Geoengineering Prerequisites

No examples exist of previous attempts to manage environmental problems at a global scale using technology-based strategies from which we may learn about potential pitfalls. However, the lessons we've learned from the unintended global-scale changes resulting from human activities and technologies apply to the use of geoengineering. Anthropogenic greenhouse gas-induced climate change is one example. Other unintended changes include long-term damage to Earth's protective stratospheric ozone layer through the use and emission of synthetic chlorofluorcar-bons and the global ecosystems damage induced by wide-spread use of persistent organic pesticides and herbicides (persistent organic pollutants or POPs). We have learned from the consequences of these activities that the benefits of a new technology must be balanced against potential environmental costs.

The implementation of any of the proposals discussed here will be costly and their capacity, on an individual basis, for mitigating climate warming without significant, negative global consequences appears limited. However, the implementation of an ensemble of these proposals, at scales that limit harmful downstream impacts, may yet be an option available to the global environmental policy, if circumstances demand it. However, before serious attempts are undertaken to directly manage the earth's climate system, an integrated risk assessment/risk management decision framework inter-comparing the management options available, is needed.

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