One stop shop for geoengineering

07 August 2012

© Julia Banfield

An online geoengineering library has been launched to help improve knowledge, understanding and access to information about engineering techniques which have the potential to counteract climate change.

The Oxford Geoengineering Programme, a member of the Oxford Martin School, has created the GeoLibrary, a library of academic material, media reports, videos, blogs and interviews about geoengineering.

The publicly accessible GeoLibrary is composed of two separate resource portals; one housing links to academic reference material on geoengineering, and the other for grey resources such media reports, videos, interviews and blogs. The GeoLibrary kicks off with links to 945 resources in total. It will be kept up to date by collaboration among geoengineering researchers, media and interested parties across the globe.

Administration of the GeoLibrary will be carried out by Oxford Geoengineering Programme, which is actively seeking partnerships with other institutions and individual researchers to maintain and update this resource over the long term.

“The GeoLibrary is an important step in the direction of universal accessible information on all aspects of the topic,” said Professor Steve Rayner, Co-Director of the Oxford Geoengineering Programme. He added that the GeoLibrary will support the implementation of the Oxford Principles for Geoengineering Governance, especially Principle 3; that there should be complete disclosure of research plans and open publication of results to facilitate understanding of the risks and to reassure the public as to the integrity of the process. “In endorsing this principle, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee recommended that there should be an international database of geoengineering research to encourage and facilitate disclosure,” he said.

Geoengineering - the deliberate large-scale intervention in the Earth's natural systems to counteract climate change - involves a range of technologies that are being debated and explored with increasing frequency in both academic and non-academic circles.

The Oxford Geoengineering Programme seeks to engage with society about the issues associated with geoengineering and conduct research into some of the proposed techniques. The programme does not advocate implementing geoengineering, but it does advocate conducting research into the social, ethical and technical aspects of geoengineering. It states that such research must be conducted in a transparent and socially informed manner.

The concept of geoengineering began in academic circles in the 1960s. Media interest was generated after Nobel Prize winning scientist Paul Crutzen wrote about the topic in a prominent 2006 article. Since then a body of academic and non academic literature has grown up around the concept. The GeoLibrary is the first fully searchable online portal to cover the breadth of geoengineering literature and hopes to provide first stop for students, journalists and interested members of the public when researching geoengineering.