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Recent Science
On The Possible Use Of Geoengineering To Moderate Specific Climate Change Impacts
Author Name: Michael MacCracken
Publication: Environmental Research Letters
Publication Date: October 30, 2009

With significant reductions in emissions likely to require decades and the impacts of projected climate change likely to become more and more severe, proposals for taking deliberate action to counterbalance global warming have been proposed as an important complement to reducing emissions. While a number of geoengineering approaches have been proposed, each introduces uncertainties, complications and unintended consequences that have only begun to be explored. For limiting and reversing global climate change over periods of years to decades, solar radiation management, particularly injection of sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere, has emerged as the leading approach, with mesospheric reflectors and satellite deflectors also receiving attention. For a number of reasons, tropospheric approaches to solar radiation management present greater challenges if the objective is to reduce the increase in global average temperature. However, such approaches have a number of advantages if the objective is to alleviate specific consequences of climate change expected to cause significant impacts for the environment and society. Among the most damaging aspects of the climate that might be countered are: the warming of low-latitude oceans that observations suggest contribute to more intense tropical cyclones and coral bleaching; the amplified warming of high latitudes and the associated melting of ice that has been accelerating sea level rise and altering mid-latitude weather; and the projected reduction in the loading and cooling influence of sulfate aerosols, which has the potential to augment warming sufficient to trigger methane and carbon feedbacks. For each of these impacts, suitable scientific, technological, socioeconomic, and governance research has the potential to lead to tropospheric geoengineering approaches that, with a well-funded research program, could begin playing a moderating role for some aspects of climate change within a decade.

Toward Ethical Norms And Institutions For Climate Engineering Research
Author Name: David R Morrow
Publication: Environmental Research Letters
Publication Date: October 30, 2009

Climate engineering (CE), the intentional modification of the climate in order to reduce the effects of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations, is sometimes touted as a potential response to climate change. Increasing interest in the topic has led to proposals for empirical tests of hypothesized CE techniques, which raise serious ethical concerns. We propose three ethical guidelines for CE researchers, derived from the ethics literature on research with human and animal subjects, applicable in the event that CE research progresses beyond computer modeling. The Principle of Respect requires that the scientific community secure the global public's consent, voiced through their governmental representatives, before beginning any empirical research. The Principle of Beneficence and Justice requires that researchers strive for a favorable risk–benefit ratio and a fair distribution of risks and anticipated benefits, all while protecting the basic rights of affected individuals. Finally, the Minimization Principle requires that researchers minimize the extent and intensity of each experiment by ensuring that no experiments last longer, cover a greater geographical extent, or have a greater impact on the climate, ecosystem, or human welfare than is necessary to test the specific hypotheses in question. Field experiments that might affect humans or ecosystems in significant ways should not proceed until a full discussion of the ethics of CE research occurs and appropriate institutions for regulating such experiments are established.

Researching Geoengineering: Should Not Or Could Not?
Author Name: Martin Bunzl
Publication: Environmental Research Letters
Publication Date: October 30, 2009

Is geoengineering a feasible, sensible, or practical stopgap measure for us to have in our arsenal of potential responses to global warming? We do not know at this point and so it seems hardly contentious to claim that we should find out. I evaluate a moral argument that we should not try to find out and a methodological argument that even if we try, we cannot find out. I reject the first but end up as agnostic on the second, outlining the burden of proof that it creates for proponents of geoengineering research.

Climate Engineering And The Risk Of Rapid Climate Change
Author Name: Andrew Ross and H Damon Matthews
Publication: Environmental Research Letters
Publication Date: October 30, 2009

Recent research has highlighted risks associated with the use of climate engineering as a method of stabilizing global temperatures, including the possibility of rapid climate warming in the case of abrupt removal of engineered radiative forcing. In this study, we have used a simple climate model to estimate the likely range of temperature changes associated with implementation and removal of climate engineering. In the absence of climate engineering, maximum annual rates of warming ranged from 0.015 to 0.07 °C/year, depending on the model's climate sensitivity. Climate engineering resulted in much higher rates of warming, with the temperature change in the year following the removal of climate engineering ranging from 0.13 to 0.76 °C. High rates of temperature change were sustained for two decades following the removal of climate engineering; rates of change of 0.5 (0.3,0.1) °C/decade were exceeded over a 20 year period with 15% (75%, 100%) likelihood. Many ecosystems could be negatively affected by these rates of temperature change; our results suggest that climate engineering in the absence of deep emissions cuts could arguably constitute increased risk of dangerous anthropogenic interference in the climate system under the criteria laid out in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Of Mongooses And Mitigation: Ecological Analogues To Geoengineering
Author Name: H Damon Matthews et al
Publication: Environmental Research Letters
Publication Date: October 30, 2009

