GAO: Major uncertainties remain regarding geoengineering



Examples of SRM Approaches


Yes from the GAO we get this “Major uncertainties remain regarding the scientific, legal, political, economic and ethical implications of researching or deploying geoengineering,” Sounds like someone’s legitimately worried that someone or some agency may go off on their own and create a problem that could be worse than alleged anthropogenic global warming or at best, there’s a gigantic lack of coördination and a gigantic waste of tax dollars. Below is their summary……

Policymakers have raised questions about geoengineering–large-scale deliberate interventions in the earth’s climate system to diminish climate change or its impacts–and its role in a broader strategy of mitigating and adapting to climate change. Most geoengineering proposals fall into two categories: carbon dioxide removal (CDR), which would remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, and solar radiation management (SRM), which would offset temperature increases by reflecting sunlight back into space. GAO was asked to examine (1) the state of geoengineering science, (2) federal involvement in geoengineering, and (3) the views of experts and federal officials about the extent to which federal laws and international agreements apply to geoengineering, and any governance challenges. GAO examined relevant scientific and policy studies, relevant domestic laws and international agreements, analyzed agency data describing relevant research for fiscal years 2009 and 2010, and interviewed federal officials and selected recognized experts in the field.

Few geoengineering experiments or modeling studies have been conducted, and major uncertainties remain on the efficacy and potential consequences of geoengineering approaches. GAO’s review of relevant studies and discussions with selected experts indicated that relatively more laboratory and field research relevant to certain CDR approaches exists, although most of this research was not designed to apply to geoengineering. In contrast, few modeling studies or field experiments have focused on SRM approaches, according to experts and recent studies. Experts identified only one SRM field experiment with published results–a 2009 Russian experiment that injected aerosols into the middle troposphere to measure their reflectivity. Experts, as well as relevant studies, identified several major uncertainties in need of further investigation for CDR and SRM. Federal agencies identified 52 research activities, totaling about $100.9 million, relevant to geoengineering during fiscal years 2009 and 2010. GAO’s analysis found that 43 activities, totaling about $99 million, focused either on mitigation strategies or basic science. Most of the research focused on mitigation efforts, such as geological sequestration of CO2, which were identified as relevant to CDR approaches but not designed to address them directly. GAO found that nine activities, totaling about $1.9 million, directly investigated SRM or less conventional CDR approaches. Officials from interagency bodies coordinating federal responses to climate change indicated that their offices have not developed a coordinated strategy, and believe that, due to limited federal investment, it is premature to coordinate geoengineering activities. However, federal officials also noted that a large share of existing federal climate science research could be relevant to geoengineering. Agencies requested roughly $2 billion for such activities in fiscal year 2010. Without a coordinated federal strategy for geoengineering, it is difficult for agencies to determine the extent of relevant research, and policymakers may lack key information to inform subsequent decisions on geoengineering and existing climate science efforts. According to legal experts and federal officials, the extent to which federal laws and international agreements apply to geoengineering is unclear. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken steps to regulate one CDR approach and has determined that it has sufficient authority to regulate two other approaches. EPA officials said EPA has not assessed the applicability of other laws because geoengineering research is in its initial stages. Similarly, legal experts and Department of State officials said that, except for three instances, parties to international agreements have not addressed their agreements’ applicability to geoengineering, largely due to limited geoengineering activity and awareness of the issue. Legal experts’ and officials’ views differed on the best approach for international governance, but generally agreed that the federal government should take a coordinated, interagency approach on domestic regulation. Experts and officials also identified governance challenges, such as the need to address liability. GAO recommends that within the Executive Office of the President, the appropriate entities, such as the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), establish a clear strategy for geoengineering research in the context of the federal response to climate change to ensure a coordinated federal approach. OSTP neither agreed nor disagreed with our recommendation, but provided technical comments.

I went to the whole thing. My first giggle came from this one one…..

A September 2009 study from the Royal Society divided most geoengineering proposals into two main categories: carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and solar radiation management (SRM). CDR addresses what scientists currently view as the root cause of climate change by removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

Is this the same “Royal Society” that can’t add and makes basic math errors? I find this rather amazing already. Next we get this one…..

Geoengineering Is an Emerging Field with Major Uncertainties, Including Potential Effects

Experts said that geoengineering is an emerging field, with relatively few experiments or other studies conducted and with major uncertainties remaining. We found that more is known about certain CDR approaches, since related laboratory and field experiments have been conducted, whereas there is limited understanding of other CDR approaches and SRM. Moreover, major uncertainties remain regarding the scientific, legal, political, economic, and ethical implications of researching or deploying geoengineering.Geoengineering Is an Emerging Field with Major Uncertainties, Including Potential Effects.

Experts and Relevant Studies Identified Major Uncertainties that Merit Further Investigation

Experts we interviewed and relevant studies identified several major uncertainties in the field of geoengineering that are in need of further investigation. These uncertainties ranged from important scientific questions for CDR and SRM, to political, ethical, and regulatory issues.

Other highlights are……

  • Unintended consequences
  • Better understanding of the climate and when a “climate emergency” is reached
  • How to best regulate geoengineering internationally
  • Political, economic and ethical concerns
  • Federal Agencies Are Sponsoring Research Relevant to Geoengineering, but There Is No Coordinated Federal Strategy, Making It Difficult to Determine the Extent of Relevant Research
  • Most Federal Research Activities Focused on Mitigation or Basic Science, but a Few Specifically Addressed Geoengineering
  • Existing Federal Efforts Are Not Part of a Coordinated Geoengineering Research Strategy, Making It Difficult to Determine the Full Extent of Relevant Research
  • The Extent to Which Existing Federal Laws and International Agreements Apply to Geoengineering Is Unclear, and Experts and Officials Identified Governance Challenges
  • EPA Officials Stated the Applicability of Existing Laws is Unclear and They Have Not Fully Assessed Their Applicability Because of Limited Geoengineering Activity
  • Experts and Federal Officials Identified International Agreements That Could Apply to Geoengineering, but Their Applicability Is Largely Uncertain
  • Experts and Federal Officials Identified Governance Challenges, but Their Views Varied on the Most Effective Governance Approach

You can read the whole report titled: CLIMATE CHANGE, A Coordinated Strategy Could Focus Federal Geoengineering Research and Inform Governance Efforts here (PDF).

Basically, it sounds like we’re not even close to a beginning regarding geoengineering, which is a good thing, especially since we don’t have any anthropogenic global warming to engineer and messing with things will create more problems than it would solve.

No doubt this will be a gigantic opening for a large number of government organizations, research institutes, universities, scientists and of course the United Nations to use this as another excuse to get more grant money for research and allow the UN to ripoff more money from the taxpayers of various countries.

Source: Fox News


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