geoengineering has been getting increasing press coverage in recent months. Wired reported on the issue this week. While the article suggests Climate engineering technology has yet to even be investigated, it also quotes an academic who directs a project to this very end. Geoengineering patents already exist, and the use of primitive methods has been well documented in decades past. The potential risks of such technology far outweigh any suggested benefits.

Geoengineering journalists contradict themselves

The article, entitled “The US Flirts with Geoengineering to Stymie Climate Change,” states that a growing number of scientists have been speaking of geoengineering.

Also known as climate engineering, geoengineering involves methods to control Earth’s climate systems. One such method includes spraying sulfuric acid into the stratosphere in order to reflect solar radiation back into space, a technique known as Solar radiation management. The intent is to mimic the effects of a volcanic eruption, whereby volcanic ash blocks out the sun for a period.

Congressman Jerry McNerny has even introduced a bill that would “ask the National Academies of Science to explore technologies to geoengineer Earth." This is quite a strange bill, considering such technologies have been under exploration for many decades now. Companies such as Raytheon and others hold several patents for climate engineering technologies.

If such technology has been developed and patented, why in the world would a politician introduce a bill to “explore” it?

In fact, the same Wired article then goes on to quote Kelly Wanser, principal director of the Marine Cloud Brightening Project at the University of Michigan. Marine cloud brightening is a form of solar radiation management.

The existence of such a project at a major university certainly seems to suggest that these technologies have been under exploration for quite some time.

Furthermore, just watch the following clip from "The Colbert Report" featuring Harvard researcher David Keith, who also happens to specialize in solar radiation management.

While it’s quite entertaining, it’s also disturbing:

Geoengineering technology research

Weather modification research of one sort or another has long since been a reality. For example, in 1947, Project Cirrus was the first known large-scale experiment whereby human beings first attempted to use climate engineering. And in the 1970s, cloud-seeding methods were used to assist the US military in fighting the Vietnamese. Of course, owning the weather via geoengineering would be of the utmost interest to the armed forces. Imagine being able to win a war without firing a shot.

More recently, in August 1996, the United States Air Force published a research paper entitled “Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather by 2025." The paper outlines a variety of potential methods to engage in climate engineering.

The paper states that the idea is “A high-risk, high-reward endeavor, weather-modification offers a dilemma, not unlike the splitting of the atom.”

This is probably an understatement. The creation of nuclear weapons introduced the potential for destruction on a massive scale. But intervening in Earth’s climate systems could have dramatic, potentially irreversible consequences for all life on the planet. As the Wired article notes, a research paper was published last month demonstrating that deploying solar radiation management in the Northern Hemisphere could reduce hurricanes in the Atlantic, creating severe drought in Africa.

If such methods can have unintended consequences to this degree, what would the long-term consequences of such climate engineering be if it were deployed on a worldwide scale?

Increasing droughts would be disastrous, considering the wildfires in California are already out of control under current conditions, a situation The Guardian notes was predicted years ago.

In short, while methods to mitigate climate change are surely warranted, ones that might do more harm than good ought not be considered.