Friday, September 13, 2013

Britain's Astronomer Royal Joins Calls for More Research

Britain's official Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees, has added his voice to recent calls for more research into geoengineering (for example, see Gore Down, Suzuki in the Middle on Geoengineering, 8/26).  Lord Rees, a former president of the Royal Society and current professor of cosmology at Cambridge University, made his appeal in closing remarks delivered at the British Science Festival in Newcastle on Thursday.  Research is warranted, Rees declared, due to the risks posed by global warming: "If the effect [of heightened CO2 levels] is strong, and the world consequently seems on a rapidly warming trajectory into dangerous territory, there may be a pressure for 'panic measures' ... These would have to involve a 'Plan B' - being fatalistic about continuing dependence on fossil fuels, but combating its effects by some form of geoengineering."  But Rees was careful to underscore the serious problems that would accompany any turn to geoengineering: "Geoengineering would be an utter political nightmare: not all nations would want to adjust the thermostat the same way."  The position of Astronomer Royal, while honorary, is very prestigious, and Rees' comments will likely carry some weight among the broader public.

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