Geostorm and Geoengineering: One Planet, One People, One Future

6th November 2017

The new Geostorm disaster movie stars Gerard Butler as a scientist trying to save the planet from a rogue weather-altering satellite.

The plot is based around climate change becoming so bad, that the resulting extreme weather events need to be managed by us to prevent further runaway climate change. Humanity therefore builds a satellite system called ‘Dutch Boy’, to manage, stop and prevent weather events. The satellite project is led by the Americans, and is just about to transfer into the hands of the international community, when a senior government official interferes with the functioning of the system.

One thing this film shows us is the danger of not acting on climate change and relying on last resort geoengineering measures. Geoengineering is where humans cause a deliberate large-scale intervention in the Earth’s natural systems to counteract climate change (source: Oxford Engineering Programme).

I believe geoengineering is something that needs to be avoided at all costs – this is NOT a solution to the climate crisis. While the Dutch Boy satellite in the movie is a very extreme version of geoengineering, and arguably an unfeasible solution, the point still needs to be made that interfering with our climate as a means of trying to ‘hack’ our way out of the dire situation we find ourselves in, is not the way forward!

I think one suitable analogy, would be comparing geoengineering to dialysis. Imagine you’re a heavy drinker and a heavy smoker. After decades, your kidney stops functioning properly and doctors warn that if you don’t change your lifestyle, then you’ll be put on dialysis. Those bad habits, are the same as our reliance on fossil fuels, which are causing climate change. So actively choosing geoengineering, is the equivalent of choosing to keep our dirty habits (and avoid making difficult changes), and opting for a life-support system. If we go down the geo-engineering route, we’re choosing life-support over life. There is no guarantee that geoengineering will work; it could make things much worse.

Would I recommend watching the film? Well parts of the dialogue were a bit cringe-worthy, but overall it’s worth watching to understand that we’re almost in a position now where we’ll be considering something of this scale to try and maintain a liveable planet.

I’d like to leave you with one modified quote from the film, which shows how important unity is in times like these, where the challenges we face are global and will affect every single one of us:

One planet. One people. One future.”

I hope our leaders are listening, because we don’t get a redo if we mess this up.