Anthropogenic aerosols and greenhouse gases (GHG) enter the atmosphere as peoples exercise their unalienable rights in pursuit of well-being and prosperity. Once airborne, the aerosols cool the Earth almost as much as co-emitted GHG warm it. This balancing act has masked an additional 1C of warming, should the aerosols disappear when phasing out the fossil fuels without compensatory solar radiation management. In this scenario, existing knowledge about ecosystem responses project a probable biological annihilation of already shifting and collapsing ecosystems. Rarely discussed, the inconvenient truth of the cooling effect of anthropogenic aerosols renders the sum of incremental adaptation measures insufficient for halting an ongoing extinction episode of complex life on this planet, regardless of the scale and speed of their implementation.
Here, we step back to take a holistic view of planet Earth to design a geoengineering project compatible with the laws of physics, empirical evidence of ecosystem functioning, and crucially the material, energy, economic, and sociopolitical constraints. MEER:ReflEction applies aluminum-coated glass mirror arrays for solar radiation management. We find it feasible and necessary to deploy the mirror arrays within single-digit years to fully rebalance Earth's energy. We find the cost for full implementation comparable to the projected increase in risk to global assets by 2030 in the event of inaction. We present decisive advantages and co-benefits, including a concurrent global transition to 100% solar energy, that make MEER:ReflEction the only feasible plan available to homo sapiens that optimizes its survival as a species and future prosperity as a people.