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Geoengineering: The Bad Idea We Need to Stop Climate Change

The National Research Council has provided a shock of fresh air to the climate debate in the U.S.
The 2013 movie Snowpiercer took a fanciful look at what might happen if human attempts to engineer the climate were to go awry. A pair of reports from the National Research Council offers a sober, reality-based look.

The 2013 movie Snowpiercer took a fanciful look at what might happen if human attempts to engineer the climate were to go awry. A pair of reports from the National Research Council offers a sober, reality-based look.

Photographer: Weinstein Company/Everett Collection

Maybe the problem with climate change isn't that we've messed with the earth too much. Or maybe we haven't messed with it enough.

The National Research Council, which writes fat, independent reports on complicated topics for policymakers, has at last weighed in on the utility— and possible consequences—of re-engineering the planet to ease global warming's worst impacts. It's called geoengineering, and with a name like that, what could go wrong? Never mind the instantaneous global ice age conjured in Snowpiercer, in which cooling chemicals poured into the atmosphere go awry.