Monday, August 26, 2013

Gore Down, Suzuki in the Middle on Geoengineering

In a new interview with the Washington Post, former Vice President and prominent climate campaigner Al Gore offers his candid view on geoengineering.  In response to a general question on the subject, Gore declares that geoengineering is

complex because there are some benign geoengineering proposals like white roofs or efforts to figure out a way to extract CO2 from the atmosphere, though no one has figured out how to do that yet.  But the geoengineering options most often discussed, like putting sulfer dioxide into the atmosphere or orbiting tinfoil strips -- these are simply nuts.  We shouldn't waste a lot of time talking about them.  Some people will anyway, but they're just crazy.

While his characterization of research advocates as "crazy" is obviously over the top, it is refreshing to see Gore drawing distinctions between different geoengineering techniques, in particular "soft" CDR versus "hard" SRM.  Yet he clearly remains skeptical toward both branches of geoengineering technology.

Further north, Canadian environmental activist David Suzuki recently expressed similar skepticism toward climate engineering in an online column, but he leavened his comments by acknowledging that research is warranted.  "Geoengineering to combat climate change is largely untested.  Because we've stalled so long on reducing carbon emissions and still aren't doing enough, we may have to consider it," Suzuki writes.  He goes on to note that "Scientists at the Berlin Social Science Research Center suggest creating a 'new international climate engineering agency ... to coordinate countries' efforts and manage research funding.'  Because some geoengineering is likely unavoidable, that's a good idea" (see here for a summary of the referenced proposal).  Just last year, Suzuki declared his strong opposition to CCS (see David Suzuki Urges Opposition to CCS, 7/7/12), yet now he considers CCS a "carbon-reduction method" potentially worthy of research, suggesting that his attitude on the issue is evolving in a positive direction.

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