2020 Democratic Presidential candidate Andrew Yang once again stands out in the Democratic field by suggesting geoengineering as a solution to climate change. Yang, known for his out-of-the-box ideas like Universal Basic Income and lowering the voting age to 16, now hopes to gain an edge with his climate policy.
Yang’s plan for geoengineering potentially entails spending billions, if not trillions, of U.S. dollars to dramatically alter the environment. But given the severe consequences of climate change, should more politicians be on board?
What is Geoengineering?
Geoengineering focuses on dramatically altering the environment, rather than relying on changing patterns of human activity, to stop climate change. Previously proposed geoengineering plans include creating an enormous solar parasol to block out some sun rays, painting vast areas of the world white, releasing sulfur aerosols into the stratosphere, and creating artificial clouds over the ocean.
These plans are costly and could have enormous consequences on the environment. However, due to the lack of policy action on climate change and Earth’s rapidly rising temperatures, some scientists and politicians have argued that geoengineering must be looked at more seriously.
Andrew Yang’s Vision
On his website, Yang advocates for investing heavily in carbon capture and geoengineering technologies. While other Democratic candidates also include climate change policy in their platforms, Yang takes a unique approach by focusing on climate change reversal.
He suggests that the United States invest in innovations, including cloud-seeding technology, that can potentially reverse environmental damages.
Yang also mentions shoring up glaciers and reducing the amount of sunlight that reaches the Earth’s surface. In particular, Yang has mentioned launching a gigantic mirror into space to reflect sunlight.
Capitol Hill’s View On Geoengineering
Though Yang’s backing of geoengineering is novel, he isn’t the only one to propose policy to support the idea. In 2017, California representative Jeremy McNerney introduced a bill that would provide funding for geoengineering research. Although the bill didn’t pass, geoengineering has gained some political legitimacy since then.
It has since spurred various organizations to get involved in making geoengineering real. The International Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine committed to researching geoengineering in the coming years.
When Yang takes the debate stage on the 27th, it will be interesting to see if he’ll have the opportunity to share more about his climate policy. More specifically, gauging voter appeal for funding geoengineering research on a federal level will be important.