Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

World Needs Climate Emergency Backup Plan, Says Expert

Date:
November 10, 2008
Source:
Carnegie Institution
Summary:
In submitted testimony to the British Parliament, climate scientist said that while steep cuts in carbon emissions are essential to stabilizing global climate, there also needs to be a backup plan. Geoengineering solutions such as injecting dust into the atmosphere are risky, but may become necessary if emissions cuts are insufficient to stave off catastrophic warming. He urged that research into the pros and cons of geoengineering be made a high priority.

In submitted testimony to the British Parliament, climate scientist Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution said that while steep cuts in carbon emissions are essential to stabilizing global climate, there also needs to be a backup plan. Geoengineering solutions such as injecting dust into the atmosphere are risky, but may become necessary if emissions cuts are insufficient to stave off catastrophic warming. He urged that research into the pros and cons of geoengineering be made a high priority.

"We need a climate engineering research and development plan, in addition to strong measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions" testified Caldeira, a faculty member of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology in Stanford, California, at an inquiry on geoengineering convened by the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee of the House of Commons on November 10. "Prudence demands that we consider what we might do in the face of unacceptable climate damage, which could occur despite our best efforts to rein in greenhouse gas emissions," he said.

Climate engineering (or geoengineering) refers to controversial proposals to deliberately modify the Earth's environment on a large scale, primarily to counteract greenhouse warming. One scheme would cool the planet by injecting dust into the upper atmosphere to scatter incoming sunlight. Other possibilities include enhancing cloud cover over the oceans. Critics question the effectiveness of these schemes and worry that tampering with the Earth's systems would create as many problems as they solve. But others warn that currently accelerating carbon emissions may push the planet's climate system to a tipping point, making drastic measures necessary to prevent an environmental calamity.

"Science is needed to address critical questions, among them: How effective would various climate engineering proposals be at achieving their climate goals? What unintended outcomes might result? How might these unintended outcomes affect both human and natural systems?" said Caldeira. "Engineering is needed both to build deployable systems and to keep the science focused on what's technically feasible."

Caldeira advocates a university-based research effort involving scientists and engineers representing a range of disciplines. "A climate engineering research plan should be built around important questions rather than preconceived answers," he advised the committee. "It should anticipate and embrace innovation and recognize that a portfolio of divergent but defensible paths is most likely to reveal a successful path forward; we should be wary of assuming that we've already thought of the most promising approaches or the most important unintended consequences."

"Only fools find joy in the prospect of climate engineering. It's also foolish to think that risk of significant climate damage can be denied or wished away," he said. "Perhaps we can depend on the transcendent human capacity for self-sacrifice when faced with unprecedented, shared, long-term risk, and therefore can depend on future reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. But just in case, we'd better have a plan."

The session including Caldeira's oral testimony is scheduled for November 10, 20008, at 5:00 PM GMT (12:00 Noon US EST).

Full submitted statement (go to page 99) is available at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmdius/memo/1264/contents.htm


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Carnegie Institution. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Carnegie Institution. "World Needs Climate Emergency Backup Plan, Says Expert." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081107143851.htm>.
Carnegie Institution. (2008, November 10). World Needs Climate Emergency Backup Plan, Says Expert. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081107143851.htm
Carnegie Institution. "World Needs Climate Emergency Backup Plan, Says Expert." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081107143851.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cellphone Unlocking Bill Clears U.S. House, Heads to Obama

Cellphone Unlocking Bill Clears U.S. House, Heads to Obama

Reuters - US Online Video (July 27, 2014) Congress gets rid of pesky law that made it illegal to "unlock" mobile phones without permission, giving consumers the option to use the same phone on a competitor's wireless network. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins