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Americans have seen disaster after disaster over the past few weeks, from the Maui wildfires’ near total destruction of Lahaina, Hawaii, to the flash flooding underway from the first tropical storm to hit Southern California since 1939. That’s on top of the extreme summer heat across the South and fires in Canada that have forced entire towns to evacuate and sent hazardous smoke pouring into the U.S.

When climate-related disasters get overwhelming, policymakers start looking closer at geoengineering, hoping for a fast way to slow global warming, whether it’s by blocking the Sun’s rays or sucking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Geoscientist David Kitchen of the University of Richmond explains the geoengineering methods that are being discussed – including some receiving billions of dollars from the U.S. government – and why tinkering with Earth’s systems without better understanding the potential consequences is a costly gamble.

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Stacy Morford

Environment + Climate Editor

Geoengineering includes techniques to reflect solar energy. Elvis Tam/500px via Getty Images

Geoengineering sounds like a quick climate fix, but without more research and guardrails, it’s a costly gamble − with potentially harmful results

David Kitchen, University of Richmond

Some geoengineering techniques are better understood than others. The US is investing in capturing carbon dioxide from the air, but ideas to block the Sun’s rays are raising big concerns.

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