Climate change technology: is shading the earth too risky? | The Economist

If the world is getting too hot, why not give it some shade? Solar geoengineering could halt global warming, but there are risks to this controversial technology.

00:00 - Is solar geoengineering worth the risks?
00:41 - On the frontline of climate change
01:40 - What is solar geoengineering?
02:05 - Why the Saami Council stopped a research project

03:33 - Why we need more research
05:05 - The risk of global political tension
06:12 - The risk of termination shock
07:07 - What is marine cloud brightening?
09:04 - The risk of unequal effects

View all of The Economist’s climate change coverage: https://econ.st/37suszu

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Watch our previous video on solar geoengineering: https://econ.st/3vwTTYD

Read our explainer about the IPCC’s recent report: https://econ.st/37vw77x

Listen to our podcast about whether a 1.5°C climate target is attainable: https://econ.st/3xEj1zC

How heatwaves in Europe are strengthening environmentalism: https://econ.st/3EsW2sA

Mumbai’s ambitious net-zero plan: https://econ.st/3JQ053i

Will the energy crisis spark American clean tech innovation?
https://econ.st/37o4rS9

100+ comentarios:

Perseus Arkouda
Perseus Arkouda:
A solution to a problem almost always creates another. The benefit depends on how well you manage the following consequences.
Penicillin was great but now we have to deal with super microbes.
forestfox66
forestfox66:
This technology is insane. I live in Scandinavia. We need all the rare sun we can get after such long and dark winters. I have worked on the Great Barrier Reef too. Humans and life on earth need sunlight. It drives our biological systems.
Pablo TP
Pablo TP:
As some have pointed out in the comments - we need to do more than just reduce emissions... we need all the solutions we can get our hands on. Do the research and do all the things. This is not either-or that's a false dichotomy. Too many people don't understand the scientific method. Let alone the complex geopolitical world we live in.
onlymediumsteak
onlymediumsteak:
Would have been nice if you had covered space based mirrors too. Very interesting technology that could power the space Industrie and a moon base. It also doesn’t have as many drawbacks as sulfur based approaches.
mario rossi
mario rossi:
In any case it is always amazing to see what human beings can invent
Carl Wilson
Carl Wilson:
The idea that exploring this option would inhibit progress on reducing emissions seems to assume that there is or will be such progress.
Nathi Shange
Nathi Shange:
Blocking sun rays is tantamount to imminent death, agriculture could suffer & it'll give birth to new diseases
Kalpesh Patel
Kalpesh Patel:
Lets not do any of this. Let earth evolve naturally. Even to counter the rising human population. Geo-engineering will always go sideways. Maybe a century from now, we might be able to geo-engineer the planet a bit.
Mujina Rokko
Mujina Rokko:
Heat moves from high temperature to low temperature. Shades block the energy movement, which is the same for green house gases. Ask physicists why one cools the earth and the other warms the earth.
Cape Orb Observer
Cape Orb Observer:
Marine cloud brightening seems useful and harmless but all the other ideas terribly risky.
Wu
Wu:
This is the best solution we have to survive. Shading the sun for 1, 2 hours a week would be enough
E 🌞
E 🌞 :
Why not harvest our sun's energy instead of deflecting it into space? Why not use the same amount of time, money, brain power, and human might that would be needed to develop the infrastructure needed for effective mass solar geoengineering to instead to develop efficient and profitable methods for harvesting & distributing renewable sources of energy?
Ionescu Cristian
Ionescu Cristian:
I think this last pandemic has proven the devastating effects of man monkeying with nature by radical, all-encompassing and irreversible "solutions". I've had enough. The science should be very humble and implement any man-made change gradually and only after small-size trials. A lot of things could go wrong; why risk it all on one lucky strike? I think geo-engineering is a bad idea for the wellbeing of humans.
Indo Oldguy
Indo Oldguy:
We always need something to keep going on and about. Take what we can and make the best of it. It will make ends meet in the least. And better on the upside. Life goes on
levent eren
levent eren:
We have been geo engineering for years this is BS .
English With Korica
English With Korica:
This might be the great risk according to my studies, if they are successful in creating layer to reflect back the solar radiation from above, this might be the threat to trap the heat coming from the surface of earth, that would be traped and GHGs would be accumulated caused increase of ozone.
kushal vora
kushal vora:
Solar geo engineering should be researched. Even in the best case scenario where we limit warming to 1.5 degrees and we don't need SG, we would still have a much better idea of how weather works.
wvjeepguy81
wvjeepguy81:
Remember back in the 70s when scientists were warning us all that the Earth was cooling too much?
Hope is stronger than fears
Hope is stronger than fears:
I think the best option would be to change the desert to green land and make fake rain once a week.
Stefan Popp
Stefan Popp:
Never hinder research. Forbidding it is like not teaching kids how to use knives, hoping they'll never touch one.
cgmax7
cgmax7:
I'm from Delhi temperature 45 degree... Dying with heat... A big shame on the humanity 👍
Jericho icho
Jericho icho:
I wish there are simpler and natural solution of climate change that also produce woods😑
Petra Božić
Petra Božić:
It's funny how we have the technology, for cooling temperature but they don't mention we have technology for raising temperatures as well. Interesting how it works. Create a problem and find a solution- both coming from the same source
Leo Julious
Leo Julious:
The notion of a "plan B" may put a pause to needed climate actions

