Geoengineering

Antacids for the Sea: Artificial Ocean Alkalinization

A potential tool for adaptation and carbon removal, but more research is needed.

The carbonate cycle helps make the oceans one of the largest carbon sinks on the planet. As the oceans’ surface waters mingle with the open air, they absorb enormous amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2), storing it in the water as carbonic acid and carbonates and as limestone on the seafloor. The carbonate cycle is a …

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We Can’t Count on Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions to Prevent Dangerous Climate Change

Last week’s climate summit yielded little in the way of action. Photo via UNFCCC.

Although reducing emissions remains essential, it is time to focus on additional responses

Last month, representatives of all countries gathered for their annual meeting to prevent climate change. Despite the motto “Time for Action,” the New York Times described it as “one of the worst outcomes in a quarter-century of climate negotiations.” Should we be surprised? Disappointed? Despairing? I believe that insufficient cuts in greenhouse gas emissions — …

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Climate Change, Ozone Depletion, and the New York Times

The Montreal Protocol offers lessons for climate change, but not a role model

In an extended piece yesterday, The New York Times editorial board wrote that “The World Solved the Ozone Problem. It Can Solve Climate Change. The same tools that fixed the ozone hole — science, innovation and international action — can address.” Although the editorial was mostly correct, it missed what I believe to be the …

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Glacial Geoengineering and the Law of Antarctica

Could mega-adaptation projects in Antarctica slow the rise of global sea levels?

As the planet warms over the coming centuries, glacial melt in Greenland and Antarctica will lead to significant sea level rise. This phenomenon threatens to flood coastal cities, submerge island nations, and displace hundreds of millions of people. Coastal adaptation projects underway give us a glimpse into how we will respond to this future. Some …

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Sixth International Geoengineering Governance Summer School, 2019

A brief report from a recent Emmett-convened event

As the severity of climate change risks and the inability of current efforts to adequately limit risks become clear, geoengineering technologies – active large-scale environmental interventions to reduce disruptions caused by elevated greenhouse gases – are increasingly receiving attention and generating controversy. These proposals would either remove and sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide or modify the …

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Uncovering the Origins of False Claims in the Solar Geoengineering Discourse

ISO, the International Organization for Standardization

The story behind a recent news article reveals how activist groups—with the media’s help—cause misleading and false assertions to arise, persist, and spread.

Originally posted at Harvard’s Solar Geoengineering Research Program. Much of my work concerns solar geoengineering, a set of proposals to block or reflect a small portion of incoming sunlight in order to reduce global warming. Unfortunately, the discourse is rife with specious, misrepresented, and outright false statements – many of which are consistent with intuition – …

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The Governance of Solar Geoengineering: Managing Climate Change in the Anthropocene

The Governance of Solar Geoengineering: Managing Climate Change in the Anthropocene

My book is now available!

I interrupt my ongoing blog series on new biotechnologies and their governance (1, 2, 3) to announce that my book The Governance of Solar Geoengineering Managing: Climate Change in the Anthropocene is available today from Cambridge University Press. The brief description is: Climate change is among the world’s most important problems, and solutions based on …

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Governing Geoengineering at the United Nations? No, at Least Not Now

UN Environment Assembly

A proposed resolution falters at the UN Environment Assembly

At this week’s UN Environment Assembly, countries’ representatives debated a draft resolution regarding climate geoengineering. Unable to come to agreement, it was withdrawn Wednesday. This is not surprising to me, as — for the most part — leaders presently lack political incentives to take action. I am also not particularly disappointed, because a counter-productive resolution seemed fairly …

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Does the Fossil Fuel Industry Support Geoengineering?

Fuel to the Fire

A misleading new report from Center for International Environmental Law and the Heinrich Boell Foundation demeans the discourse

Geoengineering is controversial in the climate change community, and understandably so. Proposed interventions like negative emissions technologies (a.k.a. carbon dioxide removal) and solar geoengineering (a.k.a. solar radiation management or SRM) — which some writers group together as “geoengineering” — involve large-scale intervention in the climate system that could have adverse physical or social impacts. At …

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Don’t Believe Everything That You Read

CNN solar geoengineering tweet

Solar geoengineering is often inaccurately portrayed in the media

If you had followed the climate change news over the weekend, you might have been shocked to see headlines such as “Scientists Prescribe a Healthy Dose of Sulphate Particles to Promote Global Cooling on the Cheap.” CNN tweeted that “Harvard and Yale scientists are proposing that we tackle climate change by dimming the sun.” And …

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