We're altering the climate so severely that we'll soon face apocalyptic consequences. Here are 9 last-ditch ways we could hack the planet to reverse that trend.
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- Geoengineering is a term that refers to technology that can alter Earth's natural cycles to cool down the planet. It's being increasingly discussed as a potential way to address climate change.
- Putting mirrors in space, capturing carbon dioxide, and seeding clouds with particles are all ways of manipulating weather or the atmosphere.
- But some scientists and politicians think geoengineering could damage the planet or lead to war.
- Here are 11 strategies researchers have put forth to hack the planet and combat climate change.
As researchers' warnings about the consequences of climate change get more dire, some scientists and politicians are suggesting we do more than just curb our greenhouse-gas emissions - they want to hack our climate.
The technical term for this is geoengineering.
The concept evokes fantastical images of weather-controlling satellites, giant space mirrors, and carbon-sucking tubes. But some techniques for modifying Earth's atmosphere aren't in the realm of fantasy.
In fact, discussions about manipulating the atmosphere to cool the planet are growing increasingly mainstream. Climeworks, a company that captures carbon dioxide from the air, opened its first commercial plant in Switzerland in 2017. Y Combinator, Silicon Valley's largest incubator, has requested proposals from geoengineering-focused start-ups. And some political candidates, including presidential hopeful Andrew Yang, think the US needs to beat other countries to these technologies.
But other experts are less than convinced that these planet hacks are a good idea.
"The side effects may be almost as bad as the disease you're trying to cure," author and environmental activist Bill McKibben told Business Insider. What's more, McKibben said, geoengineering does little to address other problems that arise from greenhouse-gas emissions, such as ocean acidification.
Here are 11 potential geoengineering methods that have been proposed so far.