Friday, September 4, 2009

Geoengineering May Be Mandatory, Royal Society Says

by Jeff St. John

The Royal Society says grand-scale geoengineering schemes, like massive tree-planting campaigns or shooting sulfur into the atmosphere to block sunlight, may be needed to stop global warming.

Geoengineering may not be a last resort to fight global warming any longer – that is, if us humans can't get our act together to reduce the carbon dioxide we're pumping into the atmosphere.

That's the warning that emerged from a Royal Society report published Tuesday. Grand, expensive and uncertain engineering projects – think installing carbon-scrubbing devices across continents or shooting aerosols into the atmosphere to block sunlight – may be humankind's only shot at slowing man-made global warming, the report's authors warn.

That's because current efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions aren't going far enough, the report's authors contend.

The world needs to cut atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to half of what they were in 1990 by 2050, but right now, "Global efforts to reduce emissions have not yet been sufficiently successful to provide conīŦdence that the reductions needed to avoid dangerous climate change will be achieved," the report states.

"It is hoped that post-2012 emission reduction targets will stimulate greater action through more effective mechanisms," the report went on, referring to the upcoming United Nations talks in Copenhagen to craft a carbon-reduction agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol (see The Copenhagen Call: Biz Leaders Back GHG Reduction Efforts).

"But there is a serious risk that sufficient mitigation actions will not be introduced in time, despite the fact that the technologies required are both available and affordable," the report stated.

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