Monday, March 19, 2012

Climate Scientists, Geoengineering Community Slam AMEG

For months now, the Arctic Methane Emergency Group (AMEG) has been warning of impending climate catastrophe linked to observations of methane venting, and calling for immediate geoengineering in the Arctic (see Arctic Methane, Emergencies, and Alarmism, 12/29/11). The rationale for this position rests on weak science and bad politics, but AMEG has pressed its case regardless, even appearing before a UK parliamentary committee in February (see Environmental Audit Committee Hearing in the UK, 2/25). Last week, AMEG made a similar presentation to the UK All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group (APPCCG). This time, however, the catastrophists appear to have taken one step too many.

A BBC story on the APPCCG meeting not only reported the exaggerations and occasional hysterics typical of AMEG pitches, but relayed the apparently unfounded assertion that "The idea of putting dust particles into the stratosphere to reflect sunlight, mimicking the cooling effect of volcanic eruptions, would in fact be disastrous for the Arctic ... with models showing it would increase temperatures at the pole by perhaps 10C." Mainstream climate scientists were quick to cast ridicule on the main arguments presented by AMEG. More importantly, prominent members of the geoengineering community took the group to task, chastising AMEG for scientific carelessness and public-relations ineptitude. This reaction was summed up best by well-known New York Times Dot Earth blogger Andy Revkin: "I'm with Stoat, Ken Caldeira, David Keith, Alan Robock and others who see this 'emergency' effort to rush cloud intervention in the Arctic on behalf of sea ice (and indirectly seabed methane) as undermining the case for a serious push on geo-engineering options, impacts and policy issues. ... 'Yelling fire on a hot planet' can have unanticipated consequences."

AMEG is unlikely to alter its stance based solely on this pushback, but that is not really the point. What is important is that leading advocates of geoengineering research have publicly disavowed the extreme views of a fringe element. If (when?) the AMEG bubble bursts, critics of geoengineering will have a much harder time painting the entire geoengineering community with a single broad brushstroke as techno-fanatics committed to rash action. Instead, responsible supporters of research can rightly claim to have opposed the alarmists as well, not having indulged in either apocalyptic visions or messianic pretensions.

No comments:

Post a Comment