The United States Congress could fund geoengineering for the first time. Although the idea of large-scale climate engineering has stoked controversy in the past, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) has called on the US government to fund geoengineering research as humanity seeks new ways to deal with climate change.

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In a roadmap prepared for Congress, the USGCRP called for research to provide “insight into the science needed to understand potential pathways for climate intervention or geoengineering and the possible consequences of any such measures, both intended and unintended.” The USGCRP recommends research into two major geoengineering methods: capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and raising the amount of sunlight reflected by Earth.

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In the plan, the USGCRP said that “climate intervention cannot substitute for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the changes in climate that occur” but that “some types of deliberative climate intervention may someday be one of a portfolio of tools used in managing climate change.” That means that politicians are still on the hook for limiting emissions and taking measure to adapt to climate change.

Is geoengineering really the best approach to humanity’s climate change woes? Al Gore lambasted the idea as “insane, utterly mad, and delusional in the extreme” in response to a United Nations climate panel in 2014. Over a year later, MIT scientists released a study indicating geoengineering could bring about adverse unintended consequences.

Via MIT Technology Review

Images via Wikimedia Commons and Max Pixel