NY Times coverage of the recent MIT geoengineering conference.
Researchers who gathered at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology outlined a stark list of potential side effects of different climate engineering approaches, including further depleting the ozone layer, inducing drought and turning the blue sky white.
At the same time, many experts said geoengineering could be a planetary "Plan B," an option to exercise if cutting greenhouse gas emissions can't stave off dangerous climate change.
"Even if we cut emissions, we have a lot of carbon dioxide already in the air," said David Keith of the University of Calgary. "We don't know exactly how bad the climate response will be, and we have to think clearly about how we manage the risk posed by CO2 already in the air."
An ongoing MIT research project into the risks posed by different levels of greenhouse gas emissions suggests that even steep cuts won't guarantee the world will stay under the 2 degree Celsius climate guardrail espoused by many political leaders.
Stabilizing the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at the equivalent of 550 parts per million of CO2 -- a goal's that's "not easy," according to MIT Energy Initiative director Ron Prinn -- would give the world just a 25 percent chance of limiting temperature rise to 2 degrees between 1990 and 2090.
"Even with a very tough and expensive target, we are still at risk," Prinn said. "Hence, I think it's legitimate to begin thinking about geoengineering as something that should be on the table."