World needs climate emergency backup plan, says expert

Nov 07, 2008

In submitted testimony to the British Parliament, climate scientist Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution said that while steep cuts in carbon emissions are essential to stabilizing global climate, there also needs to be a backup plan. Geoengineering solutions such as injecting dust into the atmosphere are risky, but may become necessary if emissions cuts are insufficient to stave off catastrophic warming. He urged that research into the pros and cons of geoengineering be made a high priority.

"We need a climate engineering research and development plan, in addition to strong measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions" testified Caldeira, a faculty member of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology in Stanford, California, at an inquiry on geoengineering convened by the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee of the House of Commons on November 10. "Prudence demands that we consider what we might do in the face of unacceptable climate damage, which could occur despite our best efforts to rein in greenhouse gas emissions," he said.

Climate engineering (or geoengineering) refers to controversial proposals to deliberately modify the Earth's environment on a large scale, primarily to counteract greenhouse warming. One scheme would cool the planet by injecting dust into the upper atmosphere to scatter incoming sunlight. Other possibilities include enhancing cloud cover over the oceans. Critics question the effectiveness of these schemes and worry that tampering with the Earth's systems would create as many problems as they solve. But others warn that currently accelerating carbon emissions may push the planet's climate system to a tipping point, making drastic measures necessary to prevent an environmental calamity.

"Science is needed to address critical questions, among them: How effective would various climate engineering proposals be at achieving their climate goals? What unintended outcomes might result? How might these unintended outcomes affect both human and natural systems?" said Caldeira. "Engineering is needed both to build deployable systems and to keep the science focused on what's technically feasible."

Caldeira advocates a university-based research effort involving scientists and engineers representing a range of disciplines. "A climate engineering research plan should be built around important questions rather than preconceived answers," he advised the committee. "It should anticipate and embrace innovation and recognize that a portfolio of divergent but defensible paths is most likely to reveal a successful path forward; we should be wary of assuming that we've already thought of the most promising approaches or the most important unintended consequences."

"Only fools find joy in the prospect of climate engineering. It's also foolish to think that risk of significant climate damage can be denied or wished away," he said. "Perhaps we can depend on the transcendent human capacity for self-sacrifice when faced with unprecedented, shared, long-term risk, and therefore can depend on future reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. But just in case, we'd better have a plan."

Full submitted statement (go to page 99) is available at:
www.publications.parliament.uk… mo/1264/contents.htm

Transcript of oral testimony will be available at:
www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmdius.htm

Source: Carnegie Institution

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Modernmystic
2.7 / 5 (13) Nov 07, 2008
FTA:

"Perhaps we can depend on the transcendent human capacity for self-sacrifice when faced with unprecedented, shared, long-term risk, and therefore can depend on future reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. But just in case, we'd better have a plan."


Uh yep you better if you really believe what you're shoveling...cause a growing number of the rest of us don't.
Bob_Kob
3.5 / 5 (12) Nov 08, 2008
Oh god... so we don't understand fully global warming but we are prepared to do do drastic measures to stop it at all cost. Carbon sequestration, launching dust into the air and mirrors into orbit. Dumb dumb dumb...
Velanarris
3.5 / 5 (10) Nov 08, 2008
Oh god... so we don't understand fully global warming but we are prepared to do do drastic measures to stop it at all cost. Carbon sequestration, launching dust into the air and mirrors into orbit. Dumb dumb dumb...


This will be the end of all life on the planet. Hell we've made movies about it. We assume it killed the dinosaurs. Why the hell would we want to cool the earth artificially when the temp is NOWHERE near dangerous.
Noein
2.6 / 5 (9) Nov 08, 2008
Oh god... so we don't understand fully global warming but we are prepared to do do drastic measures to stop it at all cost. Carbon sequestration, launching dust into the air and mirrors into orbit. Dumb dumb dumb...


You are absolutely correct, fellow brother of the Church of Global Warming Denialism. We humans are just dumb as dirt. We know nothing. We understand nothing. Absolutely nothing. Total complete ignorance of everything. This is why we must place our faith in our lord and savior, big oil, to think for us. Big oil tells us that humans contribute nothing to global warming. Therefore, humans contribute nothing to global warming. It is so much easier simply to put my religious faith into big oil than to learn all that hard sciency stuff.
Mayday
3.9 / 5 (9) Nov 08, 2008
Can someone explain what the goal is? Are we trying to stabilize the climate and "geoengineer"-out all climate variations? On a global scale? And what global climate period are we aiming for? 1962? 1982? 2001? 1600?
And how is this mythical ideal non-variable global climate stasis chosen? By who? Based on what?

Against the natural variations how will we determine what is working? Do we suppose the effects are temporally local and can be turned off and on? How did we reach that conclusion?

