Argument: Starting then stopping geoengineering would accelerate warming

Issue Report: Geoengineering


Alan Robock. “Has the time come for geoengineering?” The Bulletin. August 14th, 2008: “10. Rapid warming if deployment stops. A technological, societal, or political crisis could halt a project of stratospheric aerosol injection in mid- deployment. Such an abrupt shift would result in rapid climate warming, which would produce much more stress on society and ecosystems than gradual global warming.”

Graeme Wood. “Re-Engineering the Earth.” The Atlantic. September 12th, 2010: “Worst of all is what Raymond Pierrehumbert, a geophysicist at the University of Chicago, calls the “Sword of Damocles” scenario. In Greek legend, Dionysius II, the ruler of Syracuse, used a single hair to suspend a sword over Damocles’ head, ostensibly to show him how precarious the life of a powerful ruler can be. According to Pierrehumbert, sulfur aerosols would cool the planet, but we’d risk calamity the moment we stopped pumping: the aerosols would rain down and years’ worth of accumulated carbon would make temperatures surge. Everything would be fine, in other words, until the hair snapped, and then the world would experience the full force of postponed warming in just a couple of catastrophic years.”