While most scientists left the Copenhagen Climate Summit feeling gloomy about their influence, a small group of geoengineering advocates came away emboldened by the summit’s weak outcome and uncertain road ahead. This group of scientists aims to get on with research and experimentation in controversial geoengineering technologies. Their real excitement is over “solar radiation management” (SRM). This is a way of “cooling down the planet’s thermostat” by reflecting a portion of the sun’s rays back to outer space, through a variety of techniques ranging from sunshades in space, to aerosol sulphates in the stratosphere, to whitening clouds. These high-risk, planet-altering schemes affect global warming without changing its cause which is excessive greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
The roll-out of geoengineering as Plan B is being skillfully executed: prominent high-level panels sponsored by prestigious groups, a spate of peer-reviewed articles this January in science journals, and a line-up of panicked politicians in northern countries, nodding nervously in agreement as scientists testify about the “need to research Plan B.”[i] “This lobbying offensive has been underway for more than a year now but it has moved into a critical new phase. The world needs to pay attention,” said Diana Bronson of ETC Group, a technology watchdog headquartered in Canada. “Geoengineers are now advocating real-world experiments with some of the most high-risk climate changing technologies and many of them have no intention of waiting for an international regulatory agreement. Governments need to tell them they have no right to geoengineer the planet. Industrialized countries, which caused the problem of global warming in the first place, cannot be trusted to unilaterally attempt a techno-fix that will be even remotely equitable in its impact.”