Royal Society draws fire with geoengineering plans

Posted by Emma Woollacott

London, UK - The UK's leading scientific body  is courting controversy with a major report, due out on Tuesday, that is expected to recommend geoengineering as a way of combating climate change.

The Royal Society report is expected to conclude that ideas such as fake trees, sulphate injections in the stratosphere and cloud-whitening to reflect sunlight away from the earth should be further pursued. It will call on governments to support further research and perhaps even real-world experimentation.

But technology watchdog ETC Group described such plans as 'planet-tinkering' and warned that they were potentially very dangerous.

"For the climate to take notice, any geoengineering scheme would have to be massive – sulphate particles or whitened clouds would have to deflect a lot of sunlight and ocean fertilization would have to cover great swathes of sea," said ETC researcher Diana Bronson. "Even the most careful computer models won’t be able to predict what will happen if an experiment is scaled up and moved out of doors.” 

She said that such plans also distracted politicians from the real issues. “If governments believe there is a techno-fix to the climate change conundrum that will let them off the hook at the climate change treaty negotiations in Copenhagen, they will throw precious time and dollars at sci-fi fantasies, overlook potentially devastating side effects and divert their attention from the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions at source,” she said.