Does the Paris Agreement Open the Door to Geoengineering?

If we’re serious keeping warming “well below 2°C, geoengineering may be necessary.

The Paris establishes an aspiration goal of holding climate change to 1.5°C, with a firmer goal of holding the global temperature decrease “well below” 2°C. As a practical matter, the 1.5°C goal almost certainly would require geoengineering, such as injecting aerosols into the stratosphere or solar mirrors. Even getting well below 2°C is likely to …


Climate Engineering: National Academy Committee recommends starting research (with limits)

An NAS report on controversial engineered responses to climate change gets all the big things right, but avoids the hardest questions

Earlier this week, the National Research Council Committee on Geoengineering Climate released two reports, “Climate Intervention: Carbon Dioxide Removal and Reliable Sequestration” and “Climate Intervention: Reflecting Sunlight to Cool Earth.” Requested and funded by several US federal departments – NASA, NOAA, DOE, and the cutely labeled “U.S. Intelligence Community” – this report is the first …


Is geoengineering inevitable?

There’s been a lot of attention paid to a geoengineering “experiment” conducted recently in the North Pacific.  A team distributed iron into the ocean:  This is a form of geoengineering because, in many parts of oceans around the world, iron is the main nutrient that limits the growth and productivity of phytoplankton.  If you add more iron in …


What’s New on the Seven Seas?

The scientific journal Nature reports on two recent research findings.  One is bad news.  I think the other is good news, but not everyone will agree. The first report (the bad news) is a reminder that ecological harm is a cumulative process: The [new] study suggests that the cold weather was the first of three …


Geoengineering and Conflicts of Interest?

Is it unethical for scientists studying techniques to geoengineer the earth’s climate to advocate for additional government funding to expand the study of the science and geopolitics of the topic?  That’s the conclusion of a recent Guardian article that criticizes Harvard’s David Keith and the Carnegie Institute’s Ken Caldeira for a) receiving outside money to …


Tough Political Choices On Climate Are Hardly Unique to U.S: The Case of Germany and Nuclear Power

German Chancellor Angela Merkel made headlines this week when she announced that the country would phase out its nuclear power plants by 2022.  The Fukishima nuclear crisis in Japan led Germany to review its reliance on nuclear power and the result of that review was Merkel’s decision to shut down the country’s existing plants. Here’s …


Does the Earth Need Chemo?

In a recent conversation, a Berkeley climate scientist compared geoengineering to chemo: you may find out it’s your only choice, but it would be better not to get cancer in the first place.  Likewise, we might need geoengineering, but it would be better if we didn’t pump the atmosphere full of carbon. Nevertheless, it’s important …


China’s Growth in Energy Usage Truly Alarming

Cara blogged earlier this week about the fact that U.S. emissions were down “a whopping 7 % in 2009.”  Just when you might have been thinking that we are headed in the right direction on the climate change front, today’s New York Times has a distressing story about Chinese emissions.  The take home point: Coal-fired electricity …


Should We Run Some Controlled Climate Change Experiments?

Controlled experiments in general are the best way of doing science, but we haven’t been able to take advantage of that in science research. Considering the importance of the climate change issue, it might be worth taking a serious look at this possibility, even if it does seem a little outside the box.


Overall impressions of COP/MOP: World Governance for the Climate-as-Artifact

By Jed Ela, UCLA Law delegation — part of a series of posts on COP 15 from Copenhagen: Deep in the bowels of COP15, in a temporary, metal-walled conference room nestled like a shipping container into a vast temporary hangar housing national delegation offices, a presenter from Google is apologizing. The Google team has lured …