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Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life
Mississippi's Kemper County coal gasification plant, under construction in 2013, was supposed to capture and sequester carbon emissions. XTUV0010 / CC BY-SA 3.0

By Steve Horn

The huge bipartisan energy bill currently stalled in the Senate would fast-track exports of fracked gas, offer over a billion dollars in subsidies to "clean coal" efforts and make available hundreds of millions in tax dollars for a geoengineering pilot project.

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An Indonesian man pumps water up to the second floor of a house to wash away the mud in a flooded neighborhood on Jan. 3 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Ed Wray / Getty Images

After nearly 15 inches of rain fell in one day and caused flash floods and landslides in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, that destroyed 60,000 homes and killed at least 43 people, the Indonesian Air Force sent two planes to drop salt on approaching rain clouds to break them up before they reached the city, according to Reuters.

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By Shuchi Talati

Solar geoengineering describes a set of approaches that would reflect sunlight to cool the planet. The most prevalent of these approaches entails mimicking volcanic eruptions by releasing aerosols (tiny particles) into the upper atmosphere to reduce global temperatures — a method that comes with immense uncertainty and risk. We don't yet know how it will affect regional weather patterns, and in turn its geopolitical consequences. One way we can attempt to understand potential outcomes is through models.

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Squeeb Creative / iStock / Getty Images

By Daisy Dunne

Spraying aerosols high in the stratosphere could dampen global warming over land, but may not prevent the oceans from heating up, new research says.

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Gorancakmazovic / Getty Images

By Jeff Turrentine

Science fiction doesn't always stay fictional. Space exploration, robots and self-driving cars are just a few of the modern-day wonders that once existed only as plot devices or fantastical theories. Our capacity for turning science-fictional notions into the stuff of everyday life has grown with each new generation of scientists and microchips, such that more and more ideas previously deemed too far "out there" are now actually here, or at least technologically plausible.

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Downtowngal / CC BY-SA 3.0

By Jan Minx, Dr. Sabine Fuss and Gregory Nemet

Despite the ambitious long-term climate goals of the Paris agreement, there remains a distinct lack of success at ushering in immediate and sustained reductions in global CO2 emissions.

This cognitive dissonance has seen the topic of "negative emissions"—also known as "carbon dioxide removal"—move into the limelight in climate science and policy discussions.

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Clouds over Llanymynech, Wales, UK. Dave McGlinchey / Flickr

By Robert McSweeney

Solar geoengineering, or "solar radiation management" (SRM), is perhaps the most controversial of the different ways of limiting human-caused climate change.

A commonly voiced objection to the technique is the risk of "termination shock"—the rapid rebounding of global temperatures if SRM is deployed and then suddenly stopped.

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Aerial view of eucalyptus grandis or saligna trees in a commercial forestry plantation in South Africa. Alamy Stock Photo

By Daisy Dunne

Reducing the impacts of human-caused climate change through the use of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage—better known as BECCS—could have major consequences for wildlife, forests and water resources, a new study shows.

The large-scale conversion of existing land to BECCS plantations could cause global forest cover to fall by as much as 10 percent and biodiversity "intactness" to decline by up to 7 percent, the lead author told Carbon Brief.

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By Tim Radford

Geoengineering—the untested technofix that would permit the continued use of fossil fuels—could create more problems than it could solve.

By masking sunlight with injections of sulphate aerosols in the stratosphere, nations could perhaps suppress some of the devastating hurricanes and typhoons that in a rapidly warming world threaten northern hemisphere cities. But they could also scorch the Sahel region of Africa, to threaten millions of lives and livelihoods, according to new research.

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By Steve Horn

Geoengineering, hailed in some circles as a potential techno-fix to the climate change crisis, has taken a step closer to going mainstream.

The U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology held a rare joint subcommittee hearing on Nov. 8, only the second ever congressional hearing of its kind on the topic (the first was held in 2009). The committee invited expert witnesses to discuss the status of geoengineering research and development. Geoengineering is a broad term encompassing sophisticated scientific techniques meant to reverse the impacts of climate change or pull greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.

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By Jane A. Flegal and Andrew Maynard

Hollywood's latest disaster flick, "Geostorm," is premised on the idea that humans have figured out how to control the earth's climate. A powerful satellite-based technology allows users to fine-tune the weather, overcoming the ravages of climate change. Everyone, everywhere can quite literally "have a nice day," until—spoiler alert!—things do not go as planned.

Admittedly, the movie is a fantasy set in a deeply unrealistic near-future. But coming on the heels of one of the most extreme hurricane seasons in recent history, it's tempting to imagine a world where we could regulate the weather.

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