Argument: Geoengineering is important to research, keep on table

Issue Report: Geoengineering


“Weird science: Consider geoengineering to fight global warming.” Christian Science Monitor. April 2nd, 2010: “Any research will have to be carefully thought out. It must be conducted with caution, openness, international cooperation, and humility. […] Not beginning, though, risks not being ready should a worst-case scenario arise in future decades. It’s better to determine the best ideas and carefully test them, in order to make implementing geoengineering – if that ever becomes necessary – as low-risk as possible. […] Yes, the world could be cracking open a Pandora’s box. But in the case of geoengineering, knowledge is better than ignorance.”

Eli Kintisch’s new book, Hack the Planet: “Geoengineering is a bad idea whose time has come. It is something that you have to study and hope to never use. [For the atomic scientists], the other side has nuclear weapons and they are pointed at you, so you have no choice but to develop a deterrent. In this case, the nuclear weapons are the unknown chance that the planet’s sensitivity to CO2 is very high and will respond to some of these worst-case tipping points.

Scientist feel they have no choice but to develop this response that viscerally is almost sickening to many scientists, especially someone like David Battisti, who thinks a lot about the internal dynamics of the climate system and understands how hard it is to understand how the parts fit together and then predict its behavior.”[1]

In the New York Times, Ken Caldeira, of the Global Ecology Department at Stanford makes his case: “This is not to say that we should give up trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Ninety-nine percent of the $3 billion federal Climate Change Technology Program should still go toward developing climate-friendly energy systems. But 1 percent of that money could be put toward working out geoengineered climate fixes like sulfate particles in the atmosphere, and developing the understanding we need to ensure that they wouldn’t just make matters worse.”[2]

David Keith, a director in the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy, said in September of 2010: “Ignorance is not a sensible strategy. It’s better to know something about this tool, both whether it works and whether it doesn’t work.”[3]