Let's start with the first question: what is the actual climate goal of the Global Warming movement? Please, I'm not(at the moment) interested in the economic, political or social motivations -- just what are we supposed to achieve in regard to global climate once we remove man's supposed warming input?

And please be as specific as possible.
Modernmystic
3.7 / 5 (9) Nov 08, 2008
Can someone explain what the goal is? Are we trying to stabilize the climate and "geoengineer"-out all climate variations? On a global scale? And what global climate period are we aiming for? 1962? 1982? 2001? 1600?
And how is this mythical ideal non-variable global climate stasis chosen? By who? Based on what?

Against the natural variations how will we determine what is working? Do we suppose the effects are temporally local and can be turned off and on? How did we reach that conclusion?

Let's start with the first question: what is the actual climate goal of the Global Warming movement? Please, I'm not(at the moment) interested in the economic, political or social motivations -- just what are we supposed to achieve in regard to global climate once we remove man's supposed warming input?

And please be as specific as possible.


First off let me say that was a very good post and a good question.

Now playing the devil's advocate...my guess is they're going to say "pre-industrial temperature levels". The problem is that we're not really sure what those were. We have a ball park guesstimate, but that's it. Moreover, if we're going to have a "natural" system then we're going to have to allow for variations up to 6 degrees C higher than today, as this was seen without "AGW" in the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum.

How do you manage that? How do you know when it's time for an event like that? Do you let it happen when some panel decides it "needs" to and displace billions of people?

What about ice ages? We're due for one of those, are we going to put up enough dust in the air to get one of those and cover Europe and half of North America in ice sheets? If not, why not? If so, how do you justify the impact that's going to have on billions of people?

You think people are pissed off about lending company practices...wait until you start messing about with their lives on this kind of scale...

When these questions are faced I think the political and economic problems with such ideas become painfully clear.
Mayday
3.3 / 5 (6) Nov 08, 2008
When I read the headline I thought the piece was going to address measures to be taken to aid human survival if temperatures do rise 3 or 6 degrees over the next 10 or 15 decades. This seems to be a better approach and a better use of resources.

As one example, shouldn't we prepare a plan(at least start the discussion) to peacefully deal with mass human migrations later this century? As I hope we aren't just planning on letting people die. Even though that is what is currently done, for the most part. But what the GW movement claims is that soon man's input(apparently now proven) will cause considerable distruction. And if I read their argument correctly, it is apparently predictable, unlike the current and apparently natural and somewhat random storms and droughts(currently called acts of God). At some point a global moral decision will have to be made regarding saving lives or turning our backs.

Choosing to save these people's lives will be the greatest and most massive undertaking in human history. And frankly, I find it hard to consider the alternative.

And based on GW ideas, when does human suffering go from naturally imposed acts of God over to artificially imposed acts of Man? And shouldn't the world prepare to deal with these people?

Aren't these more proper Plan B subjects of discussion?
GrayMouser
3.9 / 5 (7) Nov 08, 2008
Can someone explain what the goal is? Are we trying to stabilize the climate and "geoengineer"-out all climate variations? On a global scale? And what global climate period are we aiming for? 1962? 1982? 2001? 1600?
And how is this mythical ideal non-variable global climate stasis chosen? By who? Based on what?

Against the natural variations how will we determine what is working? Do we suppose the effects are temporally local and can be turned off and on? How did we reach that conclusion?

Let's start with the first question: what is the actual climate goal of the Global Warming movement? Please, I'm not(at the moment) interested in the economic, political or social motivations -- just what are we supposed to achieve in regard to global climate once we remove man's supposed warming input?

And please be as specific as possible.


Yes! I want to know what level of CO2 reduction will lead to what level of temperature reduction... And the error levels.
Mayday
4.6 / 5 (5) Nov 08, 2008
Yes, and these past natural variations have "given" us the natural world we have today. To a great degree, natural climate change has spurred evolution, mixed cultures, created the modern bio-diversity and sculpted the landscape. It seems highly UNnatural to propose that we now turn it off.

But I guess that's what we're about to do -- as both Plan A and Plan B. Go figure.
Duude
4.1 / 5 (8) Nov 08, 2008
I have the answer everyone is looking for. What we need to do is stop driving, and shut down all industry throughout the U.S., Europe and Japan. Then if we need anything, we'll just order it from China and India. Oh wait a minute that's already what we're doing to an increasing degree. Well, they are far more emission conscious of how they manufacture than we are anyway.
Velanarris
3.9 / 5 (8) Nov 08, 2008
Oh god... so we don't understand fully global warming but we are prepared to do do drastic measures to stop it at all cost. Carbon sequestration, launching dust into the air and mirrors into orbit. Dumb dumb dumb...


