Artificial trees, depicted here amidst an offshore wind farm, could be used to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
Governments 'eager' to divert climate funding to geoengineering
17th December, 2009
Governments that are considering funding geoengineering experiments are the same ones that have failed to pay for conventional mitigation or adaptation to climate change
Decisions about geo-engineering are rushing ahead without proper public or international debate, according to a report prepared by the Canadian environmental group ETC.
As climate change predictions worsen and international negotiations prove slow and unambitious, 'quick, techno-fix' solutions that designed to alter the world's climate are gaining support.
The report, 'Retooling the planet', says there has been a rapid increase in media and scientific coverage of geo-engineering solutions from blasting sulphur into the atmosphere to deflect the sun's rays to putting gigantic reflective mirrors in space.
'Geo-engineering of oceans, atmosphere and land has gone from science-fiction to serious discussion by policy-makers and scientists in just a few years,' says the report.
Some governments, including the current US administration, are already discussing the MAG approach (mitigation, adaption and geoengineering) for tackling climate change.
'These governments will eagerly divert climate change funding away from climate change mitigation and adaption towards geoengineering if given the opportunity,' say the ETC authors.
The report cites two other major concerns. First, that geoengineering would divert vital funding for mitigation and adaption.
'While it may satisfy scientists to wave magic wands around the globe, it simply takes money away from real solutions on the ground,' its authors write.
'Big science', they said, should work with Southern governments, local communities, indigenous peoples and peasant farmers already trying to respond to this crisis.
The report continues: 'In the absence of public debate and the issue of potential impact of any techniques deployed on rich and poor countries - geoengineering is an act of geopiracy.'
The ETC authors also expressed concern that failure on tackling emissions would lead countries to jumping ahead with technological solutions.
'So many environmental problems are due to neglect of precaution. Instead of assessing new technologies carefully before commercialising and spreading them widely, both corporations and governments are all too willing to "leap before they look" - with hard and painful consequences hitting back years later.'
They said that no-one could say for certain what impact intentional geoengineering would have on the earth's systems.
'Geo-engineering is likely to have unintended consequences as well as unequal impacts around the world. In the same way as Industrial Revolution's unintended geoengineering experiment has disproportionately harmed people living in tropical and subtropical areas of the world,' said the report.
Report's eight reasons against geoengineering:
Retooling the planet
Dumping iron sulphate into the ocean, or, how to 'geo-engineer' the climate
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