Sensible ethical implications can support poor people in hot countries

Monomania perception, extend to more than just cutting emission

Solutions that focuses on alleviating a single problem can worsen the others by ramping up disputes, a global issue
Ira Straus
Ira Straus:
It's treated here as if the main question isn't, Will solar dimming help save us from excessive warming?, but, What will be the inequities involved (usually without comparing them to the inequities involved in the absence of doing it)? That is morally bankrupt. Other leaps in logic abound in this short video, too, but that one is enough to show how badly the producers' moral compass is skewed.
N Hinton
N Hinton:
We need to do it to give us time to adapt to renewables.
ArbaRetail Systems
ArbaRetail Systems:
This is the first I've ever heard of a Global shading protocol, what are some thoughts into the other possible solutions into controlling climate change?
CANAL DO TIAGO SPEED
CANAL DO TIAGO SPEED:
Engraçado como a maioria das pessoas tem a solução, mas não enchergam a solução kkkk
Todos querem um planeta com ar puro.. mas ninguém quer fazer nada para ajudar a diminuir o impacto kkkkk
Lembre-se que a redução das emissões e da destruição ambiental passa justamente por uma atitude simples de cada um.. parar de usar transportes individuais, reduzir as compras de itens industriais, evitar usar energia não renováveis. Não é fácil abrir mão das tecnologias e escolher viver sem Grandes Confortos ou de bens que consomem muitos recursos naturais em sua produção...kkk praticamente impossível..
O que se pode se esforçar é buscar viver com o menor impacto deixando de utilizar os bens que utilizam combustíveis fósseis, itens produzidos com excessiva matéria prima.
Outra possibilidade é buscar desenvolver tecnologias que não consomem recursos naturais.
♻️🌍🇧🇷🕊🔥
Diego Silan
Diego Silan:
Could man find a way to change the past to solve the pandemic and other things around the world, especially the climate.
Ion Besteliu
Ion Besteliu:
Utterly irresponsible. The fact that it is even being considered shows the extent to which our economies and societies are intoxicated by 'unlimited' growth
The SideShifter
The SideShifter:
Reducing CO2 emissions (which funnily enough are still rising by the way) doesn't solve the problem, it just slows it down. To call THAT a solution is either ignorant or hypocritical.
Daniel Speedy
Daniel Speedy:
The way I see it the Earth is getting ready to recycle itself and has done this thousands of times before with different races on this Earth and it's getting ready to do it again so don't sweat it enjoy your life while you can
Hans Meier
Hans Meier:
Great solution, they should combine it with a train that circles the earth once a year.
John Creson
John Creson:
C'mon man, you've been applying this madness for years, cause the problem first then provide the solution, game over.
Zegfeld Mobata
Zegfeld Mobata:
what about the unintended consequences we can't possibly foresee? this is a large scale global system leave it alone.
Bektas Konca
Bektas Konca:
when i watch youtube clips on problems humanity face to advance, I am filled with hope listening to people with intelligent ideas, achievements of scientist, than I watch the news and walk out of my house reality of our society hits me like a high speed train, all hopes dissepear in a flash...
Abhi Bhasme
Abhi Bhasme:
If only scientist could decide the policy.... In real world politics determines what's temporary and for how long.
