Theodore von Karman Lecture
Concepts for directly and deliberately manipulating Earth's climate system, collectively referred to as "geoengineering," have been proposed as contingency responses to global warming. Their consideration is motivated by accelerating fossil-fuel use and growing evidence of rapid changes underway in our planet's atmosphere, land, and oceans. While stabilizing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions provides a direct, long-term solution to mitigating climate change, establishing effective strategies and making substantive progress may take time. Some forms of geoengineering in concert with mitigation efforts have been suggested to avoid or reduce the risk of the most damaging climate impacts such as abrupt and irreversible tipping-point events. Yet geoengineering itself is complex and fraught with additional issues and risks that are still poorly understood. Satellite observing systems can play a key role in improving scientific understanding and risk assessments for geoengineering (including the risk of geoengineering research itself) in a rigorous, open, and transparent fashion. This talk will cover the motivations and risks of geoengineering and what can be done to support informed decision-making.