Tuesday, September 01, 2009

UK Royal Society Gives Geoengineering the Okay for Future Research

Geoengineering schemes to combat global warming got a boost from a study by the UK Royal Society which came to the conclusion that it is technically possible for geoengineering to play a role and research on the schemes should go forward. A report from BBC News says that the Society found that of the two basic approaches, carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere and reflecting sunlight, that the former was preferred. It may turn out that whether of not geoengineering schemes to alter the climate are technically possible may be beside the point as the study noted that “The greatest challenges to the successful deployment of geoengineering may be to social, ethical, legal and political issues associated with governance rather than scientific issues.” Yes, this could be one heck of a mess. Perhaps the best advice from this study is the recommendation for an international body to come up with some sort of procedure whereby treaties could be devised for determining who would have responsibility for carrying out the research that might have risks and benefits on a global scale. The situation we are in was nicely summarized by the chairman of the study group, Professor John Shepherd from the University of South Hampton, who said "Geoengineering and its consequences are the price we may have to pay for failure to act on climate change.” If things go unexpectedly wrong that could be quite a high price.

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