Gates geoengineering plan gets environmentalists up in arms

Posted by Emma Woollacott

A report that Bill Gates plans to fund the world's largest geoengineering project to date has drawn fire from environmental groups.

According to the Times, Gates is investing in a project to suck up seawater and spray it into the sky to seed clouds which would reflect the sun's heat away from the earth.

The paper says he's to give $300,000 to a San Francisco-based research body, Silver Lining, to develop machines that can blow water particles up to 1,000 meters.

The trial will involve ten ships and 10,000 square kilometers of ocean. While a site hasn't been chosen, the Pacific coasts of North and South America have been discussed.

But environmental groups say it's irresponsible to undertake such projects in the absence of any international agreements on geoengineering.

Indeed, represeantatives of 100 such groups are in Nairobi right now, lobbying a meeting of the UN's Subsidiary Body of Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice about this very issue.

"Our home planet Earth should not be treated as a laboratory for risky geoengineering experiments," says Silvia Ribeiro of ETC Group.

"Human-caused climate change already threatens our lands, seas, food supply and rights. We do not want to embark on another dangerous experiment with our planet. If they think that the people and governments of Ecuador, Peru or Chile – or anywhere else they might try - will stand idly by as they mess with our oceans, clouds and weather, they are in for a surprise."

ETC is part of a coalition called Hands Off Mother Earth (HOME), which also includes Friends of the Earth International and Third World Network.