Track: Organized Oral Session
Climate intervention (geoengineering) is a set of proposed activities designed to intentionally modify global climate to reduce anthropogenic global warming. The goal of one approach, solar radiation management (SRM), is deliberately reducing or stabilizing global surface temperatures by reflecting incoming solar radiation to increase Earth’s albedo. Considerable research has gone into understanding climate projections for different scenarios of stratospheric atmosphere intervention (SAI), a proposed approach to SRM in which particles would be injected into the stratosphere, mimicking volcanic eruptions. However, almost nothing is known about predicted ecological impacts of SAI. More fundamentally, ecologists have not addressed the real possibility that climate intervention could take place, and awareness of the extent of work on SRM and SAI modeling is essentially nonexistent within this community. Climate scientists, likewise, have largely not considered the potential impacts of SAI strategies on ecological systems. While ecologists might assume that SAI and SRM in general are hokey, pie-in-the-sky propositions, as anthropogenic climate change continues to wreak disastrous consequences on human and natural systems, we may be passing the point of no return. When, to what degree, and even if carbon emissions are limited is a big political question. Climate scientists agree essentially without exception that carbon emissions must be reduced and ultimately stopped, but even if this happens, many changes in climate will become inevitable. A major goal of this session is to raise the awareness of ecologists about what a range of different SAI scenarios might entail, and how they might affect natural systems in comparison with anthropogenic climate change scenarios. SAI cannot be evaluated in comparison with nothing; its risks and impacts must be better understood if it were to be implemented in concert with reduced carbon emissions, unabated carbon emissions, and compared with carbon emission scenarios without SAI. Anthropogenic climate change has enormous consequences for humans and nature. If it was possible to use SAI to stabilize temperatures while also working to minimize GHG emissions, is this worth the risks and uncertainties, relative to ongoing anthropogenic climate change? Are risks of climate intervention for humans and ecological systems more uncertain than the risks of anthropogenic climate change scenarios? What ecological systems, taxa and regions would be most helped, and which ones would face greater risks should SAI be developed and implemented? The answers critically require the input of ecologists to inform future decisions about potential implementation.
Presenting Author: Jessica Hellmann – Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota
Presenting Author: Peter M. Groffman – CUNY Advanced Science Research Center at the Graduate Center
Presenting Author: Simone Tilmes – Atmospheric Chemistry Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research
Presenting Author: Romaric C. Odoulami – African Climate and Development Initiative, University of Cape Town
Presenting Author: Cheng-En Yang – Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Tennessee
Presenting Author: Daniele Visioni – Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Cornell University