New research published on the White House website has revealed that the Biden administration is open to studying the feasibility of blocking sunlight as a potential solution to combat climate change. The report, mandated by Congress, marks a significant step in elevating discussions around solar radiation modification from the realm of science fiction to a legitimate subject of debate.
While the senior administration official clarified that there are no current plans for a comprehensive research program into solar radiation modification, the report highlights the need for a cohesive research agenda in this area. It emphasizes the importance of understanding both the potential benefits and risks associated with such approaches, citing the ever-evolving understanding of complex Earth systems.
The report, produced by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, fulfills a congressional mandate outlined in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022. The Act specifically called for the development of a research governance framework to guide publicly funded work in solar geoengineering research, focusing on transparency, engagement, and risk management.
Notably, the report emphasizes the viability of atmospheric approaches over space-based approaches, stating that atmospheric methods such as stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI), marine cloud brightening, and cirrus cloud thinning are being considered for further exploration. The document also highlights that research into space-based approaches has not been as prominent, with geoengineering methods in the atmosphere being viewed as more feasible in the near term.
It is important to note that the report is a research document and does not attach any specific government policy. The Biden administration is evaluating the potential of sunlight-blocking techniques as part of a broader effort to address the challenges of climate change.
The inclusion of this topic in a congressional report underscores the growing recognition of the need for innovative and unconventional approaches to combat climate change. While the concept of solar radiation modification may raise concerns and require rigorous study, the report acknowledges the importance of further research to better understand the potential benefits and risks involved.
As discussions around solar radiation modification gain momentum, it is crucial to ensure transparency, engagement, and effective risk management in any future research and potential implementation. The report signals the Biden administration’s willingness to explore alternative strategies to tackle climate change, underscoring the urgency of finding sustainable solutions to protect the planet’s future.