This is the question posed by Holly Jean Buck in her 2019 book After Geoengineering: Climate Tragedy, Repair, and Restoration. Zooming with me from Buffalo, New York, where she’s a professor of environment at the University of Buffalo, Buck is blunt in her assessment. The pace of climate change, and the insufficiency of humanity’s current response, have effectively already made the choice for us: mankind will have to engage in some kind of “geoengineering” – an umbrella term for various methods of intentional, planetary-scale climate intervention – whether we like it or not.
"It’s clear that we need to remove some amount of carbon from the atmosphere.”
How much? “Hundreds of billions of gigatons,” Buck says. “We have emitted so much, and now we have so much legacy carbon. The challenge isn’t just cutting emissions.” The second challenge is “removing the carbon that’s up there. It’s this massive cleanup operation that we need to undertake this century.”
Been saying that for years.