There’s a certain allure to the geoengineering approach, particularly from the techno-optimist mindset that’s in vogue in Silicon Valley. Keeping the planet at an optimum temperature while humanity gets its shit together with carbon emissions can feel somehow more attainable than doing the hard work to cut emissions. A giant space mirror to reflect sunlight—something Yang said was among his top choices for cooling the planet because it’s reversible if something goes wrong on Earth—is a lot sexier than a closed coal plant.
“If you were to launch a satellite with expandable mirrors and you can make it so that you can bring a satellite back down if you want,” Yang said. “If you find that it’s effective, then great or if you find that is useless, then you don’t use it but then there’s no harm done.”
One of the contradictions of Silicon Valley visionaries (of which Andrew Yang is at least an honorary member) is how often the absolute faith in science and engineering to solve problems is associated with a surprisingly weak grasp of the subjects. The initial reaction to this phenomena is to assume there has to be more to it than that, some cool detail like a Lagrangian point, not enough to make the proposal feasible but at least enough to make it interesting.
But there is seldom more than meets the eye, the big, wildly ambitious ideas generally come down to nothing more than tired old sci-fi movie tropes.
If we are going to talk about giant space mirrors, we might as well do it right. Thank god for the comment section.