Posted by Big Gav in geoengineering
Next100 has a look at recent events in the world of geoengineering politics - GEOENGINEERING GETS A BOOST.
Geoengineering--the planned alteration of planetary-scale systems--is a highly controversial approach to solving an increasingly desperate problem: global warming. Critics have condemned it "somewhere between a dead end and a hoax," while White House science adviser John Holdren said, "It's got to be looked at." The credibility of this outsized concept got a big boost this week from a major policy pronouncement by the American Meteorological Society.
As covered extensively in NEXT100, geoengineering proposals run the gamut from fostering the growth of carbon-absorbing plankton by fertilizing the oceans, to reflecting more sunlight by seeding clouds, to locking up carbon in the form of biochar.
The AMS notes the wide range of possible risks, including adverse local climate changes that might disrupt some countries and peoples even if geoengineering stabilized the global temperature. And some measures that address symptoms--for example, by increasing solar reflection--"would not diminish the direct effects of elevated CO2 concentrations such as ocean acidification or changes to the structure and function of biological systems."
All that said, given that past greenhouse gas emissions are almost certain to cause "dangerous climate changes," the society recommended stepping up research on climate geoengineering, including the environmental ethical, legal and social implications.
While reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a top priority, geoengineering "could contribute to a comprehensive risk management strategy to slow climate change and alleviate some of its negative impacts," the society declared. "The potential to help society cope with climate change and the risks of adverse consequences imply a need for adequate research, appropriate regulation, and transparent deliberation."