A recently published research document on the White House website has shed light on the Biden administration’s willingness to explore the concept of blocking sunlight as a potential measure to combat climate change. The document, released by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on Friday, reveals that the team has been studying “geoengineering” methods aimed at preventing sun rays from exacerbating global warming.
The University of Oxford defines “geoengineering” as the intentional large-scale intervention in the Earth’s natural systems to counteract climate change. The report titled “Congressionally-Mandated Report on Solar Radiation Modification” outlines the specific geoengineering methods under consideration by the Biden administration, including “stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI) and marine cloud brightening,” along with research into “cirrus cloud thinning.”
The introduction to the report clarifies that research on “space-based approaches” has not been a focus due to the relative ease of implementing atmospheric approaches.
The document emphasizes that it is primarily a research plan aimed at understanding the potential impacts of solar radiation modification (SRM) rather than a blueprint for deployment. The research would contribute to a better understanding of basic climate processes, the effects of human greenhouse gas emissions, and the outcomes of SRM.
The summary highlights that a research program exploring the scientific and societal implications of SRM would enable informed decisions on its potential risks and benefits as part of climate policy. It also acknowledges that such a program would prepare the United States for possible SRM deployment by other public or private actors.
The report points out that SRM could offer the prospect of significant planetary cooling within a few years.
However, the White House issued a separate statement assuring the public that there are no plans at present to establish a comprehensive research program focused on solar radiation modification.