Steve Rayner speaks to Parliament about the implications of geoengineering

16 June 2009

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Professor Steve Rayner, Director of the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, will be speaking at a House of Commons seminar on geoengineering on 15 July. The seminar, organised by the Institute of Physics, the Royal Society of Chemistry and The Royal Academy of Engineering, will address the implications of attempting to mitigate the effects of climate change by deliberately manipulating the Earth's climate.

Proposals for geoengineered solutions have sparked controversy, as society comes to terms with what it means to engineer our own environment, and policymakers come to terms with the technical and social implications of this emerging field. Nevertheless, with growing doubt as to the ability, or willingness, of world economies to meet the stringent cuts in emissions required, geoengineering could become much more politically attractive.

This seminar will discuss a number of imaginative technologies that have been suggested to modify the extent to which the Earth diffusely reflects light from the Sun or sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide, which could be sufficient to offset, in part, the effect of greenhouse gas emissions. It will also explore whether these techniques will have any unintended consequences, how they need to be developed and analysed for risk potential, and whether altering the Earth's climate system will ever be socially acceptable. The scale of the interventions required will also be of concern as well as the full life-cycle costs of proposals.

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