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Climate geoengineering must be regulated, says former WTO head

Climate geoengineering

There is growing concern that practices like cloud whitening, part of geoengineering efforts, could lead to unintended consequences, including altering rainfall patterns. The former head of the World Trade Organisation is urging countries to urgently agree on ways to control and regulate geoengineering attempts. As the risk of global heating surpassing the critical 1.5C threshold rises, drastic and potentially irreversible climate changes, such as melting ice caps, floods, droughts, heatwaves, and rising sea levels, become more likely.

Currently, there are limited measures to prevent a government from independently experimenting with geoengineering. The former WTO head emphasizes the need for mechanisms to prevent such unilateral actions, suggesting a comprehensive exploration of options, including the possibility of implementing a moratorium.

Geoengineering involves attempting to modify Earth’s temperature or climate through methods like cloud whitening, injecting sulphur particles into the atmosphere to reflect sunlight, or spreading iron in the ocean to absorb carbon dioxide. Concepts such as launching a large sunshade into space or painting roofs white have also been proposed. While these ideas remain untested, some carry potential risks, such as sulphur spraying causing ocean acidification, cloud whitening altering rainfall patterns, and sunray deflection leading to crop failures.

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