California’s Conference on Climate Change Research discusses ocean carbon sequestration

September 11th, 2008, by kevin

California’s annual conference on Climate Change Research happened earlier this week.  There are many new policies and strategies to implement climate change mitigation. Ocean Sequestration was present by Dr. Greg Rau of UC Santa Cruz, who clearly stated the need for research in this field because of the huge carbon storage potential of the ocean.

Link to Greg Rau’s presentation on ocean carbon sequestration

Link to all presentations during conference

Economist: ocean iron fertilization should be first step in geoengineering research

September 6th, 2008, by kevin

In one of the most comprehensive articles yet on geoengineering, the Economist balances the need, and the drawbacks of research into geoegineering.

Brian Launder of the University of Manchester, who edited the Royal Society papers, argues that the sort of geo-engineering schemes they describe might buy the world 20 to 30 years to adjust. That breathing space would be useful if something really bad, such as the collapse into the sea of part of the Greenland ice-shelf, was in imminent danger of happening, and the realisation of the danger led to a political agreement that climate change had to be stopped rapidly.

So what now? The answer is probably to carry out preliminary trials [of ocean iron fertilization] proposed by Dr Smetacek and Dr Naqvi. Correctly done, they should help to indicate what could work, what would not, and what the financial and environmental costs might be.

Link to article

Economist: Geoengineering research needed even if we never use it

September 6th, 2008, by kevin

The Economist discusses the pros and cons of geogineering, and suggests that research is necessary just in case,

The solution to climate change will probably involve an array of technologies, from renewables, nuclear, carbon sequestration, public transport to energy conservation. It is too early to say whether geo-engineering or anything else will be part of this mix. Geo-engineering may turn out to be too risky, however much is spent on researching it. Then again, there may come a time when it is needed. The world needs to be ready—and research is the only way to prepare. 

Link to article

Geoengineering may be insurance against “Arctic Amplifier” and other runaway feedbacks

September 6th, 2008, by kevin

The Guardian has this piece on the role of geoengineering to prevent potential runaway feedbacks in the Earth’s climate system. The article talks about the vital need for reducing GHG emissions worldwide, and then writes,

But even if we do all the above [emissions reductions], can we be sure of preventing climate catastrophe? No. The Earth’s climate system is characterised by feedback loops which can amplify even a small initial perturbation. And it seems that following an initial post-industrial warming of 0.8C, one major positive feedback process is already well under way, in the Arctic.

Geo-engineering should be developed strictly as a firefighting capability to maintain long-term climatic stability, not as a substitute for all the other actions we should be taking.

Link to article

Geoengineering research necessary due to political inaction on emission reductions

September 3rd, 2008, by kevin

The Guardian  summarizes the motivation for geoengineering research:

Political inaction on global warming has become so dire that nations must now consider extreme technical solutions - such as blocking out the sun - to address catastrophic temperature rises, scientists from around the world warn today.

The experts say a reluctance “at virtually all levels” to address soaring greenhouse gas emissions means carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are on track to pass 650 parts-per-million (ppm), which could bring an average global temperature rise of 4C. They call for more research on geo-engineering options to cool the Earth, such as dumping massive quantities of iron into oceans to boost plankton growth, and seeding artificial clouds over oceans to reflect sunlight back into space.

Link to article

Geoengineering research having difficulty finding funding

September 3rd, 2008, by kevin

Business Green discusses the challenge of funding geoengineering research projects, particularly from the commercial angle. This article refers to the Royal Society collection of geonengineering papers discussed below:

Writing in the preface to the collection of papers, Brian Launder of the University of Manchester and Michael Thompson of the University of Cambridge argued that, “While such geo-scale interventions may be risky, the time may well come when they are accepted as less risky than doing nothing.”

However, several of the scientists who contributed work for the Royal Society series have today admitted that with no commercial model currently in place to monetise geo-engineering projects, they are struggling to raise the funding required to move beyond the planning stages.

Link to article

Royal Society focuses on Geoengineering

September 3rd, 2008, by kevin

The latest issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society is focused on geoengineering.

It is now recognised that the developed world is struggling to meet its carbon-reduction targets, while emissions by China and India have soared. Meanwhile, signs suggest that the climate is even more sensitive to atmospheric CO2 levels than was previously thought.

