Climate Buzz

How to Explain Geoengineering Using… Your Hot Dinner

Couldn’t we just geoengineer our way out of global warming? Not necessarily, says a YouTuber.

Last time it was sea levels and gin & tonics, this time it’s climate intervention and hot meals. In his most recent skit, climate scientists Adam Levy – also known as Climate Adam – goes for dinner with an old friend.

Climate Intervention

Adam’s friend questions why we can’t just figure out a way to “cool the planet down” to counter global warming by intervening in our planet’s climate system.

To explain, Adam compares cooling down his friend’s hot meal to cooling down the earth. By dumping ice cubes on his friend’s plate, Adam has cooled down the meal – but he has also ruined it with “gross melted ice water.”


Adam goes on to explain that scientists have already been researching ways to undo global warming.

If greenhouse gasses are trapping too much of the sun’s energy, for example, why can’t we just find a way to reverse the sun’s rays? Can’t we put floating mirrors in space, or release reflecting aerosols?

Some have even proposed pumping water from the oceans onto Antartica to counter rising sea levels.

Making it Worse

It’s this kind of large-scale intervening with our planet’s system that is called geoengineering, or climate intervention.

Climate Adam points out that one of the problems with these solutions is that we don’t know what else they might do.

Using ice cubes to cool down a hot meal resulted in a ruined dinner, so what if climate engineering would mess with rainfall or other weather patterns?

Even if we could pull off this kind of intervention, we might just be buying time before making matters worse.

Take the idea of storing excess water on the South Pole, for example: “When we stop the pumping one day, additional discharge from Antarctica will increase the rate of sea-level rise even beyond the warming-induced rate,” says Anders Levermann of Climate-KIC partner the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact, who has looked into this idea.

“The magnitude of sea-level rise is so enormous, it turns out it is unlikely that any engineering approach imaginable can mitigate it,” he said.

So What Can We Do?

While you can just wait for your dinner to cool down, we can’t just wait patiently wait for our planet to cool down because it would take way too long.

So what can we do? We have to stop the earth getting any hotter in the first place, says Adam. We need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and aim for a zero carbon society.


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