Marlyn
Marlyn:
If the amount of sunlight is reduced, what effect do you think it would have on PLANTS.
Ben Gibbs
Ben Gibbs:
Once again, If this technology is to be implemented correctly a global agreement is needed to cooperate on research and testing. I believe it could be a plausible solution for hard engineering lower temperatures in the most needed areas , but only if this agreement between countries is reached, something that in the past has been difficult.
Huey Kratos
Huey Kratos:
so let me get this straight it can actually but people are getting in the way ...as usually. i think people dont understand its not suppose to be a solution but buy more time to achieve the target goals. Especially if it helps lower GDP countries the most
AS Lau
AS Lau:
Aren’t we just treating the symptom, and not addressing the root cause?
Awesome Brotherhood
Awesome Brotherhood:
TheEconomist suddenly started making (not now sudden but for some years now) documentaries that it can rival already decade established channels. Thid is Wonderful. And this is one of the very few moderately biased journalism in the world. Yet like anything in the world, accuracy might be a bit fuzzy but these are not due to intentional manipulation but unintentional blunders.
Haebris
Haebris:
Being able to heat and cool regions at will, with mirrors and sails is of course beneficial. We can keep areas between 10 and 30 degrees year around. Removes the energy needs for heaters or air conditioning.
Kat M
Kat M:
If it relies on global cooperation to be implemented, it's DOA.
Also a nitpick: reducing emissions alone won't give us 1.5 degrees target, most likely we need both (and anything else we can come up with)
Mike
Mike:
This was literally what happened in the Matrix.
joniro jonironin
joniro jonironin:
We are already doing a sort of geoengineering with countless airplanes roaming the skies. When 9/11 occurred and all planes were barred from flying in the US, it had an effect even for a short amount of time.
Pristlin Paul P
Pristlin Paul P:
these will adversely affect the weather patterns of the world like rain, snowfall,storms etc.. in a large amount.
Patrick Ward
Patrick Ward:
Simple experiment- change the lighting conditions for one of your house plants and see what happens over the next week. It will most likely either become sick or die. Seasonal anomalies are equally devastating on crops. Why would anyone think the results would be any different with geoengineering? Plants, trees, insects, fish, and animals evolve over long periods of time. Sudden changes in the environment are catastrophic. If we are wanting to depopulate the planet- geoengineering or continuing down our current polluting trajectory would be great strategies. If we want to save our species and the surviving other species on this planet- geoengineering and status quo would be the WORST plans.
David
David:
It seems kind of pointless to mist sea water. Even small waves will mist more sea water, and although that is likely how most weather patterns are created, the scale required is far beyond anything we could hope to match/control.
Neutralino
Neutralino:
Political leaders don’t give me much hope about humanity preventing the worst impacts of this.
L. Bailey Jean
L. Bailey Jean:
I remember a Saturday in L.A., a few years ago, planes building a crisscross pattern of "water vapor" in the sky. The next Sunday, a strange haze made the weather sunny, but not. It didn't look or feel right.

