“The Earth doesn’t need to change, we do” says Sheril Kirshenbaum. In today’s Ottawa Citizen, the University of Texas research scientist explains why we shouldn’t use “our only home” as a geoengineering lab. Kirshenbaum argues that there are simply too many variables that can cloud our ability to predict the outcomes of – for example – pumping sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere to cool the Earth. And, if we mistakingly go too far, we could ruin the “only [planet] that we’ve got.”
Instead, Kirshenbaum argues that society can do to help control their changing climate. In her article, she states that:
“[we need to] move beyond lip service and work to take greenhouse gas emissions seriously by lowering them to an acceptable level. It won’t be easy — in practice or policy. But there’s a lot more we can do too that will work in our favour. For example, forest restoration globally will not only protect animals, but also capture a great deal of carbon dioxide. With increasing urbanization, we have the capacity to reforest degraded grasslands and pasturelands, which would have a real, measurable impact on climate.
In other words, I’m not ready to give up on humanity to do the right thing. Not yet. Instead of attempting to manage Mother Nature through geoengineering, we should be doing a better job of managing ourselves.”
We should not dismiss the potential for geoengineering to be a positive force in the energy and climate discussion. But, we should also appreciate Kirshenbaum’s concerns regarding the potential for unintended consequences. We have one Earth, and we should protect it.