Skip to main content

About this free course

Download this course

Share this free course

Could we control our climate?
Could we control our climate?

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

4.2 The complexity of climate

Geoengineering might be thought of as a way to cool the planet, to counter global warming. But you saw from Figure 7 there is much more to consider than air temperature alone.

If you were designing the perfect climate: would you focus mainly on cooling the planet? Or would you aim to perfect the monsoon rains, or preserve the long-term future of the Greenland ice sheet? Or design ideal climate conditions for a particular endangered species, or the Amazon forest, or for people living in less developed countries? These might all have different geoengineering solutions.

These issues are the source of many of the difficulties in studying the climate crisis and in the relationship between climate science and society. The fact that climate is an abstract mathematical concept leads directly to many of the societal controversies around climate change, and the fact climate is more than just weather leads to complications and ethical issues around the idea of geoengineering.