Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) congratulates the New Straits Times in highlighting the need to “Adjust our mindset and not the sun’s rays” in its editorial piece. (NST, June 29).
We could not agree more with the editors, that we should not be allowing solar geoengineering technologies that are meant to manipulate the weather, on the speculative assumption that they will cool the planet!
This is indeed a dangerous distraction from taking the transformative actions needed to limit greenhouse gas emissions globally and in phasing out fossil fuel dependence in an equitable and just manner.
As we witness the alarming onset of climate change impacts and warnings growing louder for speedier and more urgent action to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degree Celsius from the pre-industrial era, there have been proliferating calls for manipulating the Earth system with very risky and dangerous solar geo-engineering technologies which are unknown to many, including governments.
The irresponsible idea behind such speculative technologies is that we can continue to plunder, over-consume and pollute our Earth, as it is possible to engineer our way out of the current climate crisis.
One such solar engineering technology, called solar radiation management that is gathering most attention is to use balloons or aircraft to spray large quantities of aerosols — tiny particles of, for example, sulphur dioxide or engineered nanoparticles — into the stratosphere to dim the sunlight. There are also other proposed techniques that include foolish ideas such as covering deserts with plastic; genetically engineering plants to have brighter, more reflective leaves; creating or making clouds whiter; and deploying millions of mirrors in space.
It is no longer science fiction but dangerous experiments which are being thrusted on our planet.
Instead of supporting investments to transition away and diversify from fossil fuel reliance into renewable energy, energy conservation and efficiency and other genuine climate solutions, attention is being diverted by funding geoengineering researchers, particularly those in the United States, with support from billionaires including Bill Gates and George Soros.
Developing country governments are being courted by irresponsible researchers and companies to become testing grounds for such dangerous technologies.
To counter these moves and to raise public attention, more than 400 senior climate scientists and scholars from around the world have called for an International Non-Use Agreement on Solar Geoengineering, which hopefully results in a ban on real-world research on this technology.
There is in fact a de facto moratorium under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity on the development and deployment of these technologies and we in Malaysia too must be on the alert and work with other nations to prevent becoming testing grounds, with seductive promises of making money.
We join the call of concerned scientists for immediate political action from governments, the United Nations, and other actors to prevent the normalization of solar geoengineering as a climate policy option.
Governments and the UN must assert effective political control and restrict the development of solar geoengineering technologies at planetary scale.
Solar geoengineering deployment cannot be governed globally in a fair, inclusive, and effective manner. We therefore call for immediate political action from governments, the United Nations, and other actors to prevent the normalisation of solar geoengineering as a climate policy option. Governments and the UN should take effective political control and restrict the development of solar geoengineering technologies before it is too late.
Specifically, we also call for an International Non-Use Agreement on Solar Geoengineering.
As we have stressed before, our Earth should not be a climate laboratory!