We are often asked if we could share non-technical readings and videos that provide background on solar geoengineering.
The following list concentrates on statements or reports from institutions, as well as pieces we see as particularly good journalism, both print and multimedia. This list not exhaustive and is no-doubt informed by our biases, yet we hope it provides a useful starting point for those looking to learn more about solar geoengineering and its policy and politics.
Reports from science academies
“Climate Intervention: Reflecting Sunlight to Cool Earth,” National Research Council, 2015.
The U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) first pointed to geoengineering in their 1977 Energy and Climate report, and with more detail in the 1983 Changing Climate report. The NAS recommended research in 1992 and 2015. The National Academies is now undertaking a study to develop a research agenda and research governance approaches for solar geoengineering (to be completed in 2020).
“Geoengineering the climate: science, governance and uncertainty,” The Royal Society, 2009.
The U.K. Royal Society report was the first by a scientific academy focused exclusively on geoengineering.
“Press Release,” Natural Resources Defense Council, February 10, 2015
“Our Position on Geoengineering,” Environmental Defense Fund
“UCS Position on Solar Geoengineering” Union of Concerned Scientists, February 2019
James Temple, “What is Geoengineering—And Why Should You Care?” MIT Technology Review, August 9, 2019.
Catherine Brahic, "Countries look at ways to tinker with Earth’s thermostat," The Economist, March 14, 2019
Jeff Tollefson, “First sun-dimming experiment will test a way to cool Earth,” Nature, November 27, 2018
Jon Gertner, “Is It O.K. to Tinker With the Environment to Fight Climate Change?,” The New York Times Magazine, April 18, 2017
Eduardo Porter, “To Curb Global Warming, Science Fiction May Become Fact,” The New York Times, April 4, 2017
“If All Else Fails,” The Economist, November 28, 2015
Op-eds and non-technical articles by current or former members of Harvard's Solar Geoengineering Research Program:
David Keith, “Let’s Talk About Geoengineering,” Project Syndicate, March 21, 2019
Gernot Wagner and Martin L. Weitzman, “A Big-Sky Plan to Cool the Planet,” The Wall Street Journal, February 16, 2018
David Keith, “Toward a Responsible Solar Geoengineering Research Program,” Issues in Science and Technology, Spring 2017
David Keith and Gernot Wagner, “Fear of solar geoengineering is healthy – but don't distort our research,” The Guardian, March 30, 2017
David Keith and Gernot Wagner, “Toward a More Reflective Planet,” Project Syndicate, June 16, 2016
David Keith, “Why We Should Research Solar Geoengineering Now,” Slate, January 20, 2016
David Keith, Edward Parson and M. Granger Morgan, “Research on Global Sun Block Needed Now,” Nature 463 (2010): 426-427
“The Peril and Promise of Geoengineering,” Harvard Museum of Natural History, October 30, 2019.
“Inside the Controversial Experiment to Geoengineering the Atmosphere,” Seeker, October 15, 2019.
“Geoengineering is a Crazy Idea,” Intelligence Squared, April 18, 2019.
“As planet warms, scientists explore ‘far out’ ways to reduce atmospheric CO2,” PBS NewsHour, March 27, 2019
“Engineering Earth,” Vice on HBO, September 14, 2018.
“The climate change experiment,” The Economist, October 27, 2017.
“A New Tool to Address Climate Change,” Harvard’s Solar Geoengineering Research Program, Produced by Daniel Mooney, October 2016.
Oliver Morton, The Planet Remade (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015).
A terrific long-form overview of solar geoengineering and carbon removal covering history, politics, and science.
David Keith, A Case for Climate Engineering (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2013).
A very short book.
Jesse Reynolds, The Governance of Solar Geoengineering: Managing Climate Change in the Anthropocene (Cambridge University Press: 2019).
The best single volume overview of solar geoengineering’s governance challenges.
The following are a selection of noteworthy critical views on solar geoengineering.
Ray Pierrehumbert is a leading geoscientist and widely respected voice on climate issues.
The ETC Group has been the most active NGO opposing research on geoengineering and a host of other technologies. The ETC Group is an important voice in this debate, although their rhetorical zeal occasionally overides facts.
The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) opposes research on geoengineering based on critical legal and policy analysis.
Excerpts from Formal Statements
Marcia McNutt from The National Academy of Sciences: “’The urgency of the climate change problem, as documented in the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, suggests that it is very timely to take a deeper look into the viability of these approaches,’ said Marcia McNutt, president of the National Academy of Sciences and chair of the committee that authored the 2015 report. ‘We are running out of time to mitigate catastrophic climate change. Although climate-intervention strategies are not a substitute for actions to limit emissions of greenhouse gases, some of these interventions, such as sunlight reflection, may need to be considered in the future, but first we need to study them more carefully and determine how best to govern field experiments.’”
Natural Resources Defense Council: “It’s prudent to do research into geoengineering…because manipulating solar radiation is risky and we must increase our understanding of those risks.”
Environmental Defense Fund: “Engaging in transparent small-scale field research to further our understanding of the climate system and the implications of any albedo modification proposals is prudent and governance re-gimes should be established in parallel with the very first experiments.” And, “EDF has played an early role in the NGO community in promoting governance of climate engineering research. Increasing numbers of environmental NGOs have joined us in this effort, and some of them have endorsed small-scale research.”
Union of Concerned Scientists: “A precautionary approach to grave climate risks is one in which society invests in developing a careful understanding of all possible climate response options, including ones that themselves pose substantial risks and uncertainties. This includes developing a careful understanding of the possible future use of solar geoengineering technologies to rapidly cool the Earth by reflecting sun-light back into space.”