April 8, 2009

Obama and Geo-engineering? Yes, you can – but don't!

ETC Group
News Release
8 April 2009

Reported musing by Obama Advisor is dangerous

OTTAWA, April 8, 2009 – Today's reports[1] from an Associated Press
interview with U.S. Chief Science Advisor John Holdren claiming that
the White House could now be taking a serious look at geo-engineering
– including the radical proposal to shoot nanoparticles of sulphate
into the earth’s atmosphere – are causing alarm around the world. “If
this is somebody's trial balloon to test Obama's acceptance of geo-
engineering, the White House should shoot it down immediately,” says
Pat Mooney, executive director of ETC Group, an Ottawa-based civil
society organization that has been monitoring geo-engineering
technologies since 2006. Geo-engineering refers to large-scale,
intentional manipulations of the planet's climate and other systems.

Holdren is quoted as saying that an experimental measure such as
shooting sulphate into the atmosphere has “got to be looked at,”
adding, “we don’t have the luxury of taking any approach off the
table.” As reported, these comments seem to signal a change from
earlier writings in which Holdren warned of “serious side effects” of

“The most disturbing aspect of geo-engineering is that unlike the
Kyoto Protocol, which requires a broad consensus to reduce greenhouse
gas emissions, geoengineering is a luxury afforded only to
superpowers, who can unilaterally decide to adjust the earth's climate
to their liking. That John Holdren is reported as countenancing
shooting sulphate nanoparticles into the atmosphere is especially

“The potential side effects of polluting the upper atmosphere with
sulphates could be devastating – ranging from ozone depletion and
increased drought to threats to health,” explains Jim Thomas of ETC
Group. “Worst of all, once governments start shooting up these
particles into the atmosphere, we may find ourselves addicted.
Stopping would prompt a massive and sudden jump in temperature. Of all
the wacky geo-engineering schemes out there, this one is probably the
most dangerous and the most unjust. It would be irresponsible to
contemplate real-world testing of this technology.”

Holdren’s statement is being received with glee by geo-engineers who
have been campaigning for more research dollars and a higher public
profile. This week a group of geo-engineers are reportedly sending a
letter to the Obama administration asking that geo-engineering be
placed on the agenda for the preparatory meeting of the Major
Economies Forum on Energy and Climate being convened April 27-28th in
Washington D.C.[3] The looming failure of the Kyoto Protocol and
uncertain outcome of the Copenhagen climate negotiations in December
have politicians stargazing, hoping to find anything that could appear
to be a winning strategy in the fight against climate change.

“The White House must confirm that Barack Obama's meeting with
representatives of the sixteen largest economies to discuss climate
change later this month is not an attempt to convene some new
'coalition of the willing' to reengineer the planet,” asserts Diana
Bronson of ETC Group. “If the United States does indeed head down the
geo-engineering path they could find themselves in breach of
international law under the UN's ENMOD Convention [Convention on the
Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental
Modification Techniques]. If the White House wants to be constructive,
it should work with the United Nations to ensure that appropriate
oversight structures are in place to prevent unilateral deployment of
geo-engineering. Meanwhile, geo-engineering schemes, including real
world field trials, should be vigourously opposed.”

The AP's interview with John Holdren comes on the heels of reports
from the UK suggesting that both the government and the Royal Society
are giving geoengineering a sympathetic hearing. Earlier this week,
ETC Group sent a submission to the Royal Society on the question of
governance and geo-engineering. ETC Group's submission is available
here: http://www.etcgroup.org/en/materials/publications.html?pub_id=736

1 comment:

Mr. H said...

Sometimes I think this is how Mother Nature intended human beings to keep their population under control. I don't really believe that,but man, you have to wonder. Is it really possible that so many people could be so foolish? Sometimes I think, as a race, we are destined to fail. Why in the world would anyone in their right mind want to mess around with these things.

Thanks for keeping us well informed,