You are absolutely correct, fellow brother of the Church of Global Warming Denialism. We humans are just dumb as dirt. We know nothing. We understand nothing. Absolutely nothing. Total complete ignorance of everything. This is why we must place our faith in our lord and savior, big oil, to think for us. Big oil tells us that humans contribute nothing to global warming. Therefore, humans contribute nothing to global warming. It is so much easier simply to put my religious faith into big oil than to learn all that hard sciency stuff.


It's funny, the bible has been more accurate in it's prophecy than the Chuch of AGW has been.

What are the exact goals of the Anti AGW movement?
MikeB
5 / 5 (6) Nov 08, 2008
The goal is love and peace. Don't you guys see? When we forsake the nasty coal, oil, gas, nuclear and all that other bad, UNNATURAL energy, we can be closer to Earth. Mother Earth will hold us to her bosom and the entire population of Earth will live in blissful peace. Ma and I will be out there on the plains with our windmill just planting our gardens and being nourished by sweet Gaia. Those nasty corporations have separated us from the closeness we once had with nature. That is the goal.
RAF4
1.8 / 5 (5) Nov 09, 2008
The vehical of the future will be the bicycle if we want to perserve our planet. Other forms of transportation, buses, rail, even horse and buggy must be taken into consideration as replace our gas guzzling SUV's and cars. To help the cause even more the push for more nuclear power. RAF
Velanarris
3 / 5 (8) Nov 09, 2008
The vehical of the future will be the bicycle if we want to perserve our planet. Other forms of transportation, buses, rail, even horse and buggy must be taken into consideration as replace our gas guzzling SUV's and cars. To help the cause even more the push for more nuclear power. RAF
Like I've said before, nuclear is not sustainable. we have about 70 years worth of accessible, enrichable uranium at this point in time. Nuclear is a stop gap at best. Push for fusion research.
MikeB
4.8 / 5 (6) Nov 09, 2008
Oh no, Mr. RAF,
Surely nuclear energy must be taken off the table. Mr. Gore has stated unequivocally that nuclear is not the clean energy that our Mother Gaia prefers.

``I have disagreed with those who would classify nuclear energy as clean or renewable,'' Gore said in a letter to Harvey Wasserman of the Ohio-based Nuclear Information and Resources Center.

So if we want renewable, sustainable energy, nuclear is not it. The problem dear people is that everyone wants to use so much energy. Throw away your microwaves, your toasters, your washing machines, your dishwashers, your ranges refrigerators and freezers. Those big screen TVs are certainly not helping our dear Mother Earth.
Can't you see? We are entering a new era! Get ready for a simpler life. I can hardly wait!
RAF4
1 / 5 (5) Nov 09, 2008
Mike B: what most politicians want is the push to pump more oil as it lines their pockets. Off shore drilling would greatly hurt our earth an environment. Ocean drilling would pollute the earth even further. Oxygen comes not only from trees but plankton and underwater plant life. Do we want to ruin that by off shore drilling?
MikeB
4.8 / 5 (4) Nov 09, 2008
No Mr RAF you are correct. For warmth we must all huddle in the bosom of our sweet Mother Earth. It will be so exciting entering this new era. It is almost like we have a time machine! I don't know about you but I have been watching a bunch of those Survivor Man shows. It will be like we are camping all the time. Remember to dig the hole deep before depositing waste, wouldn't want to pollute!!!
bmcghie
5 / 5 (3) Nov 09, 2008
The vehical of the future will be the bicycle if we want to perserve our planet. Other forms of transportation, buses, rail, even horse and buggy must be taken into consideration as replace our gas guzzling SUV's and cars. To help the cause even more the push for more nuclear power. RAF
Like I've said before, nuclear is not sustainable. we have about 70 years worth of accessible, enrichable uranium at this point in time. Nuclear is a stop gap at best. Push for fusion research.


Last I checked, fusion is still a form of nuclear energy, be it hot or the ever-desirable and as-yet-unattainable cold.
MikeB
4.8 / 5 (5) Nov 09, 2008
Mr RAF,
You are right, the offshore drilling is ruining the Gulf of Mexico. They are drilling and drilling an awful lot out there. It is so bad that no one goes to the beach anymore. And the cruise ships won't sail the Gulf of Mexico anymore either. There are no shrimp or fish there. The value of property on the bays has dropped to only a couple million a half acre. Why it is SO bad that if you drop a match in it, it keeps burning. Those little plankton guys must be suffering mightily, and when they push that drill down into Mother Earth... I don't even want to think about it. You are correct we need to stop the insanity. Poor Mother Earth, we must rebuild our lives in a simpler way. We will live in huts. No electricity, surely no cars. If we must go somewhere we will just have to leave earlier. I think two MPH is a pretty good walking speed. And if you can't walk to the hospital fast enough, well we must make SOME sacrifices. I will really love the new world being planned for us!
Soylent
2.6 / 5 (5) Nov 10, 2008
It seems highly UNnatural to propose that we now turn it off.


