Geoengineering on a Desperate Planet — UN Declares Global Moratorium

By Stephen Leahy

NAGOYA, Japan, Oct 25, 2010 (Tierramérica)

[Update 30 October 2 am. Global moratorium passes.]

Delegates to the world summit on biodiversity here are calling for a moratorium on climate engineering research, like the idea of putting huge mirrors in outer space to reflect some of the sun’s heating rays away from the planet.

Climate engineering or geoengineering refers to any large-scale, human- made effort to manipulate the planet to adapt to climate change.

Representatives from Africa and Asia expressed concern about the negative impacts of geoengineering during the opening week of the 10th Conference of Parties (COP 10) to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Oct. 18-29. They were joined by civil society organisations in calling for a moratorium on geoengineering experiments.

The geoengineering proposals include installing giant vertical pipes in the ocean to bring cold water to the surface, pumping vast amounts of sulphates into the stratosphere to block sunlight, or blowing ocean salt spray into clouds to increase their reflectivity.

The geoengineering proposals include installing giant vertical pipes in the ocean to bring cold water to the surface, pumping vast amounts of sulphates into the stratosphere to block sunlight, or blowing ocean salt spray into clouds to increase their reflectivity.

Broadly speaking, there are two main geoengineering approaches: solar radiation management and carbon sequestration, in other words, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to reduce the concentration of this greenhouse-effect gas.

Is this article of interest? It exists thanks to contributions from readers. Please click here to learn more about Community Supported Journalism.

To manage the sun’s rays, there are ideas like releasing sulphates into the atmosphere or placing giant mirrors in outer space. For absorbing carbon, the possible approaches include ocean fertilisation, in which iron or nitrogen is added to seawater to stimulate the growth of phytoplankton to sequester the carbon deep in the ocean.

“Some of the proponents of these technologies think it’s easier to ‘manage the sun’ than get people to take a bus” to reduce carbon in the atmosphere, said Pat Mooney, executive director of the ETC Group, an international environmental organisation headquartered in Canada. [etc “Geopiracy” report]

“Politicians in rich countries see geoengineering as ‘Plan B’ so they don’t have to make the hard choices of reducing emissions causing climate change,” Mooney told Tierramérica.

Continue reading

GW Desperation Drives Slightly Mad Ideas

coral-sea-oz.jpg

Climate Change: Time For Some Slightly Mad Ideas?
By Stephen Leahy

Sep 28 (IPS) – Lack of governmental action on climate change is forcing scientists to consider radical climate geo-engineering schemes such as giant vertical pipes in the ocean and growing vast blooms of plankton to try and prevent the worst from happening.

Companies backing some of these schemes hope to profit from the rising public clamour for action and politicians desperate to avoid serious reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

“I wasn’t in favour of geo-engineering before, but we haven’t done well in reducing emissions,” said Chris Rapley, director of the Science Museum in London and former head of the British Antarctic Survey.

In fact, the global community continues on the “business as usual” path in terms of emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), thus increasing the chances of catastrophic climate change, Rapley, a climate change expert, told IPS.

“Just look at how incredibly quick the Arctic sea ice is melting,” he said. Continue reading