Earth’s systems

  • Geoengineering proposals include:

    • Blocking the sun through “solar radiation management”– e.g. reflecting sunlight back into space by orbiting mirrors, spraying tonnes of sulphates into the stratosphere, or modifying clouds, plants and ice to make them reflect more sunlight.

    • Sucking CO2 out of the air through “carbon dioxide removal” – e.g. seeding the ocean with iron pellets to create plankton blooms; planting huge areas with trees to burn and then store CO2 in old oil wells (known as Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage or BECCS); or creating forests of mechanical “artificial trees”.

    • Sending heat back into space through “Earth radiation management”– e.g. thinning clouds.


There are multiple reasons to oppose geoengineering

  • It doesn’t work– none of the technologies have a track record, all of them come with major risks and unknowns, and in some cases their effects would obviously be catastrophic.

  • Weaponization– interventions can have regional winners and losers; to the extent it changes climate patterns in a predictable way, geoengineering will almost certainly be weaponized.

  • Human rights and biodiversity– many geoengineering proposals require the intensive exploitation of vast amounts of land, displacing millions of people and destroying ecosystems.

  • Detracts from real solutions– by promising a quick fix, geoengineering threatens to delay the implementation of a transition away from fossil fuels, and could redirect funding and investments away from real climate solutions. Some would require vast amounts of energy.


We must focus on real solutions

  • Geoengineering does nothing to address the root causes of climate change, and would likely make things worse—potentially in catastrophically ways.

  • It is mainly supported by those who caused the climate crisis, presumably to enable a continuation or even expansion expansion of fossil fuel based systems, and who may also be profiting from geoengineering – risking a worsening climate crisis, and adverse geoengineering impacts. 

  • Geoengineering is also promoted by some climate actors who are alarmed by the climate crisis and believe geoengineering must be considered despite its enormous risks - and generally do not believe that transformative action is possible or likely. 

  • The growing climate justice movements must unequivocally show that geo-engineering is unacceptable and that real transformative actions are not only possible, but are the only way forward.

  • Rather than techno-fixes, natural solutions such as ecological restoration are available to remove carbon from the atmosphere. And 100% renewable energy, agro-ecology, sustainable transportation, non-market approaches, technology sharing, and many other real solutions are just, feasible and essential. 


For more information see: 
Geoengineering Monitor
ETC Group

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