125 international and national organizations, representing at least 40 countries from all continents, sent an open letter to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), demanding a clear statement of its commitment to precaution and to the existing international moratorium on geoengineering. The IPCC will hold an expert meeting on geoengineering 20-22 June in Lima, Peru.
Geoengineering is the deliberate manipulation of Earth systems to alter the climate, including high-risk technologies such as blasting particles into the stratosphere to mimic volcanic eruptions (to block sunlight) and “fertilizing” oceans to grow plankton blooms for carbon sequestration. Formerly in the realm of science fiction, geoengineering has been gaining ground as a possible – even necessary, some argue – response to the climate crisis.
Climate manipulation has been on the radar of powerful Northern governments for decades. Originally conceived as a military strategy, climate manipulation has been rebranded as geoengineering: a weapon in the war on climate change.
The U.S. and UK governments appear especially open to the prospect of geoengineering, which is no surprise, according to Silvia Ribeiro of the ETC Group: “It’s a convenient way for Northern governments to dodge their commitments to emissions reduction.” Ribeiro continues, “But the climate is a complex system; manipulating climate in one place could have grave environmental, social and economic impacts on countries and peoples that had no say on the issue. Scientists estimate that blasting particles into the stratosphere could alter monsoon and wind patterns and put at risk the food and water sources for 2 billion people."