A Republican congressman yesterday suggested altering the moon’s orbit might be a solution to climate change, asking the US Forest Service if this was something they could accomplish.

“I was informed by the immediate past director of NASA that they’ve found that the moon’s orbit is changing slightly and so is the Earth’s orbit around the sun. We know there’s been significant solar flare activity,” Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas said. “And so, is there anything that the National Forest Service or BLM can do to change the course of the moon’s orbit or the Earth’s orbit around the sun? Obviously, that would have profound effects on our climate.”

The question was posed to Jennifer Eberlien, an associate deputy chief of the Forest Service. during a congressional House Natural Resources Committee hearing. 

 Ms. Eberlien responded that she would have to get back to Gohmert.

Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., offered his own solution to Gohmert on Twitter on Wednesday, suggesting that Marvel Comics’ character Captain Marvel could handle the job.

“She can alter planetary orbits with her superpowers. I’m going to work on a bipartisan resolution asking for her help,”

Rep. Gohmert’s suggestion loosely falls in the category of geoengineering, which advocates deliberating manipulation of the planet’s systems to address climate change.

In a 2020 Wired magazine article Geoengineering Is the Only Solution to Our Climate Calamities, authors Parag Khanna and Michael Ferrari figurately call for “geoengineering moon shots” to address the climate crisis.

If the Industrial Revolution and borderless capitalism are the forces that have brought us to this environmental apotheosis, then it will have to be geoengineering moon shots and scientific collaboration that buy us time to reverse the damage. Geoengineering proposals generally fall into two categories: removing carbon from the atmosphere, or shielding Earth from solar radiation.

In the past two decades, they write, only two of a couple dozen attempts to capture carbon in the sea have met with any success. The news is not much better in the field of solar engineering where there is only one viable project in the works right now— “Harvard’s Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx), which plans to inject calcium carbonate particles high above the Earth to reflect some of the sun’s rays back into space, effectively simulating a volcanic explosion over a small patch of desert in the southwestern US.” 

The environmental “Manhattan Project” we need would also require pooling together the innovation and resources of Bill Gates, who has invested billions in concentrated solar power and fusion reactors, Elon Musk, who has nearly single-handedly created the supply and the demand for a commercially viable market for electric vehicles, and potentially Jeff Bezos, whose Earth Fund is directing at least $10 billion towards climate initiatives, as well as other tech visionaries and the research organizations they support. Hopefully, today’s climate protagonists are already working to launch a range of geoengineering schemes, even if they have to do so in secret, shielded from climate-change-denying politicians and interest groups masquerading in the name of democratic accountability.

The authors contend that not all geoengineering is “the stuff of Hollywood fantasy.” Carbon sinks could be created by planting billions of trees “from Canada and Russia to Brazil and China;” cloud seeding could help alleviate drought, and “ Coating fresh ice with white sand to reflect more light so it can strengthen rather than melt is another less invasive treatment for the wounded Earth. Of course, each of these approaches has its own challenges and limitations, ones that will require us to commit resources other than simply flying diplomats to summits to sign empty promises. Let us not pretend there is any other way to reduce the widening climate injustice.”

Author Avantika Goswami, in his piece Why geoengineering is still a dangerous, techno-utopian dream, notes that opponents of geoengineering, such as climate activist Naomi Klein, are leery about “taking our ecosystems even further away from self-regulation” without knowing the potential harmful impacts significant geoengineering experiments might have on the planet’s ecosystems.

And some of these consequences are already known. Solar geoengineering, for example, alters rainfall patterns that can disrupt agriculture and water supplies.

Injecting sulfate aerosols in the stratosphere above the Arctic to mimic volcano clouds, for example, can disrupt the monsoons in Asia and increase droughts, particularly in Africa, endangering food and water sources for two billion people, according to Silvia Ribeiro, the Latin America Director for ETC group.