Geoengineering the Climate: Ethics, Potential and Politics

Friday, September 24, 2010 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Columbia University, Morningside Campus, Alfred Lerner Hall, Satow Room, Fifth Floor

Columbia Climate Center,

Event Description:
Speakers: Eli Kintisch, author, reporter, Science; Scott Barrett, Lenfest-Earth Institute Professor of Natural Resource Economics, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

The Earth Institute's Columbia Climate Center as part of Climate Week NYC presents "Geoengineering the Climate: Ethics, Potential and Politics," with Eli Kintisch, author, reporter, Science and Scott Barrett, Lenfest-Earth Institute Professor of Natural Resource Economics, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University. 

Open to the public. RSVP required.

Join the Columbia Climate Center for an afternoon event to explore the next steps for geoengineering with Eli Kintisch, author of Hack the Planet: Science's Best Hope or Worst Nightmare for Averting Climate Catastrophe, and Prof. Scott Barrett, expert in international agreements who is currently studying the politics and economics of geoengineering.

Average global temperatures for the decade ending in 2009 were the highest ever measured. Meanwhile emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise. While there is recognition that reducing emissions is necessary to avoid future changes to Earth’s climate, there is concern that such efforts may be too little, too late.

In search for a Plan B, deliberate large-scale interventions in the climate system to reduce global warming, or geoengineering, have been receiving increasing attention. The UK Royal Society published a report in 2009 exploring the associated science, governance and uncertainty. In March, almost two hundred scientists and policy experts from around the world met to debate how to regulate real-world experiments to block the sun or to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. “Hacking the planet” by adding particles to the stratosphere or brightening clouds, will likely have uncertain effects and far-reaching impacts. To date, this controversial field has been primarily in the realm of discussions and modeling, but experts recently have begun drafting guidelines for interventions.

The questions that surround geoengineering are myriad. What constitutes safe or minimal experiments that don't require rules? Is a treaty needed? Should the world issue a moratorium, or outright ban, medium or large scale geoengineering experiments?  What role should the UN play, if any?

Praise for Hack the Planet

Publisher's Weekly gave a starred review to Kintisch's book on geoengineering, published by Wiley and Sons.

"Anyone who considers themselves scientifically literate had better get versed in the new discipline of geo-engineering--or planet-hacking, as Eli Kintisch calls it in this nuanced and useful new account. This discussion is not going to go away anytime soon!"
– Bill McKibben, co-founder of and author of The End of Nature.

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