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Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999

FROM VOLUME 9, NUMBER 8, AUGUST 1996

PROFESSIONAL PUBLICATIONS...
GEOENGINEERING

Special Section. The following six papers, based on a symposium at the 1994 AAAS meeting, appear in Clim. Change, 33(3), July 1996, edited by G. Marland. They cover scientific, legal, technical, political and ethical questions.


Item #d96aug9

"Could We/Should We Engineer the Earth's Climate?' G. Marland (Environ. Sci Div., Oak Ridge Natl. Lab., Oak Ridge TN 37831), 275-278.

An introduction pointing out that the papers provide analysis, not advocacy, and raise technical possibilities while emphasizing risks and posing ethical concerns. These approaches are speculative, and relying on them now would be irresponsible, given our current understanding of the climate system.


Item #d96aug10

"Climate Engineering: A Review of Aerosol Approaches to Changing the Global Energy Balance," R.E. Dickinson (Inst. Atmos. Phys., Univ. Arizona, Tucson AZ 85721), 279-290.

Evaluates two approaches: employing aerosols in the stratosphere as direct reflectors, and using them to "seed" clouds in the troposphere. Estimates that at least 10 times more sulfate aerosol would be needed in the troposphere as in the stratosphere for a comparable climatic effect. A better understanding of the role of existing aerosols is a prerequisite for further progress in the use of aerosols for climate engineering.


Item #d96aug11

"Geoengineering: Could—Or Should—We Do It?" S.H. Schneider (Dept. Biol. Sci., Stanford Univ., Stanford CA 94305), 291-302.

Schemes to modify large-scale environmental systems or to control climate for a variety of purposes have been seriously proposed for over 50 years, and are reviewed here from a historical perspective. Now schemes to modify climate are being proposed as alternatives to conventional greenhouse warming mitigation techniques. Proponents argue cost effectiveness, while opponents cite the uncertainty of outcome, and question whether the many decades of international political stability and cooperation needed to maintain such schemes would exist. There is also a potential for transboundary conflicts should negative impacts occur, since the victims could not be assured that the schemes were unrelated to their damages. Nevertheless, given the potential for large inadvertent climatic changes now being built into the Earth system, more systematic study of the potential for geoengineering is probably needed.


Item #d96aug12

"The Economic Diplomacy of Geoengineering," T.C. Schelling (Sch. Public Affairs, Univ. Maryland, College Pk. MD 20742), 303-307.

Geoengineering schemes might immensely simplify greenhouse policy, transforming it from an exceedingly complicated regulatory regime into a problem of international cost sharing, a problem that we are familiar with. Geoengineering projects can probably be accomplished by "exo-national" programs, not depending on the behavior of populations, not requiring national regulations or incentives, and not depending on universal participation. It will involve merely deciding what to do, how much to do, and who is to pay for it.


Item #d96aug13

"May We Engineer the Climate?" D. Bodansky (Sch. of Law, Univ. Washington, 1100 NE Campus Parkway, Seattle WA 98105), 309-321.

Discusses the legal issues of climate engineering, which are as uncertain as the scientific issues. The international community would likely demand a say should climate engineering move from the realm of speculation to concrete proposals. The experience of other environmental regimes, however, suggests that developing an international decision-making mechanism would be difficult, and that the international community might opt for a simple prohibition of climate engineering on the grounds of "precaution."


Item #d96aug14

"Ethics and Intentional Climate Change [ICC]," D. Jamieson (Univ. Colorado, Boulder CO 80309), 323-336.

Assesses the ethical acceptability of ICC, based on the author's impressions of the current discussion of the topic. As a way of stimulating further discussion of ethical concerns, he proposes a set of conditions that must be satisfied for an ICC project to be morally permissible, and concludes that these conditions are now not satisfied. However, research on ICC should go on as long as certain other conditions are met.

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