Monday, November 20, 2006

Geoengineering Starting to Gain Respectability

One sure sign that attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale are failing is the recent increased interest in academic and government circles in climate manipulation through geoengineering. The Boston Globe has reported that this past weekend a wide range of intellectuals met to discuss how to go about researching strategies for geoengineering schemes to cool the Earth if necessary because of global warming. The two-day meeting was organized by NASA and Stanford University. One of the climate scientists at the meeting, Ken Caldeira from Stanford, said climate modeling shows that his idea of blocking 20 percent of the sunlight over the Arctic Ocean could restore sea ice. Although Caldeira’s idea and other ideas that have been advanced to cool the Earth by blocking sunlight may seem way too far out to be worth pursuing such ideas continue to gain ground as confidence in being able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally wanes. This loss of confidence is certainly easy to understand. It has been 18 years since NASA climate scientist James Hansen gained media attention by describing the dangers of global warming and 15 years since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scientifically documented the risk of not taking action and still no real progress has been made. In fact, it has been estimated that the annual rate of increase in global carbon emissions is several times higher than it was during the 1990s and the two biggest greenhouse gas polluters, the United States and China, are so far refusing to cap carbon emissions. We have to hope that that there will never be reason to attempt a geoengineering fix to the global warming problem but from all appeances the odds of it happening are slowly beginning to grow.

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