Frustrated by the delays of politicians, scientists (including some at the highest levels) have for a number of years been proposing major ‘last minute’ schemes that might be needed if it were suddenly shown that the climate was in a state of imminent collapse. These geo–scale interventions are undoubtedly risky: but the time may come when they are universally perceived to be less risky than doing nothing.

For these reasons, it seems a good time to draw together a collection of these macro–engineering options, and to subject them to critical appraisal by acknowledged experts in the field. Emphasis is given to strategies for carbon sequestration, and albedo management to reduce the net amount of solar energy impacting and being retained by the Earth.

Link to index of papers.

There are two papers on Ocean Iron Fertilization:

Earth2Tech on the Royal Society geoengineering papers

September 1st, 2008, by dan

Katie Fehrenbacher covers the Royal Society papers at Earth2tech:

Just what you wanted to hear on a holiday: thanks to a lack of political action, the controversial practice of geoengineering, or intentionally modifying the global environment, may be the only way to combat climate change in a necessary time frame, according to a group of scientists. Researchers Brian Launder of the University of Manchester and Michael Thompson of the University of Cambridge have published a series of papers in the U.K.’s Royal Society that call for a serious look at a variety of extreme measures to stabilize global warming, like seeding the oceans with iron, injecting sulphur into the upper atmosphere, and creating fake clouds over the sea.

Swedes criticize the CBD

August 13th, 2008, by dan

In Nature today, 10 Swedish scientists have criticized the lack of scientific process and the over politicized nature of the CBD, the same group which pushed for restrictions on OIF earlier this year.

Biodiversity body ‘lacks science’

Swedish researchers criticize credentials of convention.

Daniel Cressey

Swedish researchers have launched a scathing attack on the scientific credentials of an international advisory body on biodiversity, warning that its effectiveness is being undermined by the increasing dominance of politicians and professional negotiators.

Their concerns about the work of the scientific body that advises the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) are widely shared, the convention’s own executive secretary, Ahmed Djoghlaf, has told Nature. The convention has been signed by 168 countries who pledge to significantly reduce the current rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. Article 25 of the convention states that government representatives shall be “competent in the relevant field of expertise”, but according to the Swedes, this is often not the case.

In a letter published in Conservation Biology, the ten scientists in the Swedish delegation to the CBD say that some parties to the convention are clearly trying to move away from science so that the convention does not interfere with trade and economic growth (L. Laikre et al. Conserv. Biol. 22, 814–815; 2008).

Per Wramner of Södertörn University College in Flemingsberg, who is one of the letter’s authors, says that the February CBD meeting in Rome pushed them to act after it became bogged down in political wrangling and semantics. “This last meeting was a disaster from the scientific perspective,” says Wramner, who chairs the Swedish government’s CBD advisory group.

“Mexico and the European Union also expressed concern that there are too many new issues of procedure and of a policy nature,” says Djoghlaf.

Conservation scientist Michael Stocking of the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK, says that the nomination system is “the core of the problem, in that these tend to be government nominees … not scientists who are up to date with the literature”. Countries that fund the CBD will have to insist on change for it to actually happen, says Stocking, who is vice-chair of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel for the Global Environment Facility, which administers the funding for the CBD.

The concerns come amid attempts led by France to create a new international science policy group on biodiversity. Modelled on the same independent framework as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, this new body could mitigate some of the recently raised concerns. A ‘concept note’ for the new group was circulated last month by France.

UK Guardian: Bob Watson warns of 4C temp rise

August 11th, 2008, by dan

The UK should take active steps to prepare for dangerous climate change of perhaps 4C according to one of the government’s chief scientific advisers.

In policy areas such as flood protection, agriculture and coastal erosion Professor Bob Watson said the country should plan for the effects of a 4C global average rise on pre-industrial levels. The EU is committed to limiting emissions globally so that temperatures do not rise more than 2C.

“There is no doubt that we should aim to limit changes in the global mean surface temperature to 2C above pre-industrial,” Watson, the chief scientific adviser to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, told the Guardian. “But given this is an ambitious target, and we don’t know in detail how to limit greenhouse gas emissions to realise a 2 degree target, we should be prepared to adapt to 4C.”