The sun gives needed elemental energy to biological systems, and it is worrisome to think of adding yet another layer of toxic behavior, to cover up other toxic behaviors.
Francis ETIENNE
Francis ETIENNE:
Quite impressive : a very telling video to be shared !
Eric’s ASMR
Eric’s ASMR:
Why can't humans just solve Climate Change the right way, rather than solving 1 problem with more problems. Plant trees stop deforestation clean the ocean recycle stop wasting switch to green energy. It’s not hard
Latha Pauline
Latha Pauline:
We need scientists as world leaders to protect our planet, we cannot rely on leaders who less care or don't care about the changes that harms our planet earth
Joy Walsh
Joy Walsh:
Very interesting information!
Den Bo
Den Bo:
Do we, as a species, get to vote on this? I'd rather take my chance with the sun - been around long time and is the source of all life on earth. Strikes me the same people want to turn it off are the ones creating the problem. Oh! that sounds familiar.
Mark Clemens
Mark Clemens:
I was an Economist subscriber for much of the 1990s. They spent several years questioning the science behind anthropogenic global warming, and then several more years suggesting we should adapt to a warming planet rather than reducing destructive emissions. I finally canceled my subscription in disgust. To a significant extent, the respectability of the Economist comforted the fallacious and bad-faith arguments of the fossil-fueled climate skeptics. In view of that history, I'd prefer to see the Economist disappear and these kinds of arguments moderated by an institution that doesn't have blood on its hands.
Olukayode Paul
Olukayode Paul:
Let's go back to the learning during COVID 19 global luck down which reduce industrialisation heat generated. What can we learn from the climate differentiation of this season compare to the previous period?
Off Limits
Off Limits:
The fact they are discussing this shows the severity of the situation
Rob Mann
Rob Mann:
Reminds me of conservation efforts. Organizations hyperfocused on one particular issue unable to see the big picture, and constantly bickering at the other side.
chinookvalley
chinookvalley:
I'm shocked at the number of people who have never heard of these "plans" that are already in use.
Nino A
Nino A:
doesnt animal farming account for nearly half if greenhouse gases? why not just stop eating meat and factory farming ?
Sir. SuperThunderGoodGuy MMXVI
Sir. SuperThunderGoodGuy MMXVI:
We could just, you know, lower emissions?
-Ns -
-Ns -:
Eliminate humans? Aren't we the problem? Am i missing something?
Why shall other ecosystems suffer because of us?
DH Schumann
DH Schumann:
Do it from space, with prisms, mirrors, etc, redirect heat away from the poles (freeze more), and aim them around the rest of the world, to make it 72 degrees everywhere else.
Anthony Morris
Anthony Morris:
Warming is mostly benign, manageable and a net positive for humanity. There is no crisis.
Winter
Winter:
What could possibly go wrong with Operation Dark Storm? Seriously though, I hope this isn't necessary in the future.
Rea Ality
Rea Ality:
The quickest, most effective, way to turn science into junk science is by support from politics or religion.
Terence Iutzi
Terence Iutzi:
Well we know that half of the earth's population going to starve in the coming minimum so why not shorten the suffering
S
S:
The Sun Blocker was a device developed by Charles Montgomery Burns. In the Episode Who Shot Mr. Burns?
Maurizio De Tomasi
Maurizio De Tomasi:
Also because of Chemtrails, unfortunately! :(
Rn Kn
Rn Kn:
This is hard to take seriously, when humanity hasn’t even tried to reduce carbon emissions, or seriously considered a plan for material life that is not energy intensive. In fact, we continuously promote further growth, encouraging further development, with production and consumption beyond sufficiency. And blocking the sun does not remove the carbon in the atmosphere - it temporarily masks the symptoms. And it sacrifices the oceans - which I wasn’t aware we had decided to write off as less important than quarterly returns…
Moses Alazzawi
Moses Alazzawi:
Letting Earth warm would cause much greater risks such as famine. Let me quote Ben 10: Secret of the Omnitrix.
"Ben, you don't know what you're doing!" (imagine Ben as Arctiguana cooling the Earth)
"It's better than what'll happen if I don't!"
Moth arsonist
Moth arsonist:
Even if it works it would be temporary and we would have to make quick changes
John Golv
John Golv:
How touching. As if there were hope, offered by, what else, technology. Meanwhile, the ice is melting.
Andy P
Andy P:
Theres no such thing as "Centigrade",its called Celsius!
Per Nielsen
Per Nielsen:
It is not risky: it is utterly insane...
Rugved Barde
Rugved Barde:
SO2 is another hazardous gas
Is solar geoengineering really a solution?
Rajendra Tayya
Rajendra Tayya:
Analysis is group effort - intuition is single minded.
Clapog CR
Clapog CR:
"Climate change technology: is shading the earth too risky?" No. It is ABSURD.
David Fdez
David Fdez:
We were already doing solar geoengineering with greenhouse emissions. It is just that it was unintended. We should take control of that.
Strawberry Fields
Strawberry Fields:
People need to learn that "better never means better for everyone. It always means worse for some." We have to stop trying to please every single person on the planet.

