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Geoengineering: Reaching Maturity?

VFS first learned of geoengineering around 2007, and as with all emerging issues, we continue to follow it in our news feeds and assess it's maturity.

Recently, Richard Spinrad, administrator of NOAA, discussed the need for more research regarding potential ecosystem impacts before implementing geoengineering techniques. He also frames climate issues as a security concern; "...the traditional interpretations, such as national security, homeland security – but also food security, energy security, water security, economic security."

Additionally, According to Science, NOAA launched it's first ever large scale field research project in solar geoengineering in 2023. These are just a couple of the signals that indicate geoengineering is moving up the S-curve. It may not yet be mainstream, but it has certainly moved out of the realm of science fiction.

The S-Curve, as developed by Vision Foresight Strategy

For those new to the subject, geoengineering (also called climate engineering) is the deliberate manipulation of Earth's natural systems to counteract the effects of climate change. As more severe weather events trend upward, discussions on its feasibility are occurring more frequently.

Some geoengineering technologies being discussed recently include:

  • Solar Radiation Management (SRM): techniques that reflect sunlight back into space.

    • Examples: Sulfate aerosols, marine cloud brightening

  • Raising ground-level albedo: increasing the reflectivity of earth's surface.

    • Examples: painting pavement and roofs with reflective paints

  • Carbon Dioxide removal: chemically or mechanically removing C02 from the air.

    • Examples: ocean fertilization, enhanced photosynthesis through genetic modification

Image courtesy of Chelsea Thompson, NOAA/CIRES

Geoengineering spans a broad variety of emerging technologies, and is highly controversial. If you or your company are interested in the effect of these types of climate change-combating technologies, or the ethical, environmental, or governance concerns they may bring, reach out to us today.

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