The Sciences

House Science Committee Endorses Geoengineering Research

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyNov 1, 2010 11:40 AM


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It's just the next stage in the mainstreaming of geoengineering: Now the House Committee on Science, chaired by Bart Gordon, has released a report supporting further research on the topic--not to the detriment of capping emissions, but because capping emissions might not be enough. Here's the punchline:

Climate engineering, also known as geoengineering, can be described as the deliberate large scalemodification of the earth’s climate systems for the purposes of counteracting and mitigatingclimate change. As this subject becomes the focus of more serious consideration and scrutinywithin the scientific and policy communities, it is important to acknowledge that climateengineering carries with it not only possible benefits, but also an enormous range of uncertainties,ethical and political concerns, and the potential for harmful environmental and economic side effects.I believe that reducing greenhouse gas emissions should be the first priority of anydomestic or international climate initiative. Nothing should distract us from this priority, andclimate engineering must not divert any of the resources dedicated to greenhouse gas reductionsand clean energy development. However, we are facing an unfortunate reality. The global climateis already changing and the onset of climate change impacts may outpace the world’s political,technical, and economic capacities to prevent and adapt to them. Therefore, policymakers shouldbegin consideration of climate engineering research now to better understand which technologies ormethods, if any, represent viable stopgap strategies for managing our changing climate and whichpose unacceptable risks.

You can access the full report here.

Honestly, one shouldn't find the conclusion surprising. Anyone who really understands the scope of the climate problem, and the cost considerations that go along with mitigation, ends up being forced toward a view like this one. That's just how reality works these days.

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