Cancun – Geoengineering Taboo Broken
As climate talks drag on, more ponder techno-fixes
By CHARLES J. HANLEY
Sat Dec 4, 2010
CANCUN, Mexico – Like the warming atmosphere above, a once-taboo idea hangs over the slow, frustrating U.N. talks to curb climate change: the idea to tinker with the atmosphere or the planet itself, pollute the skies to ward off the sun, fill the oceans with gas-eating plankton, do whatever it takes.
As climate negotiators grew more discouraged in recent months, U.S. and British government bodies urged stepped-up studies of such “geoengineering.” The U.N. climate science network decided to assess the options. And a range of new research moved ahead in America and elsewhere.
“The taboo is broken,” Paul Crutzen, a Nobel Prize-winning atmospheric scientist, told The Associated Press.
Whatever the doubts, “we are amazingly farther up the road on geoengineering,” Crutzen, who wrote a 2006 scientific article that sparked interest in geoengineering, said by telephone from Germany.
But environmentalists are asking: Who’s in charge? Who gets to decide whether to take such drastic action, with possibly unforeseen consequences for people worldwide?
“This is really a risky, dangerous option,” said environmentalist Silvia Ribeiro, here for the two-week negotiating session of parties to the 193-nation U.N. climate treaty.