Geoengineering Direct Mitigation of Climate Warming

Brooke L. Hemmingf and Gayle S.W. Hagler

Abstract With the concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHGs) rising to levels unprecedented in the current glacial epoch, the earth's climate system appears to be rapidly shifting into a warmer regime. Many in the international science and policy communities fear that the fundamental changes in human behavior, and in the global economy, that will be required to meaningfully reduce GHG emissions in the very near term are unattainable. In the 1970s, discussion of "geoengineering," a radical strategy for arresting climate change by intentional, direct manipulation of the Earth's energy balance began to appear in the climate science literature. With growing international concern about the pace of climate change, the scientific and public discourse on the feasibility of geoengineering has recently grown more sophisticated and more energetic. A wide array of potential geoengineering projects have been proposed, ranging from orbiting space mirrors to reduce solar flux to the construction of large networks of processors that directly remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Simple estimates of costs exist, and some discussion of both the potentially negative and "co-beneficial" consequences of these projects can be found in the scientific literature.

*The findings included in this chapter do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of the Environmental Protection Agency. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute Agency endorsement or recommendation for use. t © US Government 2G11

Air Pollution Prevention and Control Division, National Risk Management Research Laboratory, Office of Research and Development, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC

Currently with: Global Change Research Program, National Center for Environmental Assessment, Office of Research and Development, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC e-mail: [email protected]

Air Pollution Prevention and Control Division, National Risk Management Research Laboratory, Office of Research and Development, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC

F.T. Princiotta (ed.), Global Climate Change - The Technology Challenge, Advances in Global Change Research 38, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-3153-2_9, © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

The critical, missing piece in the discussion of geoengineering as a strategy for managing climate is an integrated evaluation of the downstream costs-versus-benefits inter-comparing all available climate management options, including geoengineering. Our examination of the literature revealed a number of substantial gaps in the knowledge base required for such an evaluation. Therefore, to ensure that the decision framework arising from this analysis is well founded, a focused program of scientific research to fill those gaps is also essential. As with any sound engineering plan, international decisions on how to address human-induced climate warming must be founded on a thoughtful and well-informed analysis of all of the available options.

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