Decisions on the Risks and Benefits of Geoengineering

Should Geoengineering Be Employed To Combat Climate Change?

That is exactly the question Duke’s DECIPHER Bass Connections team has explored the past year. 

With the issue of climate change becoming more present in our discussions about both the present and the future, scientists and world leaders are searching for methods that can buy us more time to mitigate rising global temperatures and prevent the worst consequences of climate change.

One option that is quickly gaining attention is geoengineering.

While some researchers laud geoengineering as an enormously beneficial means to stabilize global temperatures, others point out its risks and caution against geoengineering.

We wanted to delve deeper into this highly debated strategy by understanding both the risks and benefits of geoengineering.

As geoengineering continues to be debated as either a necessary or dangerous means to help combat climate change, we believe it is of utmost importance to explore geoengineering from a myriad of academic and stakeholder perspectives.

About Our Research

Duke University’s DECIPHER Bass Connections research team is motivated to improve a holistic understanding of geoengineering regarding its health and environmental risks.

Over the course of the first semester, we met with several leading geoengineering researchers and discussed both the risks and benefits of geoengineering methods, mostly sulfate aerosol injection (SAI) technology. Over the course of the second semester, we explored other forms of geoengineering and compiled our findings in mediums we hoped could be easily digested by the public.

Learn more about our research sub-projects here.

About Geoengineering

Geoengineering is the deliberate large-scale alteration of the Earth’s systems to combat climate change. Most researchers that advocate for geoengineering have stressed that these methods must be paired with continued climate change mitigation, or efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Because geoengineering methods have never been tested beyond a limited pilot scale, both the public and research community have emphasized the uncertainty about its costs, effectiveness, and indirect impacts.

Potential Risks

These approaches also have both significant biophysical and ethical risks. In terms of environmental damage, some geoengineering methods may damage the ozone layer and alter regional precipitation patterns. The actual governance of these technologies risk international conflict and may stall necessary action towards mitigation.

Debate about Geoengineering Research

Furthermore, debate involving both the risks and importance of geoengineering research has dominated recent conversations. In these discussions, disciplines across the academic spectrum have joined forces to explore the risks of research (specifically field testing), the fine line between research and implementation, and how research could safely be conducted.

Learn more about GEOENGINEERING here.

About DECIPHER Bass Connections 2019-2020

The Duke DECIPHER Bass Connections team is comprised of Duke University professors, undergraduate students, and graduate students from a diversity of academic backgrounds. The DECIPHER project aims to conduct a multifaceted analysis of geoengineering as one possibly effective but also risky strategy to address climate change.