One proposal is to place giant foldable space mirrors into space at a cost of approximately $4.86 trillion and would require around two decades to finish.

July 2024: Using Geoengineering

Resolved: The use of “Geoengineering” technology to cool the planet
would be desirable.

BACKGROUND:

Geoengineering is a method that uses advanced technology to try to cool the Earth and fight climate change. There are two main approaches: reflection and absorption. Reflection involves techniques like spraying tiny particles into the sky or using mirrors in space to bounce sunlight away from Earth, which helps lower temperatures. Absorption focuses on capturing carbon dioxide from the air, either by planting more trees or using machines designed to absorb this gas. While these methods offer potential solutions, many people worry about the risks and unknowns of using technology to fix a problem that might be caused by other technologies, like pollution from factories and cars. They fear that geoengineering could have unintended side effects or might distract from reducing greenhouse gas emissions through cleaner energy and conservation efforts.

Geoengineering is using science and technology to try to cool the Earth and prevent climate change. For example, scientists might spray tiny particles into the sky, put mirrors in space to reflect sunlight away from the Earth or develop artificial trees designed to absorb more CO2 from the air than a regular tree.

Geoengineering (PRO)

Geoengineering (CON)

  1. Cooler Temperatures Worldwide: Geoengineering can help reduce the Earth’s temperature by both reflecting sunlight away and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Reflecting sunlight is achieved by spraying tiny particles, like sulfur, into the upper atmosphere to form a reflective layer that bounces sunlight back into space. Removing carbon dioxide is done using machines or planting more trees to absorb this greenhouse gas from the air. By combining these approaches, geoengineering can directly lower global temperatures, making hot weather less extreme and more comfortable for people, plants, and animals.
  2. Slows Down Ice Melting: Geoengineering can slow the melting of ice in the Arctic and Antarctic by reducing global temperatures. This is done through techniques like injecting reflective particles into the atmosphere or placing large mirrors in space. By lowering the temperature in these regions, geoengineering helps preserve ice caps, protecting the habitats of animals such as penguins and polar bears, and preventing rapid sea level rise that can result from melting ice.
  3. Reduces Severe Storms: By reducing global temperatures, geoengineering can make severe storms, like hurricanes and typhoons, less intense. This is achieved by cooling ocean temperatures through methods such as spraying reflective particles into the atmosphere or brightening clouds. Cooler oceans have less energy to fuel these storms, making them weaker and less frequent. Geoengineering thus directly contributes to reducing the severity and occurrence of dangerous storms.
  4. Protecting Endangered Animals: By cooling the Earth, geoengineering can help save animals that are at risk of extinction due to rising temperatures. Methods such as brightening clouds with seawater spray or using space mirrors to reflect sunlight away help maintain cooler habitats. These techniques directly contribute to preserving environments where endangered species, like polar bears and coral reefs, thrive, preventing their habitats from becoming too warm.
  5. Gives Time for Solutions: Geoengineering provides more time to develop long-term solutions to climate change by temporarily slowing down global warming. Techniques like reflecting sunlight away or capturing carbon dioxide from the air can quickly reduce temperatures or greenhouse gases. This temporary fix buys time for society to implement more permanent changes, such as transitioning to cleaner energy sources and reforesting large areas.
  1. Doesn’t Solve for Root Causes: Geoengineering addresses the symptoms of climate change, such as high temperatures, but it does not tackle the root causes, like the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. This means that pollution and greenhouse gas emissions will continue, potentially worsening other environmental problems. Relying on geoengineering might also reduce the urgency to adopt sustainable practices and technologies that address the core issues of climate change.
  2. At Best a Temporary Fix: The benefits of geoengineering might only last as long as the projects are maintained. For example, if we stop spraying particles into the atmosphere, the Earth’s temperature could quickly rise again. This means geoengineering is not a permanent solution and might require continuous intervention, which is costly and potentially unsustainable in the long run. It also diverts attention and resources away from finding permanent solutions to climate change.
  3. Extremely High Costs: Geoengineering projects can be extremely expensive to design, build, and maintain. For example, creating and launching space mirrors or deploying fleets of boats to spray seawater into the atmosphere requires significant financial investment. These high costs mean that only wealthy countries or organizations might be able to afford such solutions, potentially leading to inequality in who benefits from these technologies.
  4. Potential for International Conflicts: Different countries might have varying opinions on how geoengineering should be used, leading to political disagreements and conflicts. For example, one country might want to implement a specific geoengineering technique that could inadvertently harm another country’s environment or economy. These disagreements could escalate into international tensions or even conflicts, complicating global efforts to address climate change collaboratively.
  5. Creating Unknown Side Effects: We do not fully understand all the possible side effects of geoengineering. For instance, spraying tiny particles into the atmosphere could impact weather patterns, potentially causing droughts or altering rainfall in unpredictable ways. Additionally, there might be negative effects on human health and ecosystems, as these particles could interact with natural processes in unforeseen and harmful ways.

REQUIRED RESEARCH (VIDEOS & ARTICLES)

Please watch all of the required videos (& take notes) before arriving at the first meeting. Please notice that there is a link to PDFs for the ‘required’ reading so that you can read the original or the simplified version. Grades 1-3 should only read the simplified version. [Download (Later!), Expires: July 2025]

Required Research (Videos):

Later!

Required Research (Articles):

Geoengineering Explained: Pros and Cons of Geoengineering,
Master Class, June 7, 2021 [PDF (Original)] or [PDF (Simplified)
https://www.masterclass.com/articles/geoengineering-explained

Controversial solution could be what the planet needs, or a colossal disaster,
CNN, February 12, 2023 [PDF (Original)] or [PDF (Simplified)
https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/12/world/solar-dimming-geoengineering-climate-solution-intl/index.html

Controversial Technology Creating Unprecedented Rift Among Scientists,
TIME Magazine, March 17, 2023 [PDF (Original)] or [PDF (Simplified)
https://time.com/6264143/geoengineering-climate-scientists-divided/

OPTIONAL RESEARCH (ARTICLES & VIDEOS)

Please consider watching/reading the following research areas in order to prepare for upcoming events.

Optional Research (Articles & Videos):

EU Calls for Global Talks on Climate Geoengineering Risks,
US News & World Report, June 28, 2023
https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2023-06-28/eu-calls-for-global-talks-on-climate-geoengineering-risks

To Slow Global Warming, Scientists Test Solar Geoengineering,
New York Times, April 2, 2024
https://www.nytimes.com/2024/04/02/climate/global-warming-clouds-solar-geoengineering.html

Technology to the Planet’s Rescue?,
US News & World Report, June 6, 2014
https://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2014/06/06/could-geoengineering-reverse-antarctic-ice-loss-and-global-warming

Assessing the Pros and Cons of Geoengineering to Fight Climate Change,
Duke University News, August 6, 2009
https://nicholas.duke.edu/news/assessing-pros-and-cons-geoengineering-fight-climate-change

Solar geoengineering could start soon if it starts small,
MIT Technology Review, February 5, 2024
https://www.technologyreview.com/2024/02/05/1087587/solar-geoengineering-could-start-soon-if-it-starts-small/

Tackling climate change with technology,
BBC News, Last Accessed: July 2024
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8338853.stm

[Video] 5 Ways to Save the World,
BBC Documentary, February 19, 2007 [60 min]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gundU7FlLzM
WeTransfer: [Later!]

ADDITIONAL RESEARCH (Evidence & Outlines)

We provide students with some sample evidence and/or outlines to help them prepare for any upcoming events. This research can be copied word-for-word, or can be modified to fit the students needs. Copying these and other outlines is proper (it’s not cheating). I hope they are useful for you.

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