By Christopher Carbone
Published August 27, 2019
Presidential candidate Andrew Yang's climate plan aims to get the U.S. to net-zero carbon emissions with a range of new initiatives -- including investing in major geoengineering projects like giant mirrors in space.
Like many of his fellow Democratic presidential candidates, Yang has proposed using a wide range of tools to ramp up renewable energy, reduce reliance on fossil fuels, establish new standards on emissions for buildings, cars and the entire electric grid, and boost nuclear energy capacity.
However, his 20-year, $4.87 trillion climate plan differs in one way, and that's in terms of geoengineering -- the notion that humans should take deliberate and large-scale action concerning climate in order to stop or slow down the planet's warming. Yang's plan would provide $800 million to NASA, the Department of Defense and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to research geoengineering, which includes investigating "giant foldable space mirrors" as an emergency measure of last resort.
"Space mirrors would involve launching giant foldable mirrors into space that would deploy and reflect much of the sun’s light [away from the planet]. This method would be extremely expensive, which is why it should be investigated as a last resort. However, since we would be able to “undo” the mirror after deployment if needed, it’s less permanent," Yang has written.
The entrepreneur proposed that America become a global leader in green technology.
"We’re the most entrepreneurial country in the history of the world. It’s time to activate the American imagination and work ethic to provide the innovation and technology that will power the rest of the world,” Yang wrote.
Although most mainstream climate plans proposed by Democratic presidential candidates have a technology investment component, one expert urged a bit of caution.
“I think that he’s essentially on the right track to focus on science and technology, but I think that his faith in technology may be a little bit misplaced,” Steven Cohen, director of the research program on sustainability policy and management at Columbia University's Earth Institute, told The Verge.
“It’s one thing to do the research ... but another thing to count on it to save the world.”