Big fixes for climate?
Scientists take a fresh look at geoengineering
Research into geoengineering, as these schemes are commonly known, has been going on for decades but has generally kept a low profile.
Researchers have feared that writing or saying anything on the topic would send a tacit message that global warming can't be reined in through emissions cuts alone.
However, an increasing number of scientists believe that we are transforming our energy system far too slowly to avoid the risk of a catastrophe.
Some of these scientists are now looking more thoroughly at geoengineering techniques that might be deployed if the situation becomes dire enough.
Even with some consequences poorly understood—and others yet to be identified—the new studies are attempting to lay out the pros and cons of geoengineering in more detail than previous research.
Though many geoengineering proposals have been floated at conferences and in the media over the last few years, little analysis has been published in peer-reviewed journals.
At least two other analyses of geoengineering techniques appeared in major journals [last] autumn, and a landmark invitation-only workshop [in November 2006], sponsored by NASA and the Carnegie Institution, pulled together more than 40 scientists for a frank discussion of how humans might "manage" solar radiation and whether or not this is even advisable.
"The goal was to educate ourselves about the various proposals, identify important technical and scientific questions, and come up with steps for moving a research program forward," says workshop chair Ken Caldeira (Stanford University)(click for more on this story)