Anthropogenic global warming is a growing environmental problem resulting from unintentional human intervention in the global climate system. If employed as a response strategy, geoengineering would represent an additional intentional human intervention in the climate system, with the intent of decreasing net climate impacts. There is a rich and fascinating history of human intervention in environmental systems, with many specific examples from ecology of deliberate human intervention aimed at correcting or decreasing the impact of previous unintentionally created problems. Additional interventions do not always bring the intended results, and in many cases there is evidence that net impacts have increased with the degree of human intervention. In this letter, we report some of the examples in the scientific literature that have documented such human interventions in environmental systems, which may serve as analogues to geoengineering. We argue that a high degree of system understanding is required for increased intervention to lead to decreased impacts. Given our current level of understanding of the climate system, it is likely that the result of at least some geoengineering efforts would follow previous ecological examples where increased human intervention has led to an overall increase in negative environmental consequences.

The Next Generation Of Iron Fertilization Experiments In The Southern Ocean
Author Name: V. Smetacek, S.W.A. Naqvi
Publication: publication
Publication Date: August 29, 2008

Of the various macro-engineering schemes proposed to mitigate global warming, ocean iron fertilization (OIF) is one that could be started at short notice on relevant scales. It is based on the reasoning that adding trace amounts of iron to iron-limited phytoplankton of the Southern Ocean will lead to blooms, mass sinking of organic matter and ultimately sequestration of significant amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) in the deep sea and sediments. This iron hypothesis, proposed by John Martin in 1990 (Martin 1990 Paleoceanography 5, 1–13), has been tested by five mesoscale experiments that provided strong support for its first condition: stimulation of a diatom bloom accompanied by significant CO2 drawdown. Nevertheless, a number of arguments pertaining to the fate of bloom biomass, the ratio of iron added to carbon sequestered and various side effects of fertilization, continue to cast doubt on its efficacy. The idea is also unpopular with the public because it is perceived as meddling with nature. However, this apparent consensus against OIF is premature because none of the published experiments were specifically designed to test its second condition pertaining to the fate of iron-induced organic carbon. Furthermore, the arguments on side effects are based on worst-case scenarios. These doubts, formulated as hypotheses, need to be tested in the next generation of OIF experiments. We argue that such experiments, if carried out at appropriate scales and localities, will not only show whether the technique will work, but will also reveal a wealth of insights on the structure and functioning of pelagic ecosystems in general and the krill-based Southern Ocean ecosystem, in particular. The outcomes of current models on the efficacy and side effects of OIF differ widely, so data from adequately designed experiments are urgently needed for realistic parametrization. OIF is likely to boost zooplankton stocks, including krill, which could have a positive effect on recovery of the great whale populations. Negative effects of possible commercialization of OIF can be controlled by the establishment of an international body headed by scientists to supervise and monitor its implementation.

Ocean Fertilization: A Potential Means Of Geoengineering
Author Name: Lampitt, et al.
Publication Date: August 29, 2008

The oceans sequester carbon from the atmosphere partly as a result of biological productivity. Over much of the ocean surface, this productivity is limited by essential nutrients and we discuss whether it is likely that sequestration can be enhanced by supplying limiting nutrients. Various methods of supply have been suggested and we discuss the efficacy of each and the potential side effects that may develop as a result. Our conclusion is that these methods have the potential to enhance sequestration but that the current level of knowledge from the observations and modelling carried out to date does not provide a sound foundation on which to make clear predictions or recommendations. For ocean fertilization to become a viable option to sequester CO2, we need more extensive and targeted fieldwork and better mathematical models of ocean biogeochemical processes. Models are needed both to interpret field observations and to make reliable predictions about the side effects of large-scale fertilization. They would also be an essential tool with which to verify that sequestration has effectively taken place. There is considerable urgency to address climate change mitigation and this demands that new fieldwork plans are developed rapidly. In contrast to previous experiments, these must focus on the specific objective which is to assess the possibilities of CO2 sequestration through fertilization.

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