Policy ForumClimate Change

The Politics of Geoengineering

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Science  29 Jan 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5965, pp. 527
DOI: 10.1126/science.1183877

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Despite mounting evidence that severe climate change could emerge rapidly, the global reduction of carbon emissions remains alarmingly elusive (1, 2). As a result, concerned scientists are now asking whether geoengineering—the intentional, large-scale alteration of the climate system—might be able to limit climate change impacts. Recent prominent reviews have emphasized that such schemes are fraught with uncertainties and potential negative effects and, thus, cannot be a substitute for comprehensive mitigation (3, 4). But as unabated climate change could itself prove extremely risky, these reviews also recommend expanding geoengineering research. As such research is considered (57), a process for ensuring global transparency and cooperation is needed.