TLDR who gives a F about the Saami people when you're talking about saving billions of people.
Irene
Irene:
Why so much deceit? Geoengineering has been going on for years, I discovered the criss-crossed skies in 2014 and connected the dots. It's been the longest eight years of my life trying to wake people up to these atrocities on earth's atmosphere which has almost completely decimated the ozone.
PK Johnson
PK Johnson:
We have had cooler then normal temps in AR. If you look at the real temperature map you will see massive amounts of cooler weather.
The white on their map is the cooler temp---- they hide the blue by whiting it out.
Doug Acosta
Doug Acosta:
Solar geo engineering is like bending over backwards to touch our toes. Nuclear power is more implementable, proven and understood.
roro213
roro213:
Couldn't this actually cause a greenhouse effect long term? Simply dimming the sun will not cool the earth unless all of that excess light is reflected out (without any being reflected back in). Not sure how you would achieve one-way reflection - the infra red light hitting reflecting off the earth's surface and being bounced back by the "shade" would cause warming surely? The atmosphere of Venus is very thick and blots out a lot of light however it's pretty toasty on the surface.
Eugene Lim
Eugene Lim:
This sounds alot like the animatrixs operations dark storm to darken the skies, and later reverse its affects, which went awry causing perpetual darkness.
tom norton
tom norton:
intervening with complex systems in this way is batshit insane. We have no idea what the secondary etc effects of this will be
Kuldeep Singh
Kuldeep Singh:
Just plant a tree
It is as simple as that how could you messed this up world people ?
Muhammad Saqib
Muhammad Saqib:
What is the point of living under a shadow when we inhale smoke with lots of bio gases and carbon dioxide when we drink water which contain factory wastes and micro plastics
Robin Gurung
Robin Gurung:
give a gold medal to the narrator
Paul Lambert
Paul Lambert:
If climate change is an existential crisis, and we've been failing to deal with it for twenty years, it would be negligent to not consider any potential solution. If we don't want to consider this as a solution, to me it means either a) that we don't really believe it's a crisis and we have other goals that are driving the agenda, or b) that we do believe it's a crisis, but are more concerned about "how" we solve the problem than "whether" we solve the problem.
Shawn Phillips
Shawn Phillips:
whether in colder regions or hotter ones... I'm totally fine with these fishing or hunting populations continuing to live as they have and as they do... because they're ridiculously tiny percentages of the global population... however... it does seem we hear of many such people starving or having to abandon the old ways of life.. because the planet is warmer and many regions sustain less life than they used to....
thatbme35
thatbme35:
They are doing it and blaming you. Priceless 🤣 🦎
Richard Pauli
Richard Pauli:
Of course not! but will we do it anyway? Yes, of course.
Gale Rauschenberger
Gale Rauschenberger:
How about more research into how we can use geothermal energy. Lets see its clean, reliable, limitless. Hmmmm. Food for thought?
NovotnyJ
NovotnyJ:
Cobra effect. Dont forget that everytime you create solution you create another problem or worsen existing one.
Nick Schroeder
Nick Schroeder:
+1.0 to 1.5 C in the GMST anomaly over 140 to 170 years depending on the "expert" and data base is NOT "getting too hot."
They are not even real numbers, they are statistical hallucinations.
Anglosaxon Mike
Anglosaxon Mike:
For
the polar darkness period, from April through September, the average
temperature was -60.9 degrees Celsius (-77.6 degrees Fahrenheit), a
record for those months," the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC)
said.
The last six months is also the darkest period at the South Pole, which is where the name polar darkness (also called polar night)
comes from. Here, the sun sets for the last time around the spring
equinox, and does not rise again until near the autumn equinox six
months later.
For
the entire Antarctic continent, the winter of 2021 was the
second-coldest on record, with the "temperature for June, July, and
August 3.4 degrees Celsius (6.1 degrees Fahrenheit) lower than the 1981
to 2010 average at -62.9 degrees Celsius (-81.2 degrees Fahrenheit),"
according to a new report from the NSIDC.
"This
is the second-coldest winter (June-July-August months) on record,
behind only 2004 in the 60-year weather record at Amundsen-Scott South
Pole Station," the NSIDC said.....
Arshad Mohammmed
Arshad Mohammmed:
doesn't the sulfur dioxide cause acid rain?🤔