by Derrick Broze
As the Carnegie Council calls for global governance to regulate climate engineering, advocates and opponents of the controversial technology prepare for a looming policy debate.
On December 8, the Carnegie Council released an essay calling for policymakers to invest resources into creating new forms of governance as a response to increasing calls for climate engineering, or geoengineering. The essay is part of a growing push for funding for research into the controversial science of modifying or engineering the climate, and a recent push towards global government which could regulate the technology. Geoengineering is the deliberate and large-scale manipulation of the weather and climate using a variety of technologies. One popular form of geoengineering promoted by scientists is known as Solar Radiation Management (SRM), which involves spraying aerosols from planes equipped with particulates designed to reflect sunlight in an effort to combat “anthropogenic global warming.”
We are potentially at the dawn of an age of geoengineering. It is time for policymakers to start discussing whether geoengineering is to go forward and, if so, how. – The Need For Governance of Climate Engineering, Carnegie Council
The essay, published in the Council’s peer-reviewed journal Ethics & International Affairs, starts out by stating that lawmakers around the world need to accept the “uncomfortable reality” that man-made climate change is causing environmental destruction. “Despite the best efforts of national governments and thousands of mayors and other civic leaders, we can no longer contain global average temperatures to below 1.5–2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels through mitigation of carbon emissions alone,” the author writes.
According to the report, the answer to this apparently unstoppable apocalypse will likely include some form of geoengineering and policymakers need to have these important discussions and debates. The author describes the resurgent interest in geoengineering and stresses the increasing likelihood that “a group of countries or cities or even one or more wealthy individuals might decide to deploy geoengineering technologies during the coming decades.”
The author does a great job of illustrating the need to find answers to difficult and complex questions. For example, the Council asks, “How would we govern such actors? Who assesses the balance of risks and rewards when deploying geoengineering technologies? What safeguards and what compensation mechanisms need to be built in? If we start deliberately altering global temperatures, who controls the global thermostat?”
The Carnegie Council previously created the Carnegie Climate Geoengineering Governance Initiative to “bring the profoundly complex issues of geoengineering governance and ethics to a much wider audience.” The new essay is part of the effort to bring these issues to the minds of policymakers and the general population. The author does not hesitate to emphasize the goal of international or supranational governance for climate engineering. Emphasis added:
In other words, the real question facing humanity might not be whether or not to go ahead with geoengineering technologies, but how to govern them when they inevitably arrive. This will require a high degree of knowledge about geoengineering technologies, and will entail a considerable amount of work to understand the risks. This is something no one group can do alone. The world as a whole needs to deal with this, involving all levels of society.
The Carnegie Council acknowledges that the effort to build a “wider geoengineering governance community” has already begun. “Many of our staff come from a United Nations and intergovernmental background, and we have already engaged with many governments, international organizations, and nongovernmental actors,” the report states. The council is also working with “numerous nonstate actors active in the climate and sustainable development space” and religious leaders. “Ultimately, we hope a large and diverse network of individuals will emerge across a range of institutions to drive the debate nationally and internationally.”
The science of geoengineering is controversial for many reasons. For one, there is the possibility of creating even more environmental damage and disaster once geoengineering programs are started, including the loss of blue skies and an increase in temperature for some parts of the world. In addition, there are those who believe in the Chemtrails Conspiracy, which states that weather modification programs are actively taking place in our skies. According to this theory, the “normal” contrails created by planes are actually covert geoengineering programs being carried out right above our heads. The “chemtrails” label comes from the portion of the crowd that believes these programs are delivering dangerous chemical additives to the food, water, soil, and humans below for nefarious purposes.
Interestingly, researchers with Carnegie Science at the University of California Irvine and the nonprofit Near Zero recently published a study which claimed to conclusively debunk the possibility of this alleged secret government geoengineering program. The study, “Quantifying expert consensus against the existence of a secret, large-scale atmospheric spraying program”, was published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. The authors of the study conducted a survey of the leading contrail and atmosphere scientists to find out if there was sufficient evidence to support claims of a secret, large-scale atmospheric spraying program (SLAP). The contrail and atmospheric experts overwhelmingly rejected evidence cited by believers of what is sometimes known as the “Chemtrails Conspiracy.”
Despite the conflicting views and opinions, earlier this month California Congressman Jerry McNerney introduced legislation calling for a hearing in the House Committee on Science, Space & Technology (SST) to collect information from experts in the field of geoengineering. McNerney also introduced H.R. 4586, the Geoengineering Research Evaluation Act, which would “provide for a federal commitment to the creation of a geoengineering research agenda and an assessment of the potential risks of geoengineering practices.”
“We’ve reached a moment of clarity in the fight against climate change where we are experiencing the repercussions of the atmospheric buildup of greenhouse gasses,” said Congressman McNerney. “Even if human beings were to cease all greenhouse gas emissions tomorrow, significant atmospheric change has already been set in motion and will continue to occur for generations to come.”
The legislation would commission the National Academies of Science (NAS) to produce two reports recommending a geoengineering research strategy and oversight principles for such research. According to the press release, “the bill also provides for the creation of an implementation plan to ensure a path forward for additional geoengineering research and development.”
Opponents of geoengineering are not sitting by in silence while the Carnegie Council and politicians advance their goals. A recent report from the ETC Group, Biofuelwatch, and Heinrich Böll Foundation warn that geoengineering is gaining acceptance “as a would-be technological fix for climate change.” The report, “The Big Bad Fix – The Case Against Climate Geoengineering,” analyzes the risks of geoengineering, and shows the different individuals and organizations working to advance the technology.
“Geoengineering is a dangerous defence of the failed status quo, not a technical or scientific necessity,” says Rachel Smolker, Co-director of Biofuelwatch. “In fact, the technologies put forward for geoengineering will most likely worsen rather than solve the multifaceted problems created by climate change. Claiming that we ‘must’ deploy geoengineering is saying that we would sooner do irreparable harm to our planet than alter our economic system that benefits only the very few at the top.”
Derrick Broze is an investigative journalist and liberty activist. He is the Lead Investigative Reporter for ActivistPost.com and the founder of the TheConsciousResistance.com. Follow him on Twitter. Derrick is the author of three books: The Conscious Resistance: Reflections on Anarchy and Spirituality and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 1 and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 2