Solar Radiation Modification
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Solar Radiation Modification
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Solar Radiation Modification
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5.5SyntheticBiology5.4Science ofthe Originsof Life5.3FutureEconomics5.2Future ofEducation5.1ComplexSystemsScience4.4Democracy-affirming Technologies4.1Science-basedDiplomacy4.2Advances inScience Diplomacy4.3Digital Technologiesand Conflict3.7InfectiousDiseases3.6Solar RadiationModification3.5OceanStewardship3.4SpaceResources3.3Future FoodSystems3.2WorldSimulation3.1Decarbonisation2.6FutureTherapeutics2.5Organoids2.4ConsciousnessAugmentation2.3RadicalHealthExtension2.2HumanApplicationsof GeneticEngineering2.1CognitiveEnhancement1.6CollectiveIntelligence1.5AugmentedReality1.4BiologicalComputing1.3Brain-inspiredComputing1.2QuantumTechnologies1.1AdvancedAIHIGHEST ANTICIPATIONPOTENTIAL
5.5SyntheticBiology5.4Science ofthe Originsof Life5.3FutureEconomics5.2Future ofEducation5.1ComplexSystemsScience4.4Democracy-affirming Technologies4.1Science-basedDiplomacy4.2Advances inScience Diplomacy4.3Digital Technologiesand Conflict3.7InfectiousDiseases3.6Solar RadiationModification3.5OceanStewardship3.4SpaceResources3.3Future FoodSystems3.2WorldSimulation3.1Decarbonisation2.6FutureTherapeutics2.5Organoids2.4ConsciousnessAugmentation2.3RadicalHealthExtension2.2HumanApplicationsof GeneticEngineering2.1CognitiveEnhancement1.6CollectiveIntelligence1.5AugmentedReality1.4BiologicalComputing1.3Brain-inspiredComputing1.2QuantumTechnologies1.1AdvancedAIHIGHEST ANTICIPATIONPOTENTIAL

Emerging Topic:

3.6Solar Radiation Modification

    Associated Sub-Fields

    Solar radiation modification (SRM) is a set of approaches that could fully or partially offset the temperature rise caused by greenhouse gas emissions, thus reducing some of the harmful impacts of anthropogenic climate change.

    SRM approaches operate on a range of spatial scales. Some options for manipulating the reflectivity (albedo) of the Earth's surface are primarily local: while this means they are inherently limited in their effectiveness, it also means there are fewer potential complications in their implementation. At the other end of the spectrum, planetary scale options like stratospheric aerosol injection would affect the entire planet, with complex environmental, social and geopolitical consequences.2

    SRM also encompasses a range of technological complexity. Some options involve nothing more complicated than painting roofs white. Others entail constructing fleets of high-altitude aircraft or even space-based mirrors. These latter methods have the most potential to offset the entire global climate warming, but involve resolving fundamental scientific questions, developing and implementing new technologies and addressing key governance challenges. The optimal solution may be one that uses SRM deployment alongside other climate responses such as emissions reduction and carbon dioxide removal.3 Overall, there is growing scientific consensus that this approach would work in a technical sense, with some limitations.45

    However, all SRM approaches raise challenging questions such as who should control the technologies, if and when they should be deployed, and what should happen if a deployment goes wrong or fails entirely. Another concern is “moral hazard”: the possibility that investing in these SRM approaches would reduce the impetus to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

    Given the increase in global mean temperatures, decisions about whether to research and deploy SRM are becoming increasingly urgent, but the political aspects of its implementation and subsequent governance remain highly problematic and poorly understood. There is thus a pressing need to develop international governance frameworks for deciding whether or not to conduct SRM field experiments; if so how — and to prepare for making decisions whether or not to deploy at some point in the future. Governance frameworks for potential future deployment need to be designed for the long term, because SRM deployment would need to be sustained and monitored for decades — and possibly a century or more.

    Selection of GESDA best reads and further key reports

    The 2022 IPCC report provides the most comprehensive summary of current climate change.6 The US National Research Councils' Committee's report on Geoengineering Climate in 2015 focuses on the potential of geoengineering solutions.7 In June 2020, the EPFL International Risk Governance Center released a study drawing together relevant information and recommendations.8 A 2018 report in Nature Communications provides a useful perspective.9

    Emerging Topic:

    Anticipation Potential

    Solar Radiation Modification

    Sub-Fields:

    Stratospheric aerosol injection
    Cloud engineering
    Terrestrial solar radiation modification
    Space-based solar radiation modification
    Solar radiation modification (SRM) could fully or partially offset the temperature rise caused by greenhouse gas emissions, reducing some of the harmful impacts of climate change. The high anticipation scores are reflective of the relative immaturity of the science and technology required to modify or deflect the sun's rays, low awareness of the field and disruptive potential if development is successful. Some experts question whether the social and political ramifications of being able to deploy such technologies should preclude further investigation.

    GESDA Best Reads and Key Resources