For the first time, the U.S. government has authorized funding for controversial geoengineering research, and researchers believe climate change can be addressed by reflecting heat beyond Earth,media reported. One of the $1.4 trillion spending bills passed by Congress this week would set aside at least $4 million for stratospheric surveillance and research for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
President Trump signed the comprehensive appropriations bill on December 26, local time.
Meanwhile, California Congressman Jerry McNerney yesterday introduced a legal proposal that would allow NOAA to set up a formal program to conduct climate intervention research. The full contents of the proposal have not been made public, but it is understood that the main objectives will include raising basic understanding of stratospheric chemistry and assessing the potential impacts and risks of geoengineering.
In addition, Kelly Wanser, consultant and executive director of SilverLining Geoengineering Research, said the legislation would also give NOAA oversight powers to review and report experiments proposed by other research groups.
As the threat of climate change increases, more and more academic groups are exploring ways to cool the planet, such as injecting reflected light particles into the stratosphere or spraying salt water into the sky to illuminate coastal clouds.
But there are concerns that the use of these tools could have dangerous side effects on the environment. In response, McNerney said in a statement that the federal government should take the lead in this controversial area.
In fact, McNerney had earlier proposed legislation to guide the National Academy of Sciences in proposing geoengineering research agendas and oversight guidelines. In turn, a committee will be set up to prepare for next year’s release of recommendations.
Jesse Reynolds, an environmental law and policy researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in an e-mail that public funding for geoengineering research is “long overdue” because reducing emissions alone may not prevent the arrival of climate change risk levels. He added: “We need to know more about the capabilities, limitations and risks of solar geoengineering in order to make informed decisions in the future.” “