No, geoengineering isn't causing climate change

By: Rahul Adhikari
March 13 2024

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No, geoengineering isn't causing climate change

Social media post claim geoengineering causes climate change. (Source: Facebook/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict False

Geoengineering technology aims to mitigate the effects of climate change. There is no evidence that it is responsible for recent climate changes.

Claim ID 96bfc759

What is the claim?

A claim circulating in a Facebook group known for promoting climate change denial suggests that geoengineering is responsible for climate change. This post has garnered over 1,100 reactions and 167 shares; an archived version is available here

Screenshot of the viral post. (Source: Facebook/Modified by Logically Facts)

However, this claim is unsubstantiated. There is no evidence to support that geoengineering has caused recent climatic changes. Experts have identified human activities as the primary culprits behind recent global warming.

What did we find?

Our investigation began with the definition of geoengineering. Harvard's Solar Geoengineering Research Program describes geoengineering as a collection of potential technologies aimed at altering the environment to mitigate some effects of climate change. Geoengineering can be divided into two main categories: carbon geoengineering, which involves carbon dioxide removal (CDR), and solar geoengineering, also known as solar radiation management (SRM), albedo modification, or sunlight reflection.

According to the Oxford Geoengineering Programme, geoengineering constitutes deliberate, large-scale interventions in Earth’s natural systems to counter climate change.

All available evidence suggests that geoengineering is intended to counteract, not cause, climate change.

What do experts say?

Joshua Horton, Program Manager at Harvard's Solar Geoengineering Research Program, told Logically Facts: “There’s no scientific evidence that solar geoengineering contributes to climate change. Solar geoengineering is not currently being deployed. If it were, it would aim to alleviate the impacts of climate change.”

Speaking to Logically Facts, David W Fahey, Director of NOAA's Chemical Sciences Laboratory, emphasized, "Geoengineering is not causing climate change. The focus must be on 'is' since no geoengineering is currently being conducted (to my knowledge) at a scale and intensity to cause regional or global climate change. The reason geoengineering (or climate intervention) is included in science and policy discussions is because it is the 'only' way to offset ongoing climate change from anthropogenic greenhouse gases and other climate forcings on a short time scale (U.S. Natl Acad Sciences, 2015).” 

Fahey added, “If climate intervention were to succeed in this regard at some future date, then it would be the case that climate intervention 'is' causing climate change, but in an intentional manner. Most discussions of climate intervention are in the context of a limited duration intervention, i.e., not a permanent solution for anthropogenic climate change.”

Alison Gillespie, Public Affairs Specialist at NOAA, told us, “Geoengineering, the deliberate manipulation of an environmental process that affects the earth's climate in an attempt to counteract the effects of global warming, is not the cause of climate change.”

What is causing climate change?

NASA and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have pointed to human activities as the primary driver of global warming since the mid-20th century. Peter Jacobs, a climate scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center’s Office of Communication, told Logically Facts, “Human activities, principally our carbon dioxide emissions, have been responsible for the observed warming since preindustrial times.” 

On the causes of climate change, Horton stated, "A vast body of scientific evidence suggests that human-made emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases are driving climate change."

Similarly, Gillespie underscored this perspective, stating, "The root cause of climate change is human activity, which introduces carbon dioxide into the atmosphere more rapidly than natural processes can remove it. Increasing carbon dioxide levels intensify Earth's greenhouse effect, leading to global warming."

The verdict

Scientific bodies and numerous experts have verified that human activities, not geoengineering, primarily drive climate change. Geoengineering, if deployed, would aim to counter climate change's effects. Thus, the claim has been marked as false.

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