Light of Day
Scientists release report from hush-hush Asilomar geoengineering conference.
Monday, November 15, 2010
When the Asilomar Conference on Climate Engineering Technologies came to Pacific Grove last March, information coming out of the event was closely guarded under the "Chatham House Rule": Media were forbidden from filing news stories, blogging or otherwise broadcasting information during the meeting.Nine months later, organizers have apparently gestated their conclusions and are finally making them public.
The brainstorming session included more than 165 experts from 15 countries, across a spectrum of (mostly technical) disciplines.
"Participants reaffirmed that the risks posed by ongoing climate change require a strong commitment to mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation to unavoidable climate change, and development of low-carbon energy sources," states a summary at climate.org, "independent of whether climate intervention methods ultimately prove to be safe and feasible."
Climate engineering (aka "geoengineering") falls into two categories: remediation, which works to reduce the causes of climate change (think of tree-planting, carbon sequestration and ocean iron fertilization); and intervention, which aims to mitigate the effects of climate change through even more fantastical means such as spewing sulfur aerosols into the atmosphere and seeding space with sun-reflecting mirrors.
1. Climate engineering research should be aimed at promoting the collective benefit of humankind and the environment;
2. Governments must clarify responsibilities for, and, when necessary, create new mechanisms for the governance and oversight of large-scale climate engineering research activities;
3. Climate-engineering research should be conducted openly and cooperatively, preferably within a framework that has broad international support;
4. Iterative, independent technical assessments of research progress will be required to inform the public and policymakers; and
5. Public participation and consultation in research planning and oversight, assessments, and development of decision-making mechanisms and processes must be provided.