Naturalistic fallacy.

Whether or not it is natural for us to dig up and release wast quantities of sequestered carbon is irrelevant. Whether it is natural for us to impose on ourselves a danger of getting rid of the glaciers that supply much of the worlds fresh water for crop irrigation and drinking is besides the point.

The big question is how the cost of adapting to climate change compares to the cost of avoiding climate change.
RAF4
1 / 5 (5) Nov 10, 2008
Mr Mike B: Your last comment does put a lot of things into prospective as far as where we are with our modern society. Most Americans drive to work everyday or take the bus or train to a major work place destination (city). however I find it irrational to commute to work over 40 minutes each day to this work destination by car or train or bus if there is affordable house closer to the main cities of industry. I'm for Classic Economics which is the utilization of our American farms and natural resources. I think we had enough of the defense sector of the market being our focus and definetly G.Busch Jr who in my opinion should have been a one term president. RAF
Velanarris
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 10, 2008
Like I've said before, nuclear is not sustainable. we have about 70 years worth of accessible, enrichable uranium at this point in time. Nuclear is a stop gap at best. Push for fusion research.


Last I checked, fusion is still a form of nuclear energy, be it hot or the ever-desirable and as-yet-unattainable cold.


Yes you're correct, they are both Nuclear energy.

However, when Nuclear is used, typically it's in reference to fission. Plutonium and Uranium wouldn't be used for fusion, at least not as primary fuel.
GrayMouser
5 / 5 (2) Nov 10, 2008
The vehical of the future will be the bicycle if we want to perserve our planet. Other forms of transportation, buses, rail, even horse and buggy must be taken into consideration as replace our gas guzzling SUV's and cars. To help the cause even more the push for more nuclear power. RAF
Like I've said before, nuclear is not sustainable. we have about 70 years worth of accessible, enrichable uranium at this point in time. Nuclear is a stop gap at best. Push for fusion research.


You would not define breeder reactors as renewable resources?
Modernmystic
4 / 5 (4) Nov 10, 2008
There's also a lot of thorium in sea water.
RAF4
2 / 5 (5) Nov 10, 2008
Mike B: I see your point that tomorrow we aren't going to become a nation of tree huggers, and living up in trees isn't something I plan to do in order to save them. I'm just talking about a balance. The balance would be electric cars and hybrids for our future. Solar power.
We need to let technology advance without the disruption of the environment and nature. That is the key to sustaining the over populated earth and maintaining our relationship with planet earth.
MikeB
5 / 5 (5) Nov 11, 2008
Mr. RAF,
Where do you live? I live in the United States of America. We DO have a balance. Life is good. Get out of your apartment and see the wonderful nature all around you. Thankfully we here in the USA have the money to enjoy nature. In the bad old days nature could kill you rather quickly. Now we live in the best of all possible worlds. The good old days weren't really that great. Don't forget that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Hybrids, electric vehicles, and affordable renewable energy will come when they will. Don't let the bas#$%ds push you and me into the 17th century. You won't like it there.
Modernmystic
4.3 / 5 (6) Nov 12, 2008
Don't let the bas#$%ds push you and me into the 17th century. You won't like it there.


Just the 17th? I'm pretty sure some of them are aiming for the neolithic ;)
Velanarris
4.3 / 5 (6) Nov 12, 2008
Don't let the bas#$%ds push you and me into the 17th century. You won't like it there.


Just the 17th? I'm pretty sure some of them are aiming for the neolithic ;)
One can only hope.

I would encourage as many people as possible to give up their technology. It will make it that much easier to assume control when you're all eating granola, wearing loin cloths, and marveling at the moon's fullness.
GrayMouser
5 / 5 (3) Nov 12, 2008
Mike B: I see your point that tomorrow we aren't going to become a nation of tree huggers, and living up in trees isn't something I plan to do in order to save them. I'm just talking about a balance. The balance would be electric cars and hybrids for our future. Solar power.
We need to let technology advance without the disruption of the environment and nature. That is the key to sustaining the over populated earth and maintaining our relationship with planet earth.


1) If the Earth is over populated there is, by definition, no sustainability. To reach 'sustainability' a majority of the population has to die. While this may drop property values (a plus) I'm won't volunteer to be either the ax man or the ax man's customer.

2) Electric vehicles are less efficient, in use of resources, than petrochemical. You have to convert, convey, and store that energy before you use it. Its an ugly fact but we have to live with it.

3) The whole 'balance with nature' bit reeks of Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach. A dismal view of the future.
mikiwud
5 / 5 (3) Nov 13, 2008
We may soon be back at 18th century climate.
We will need modern energy (from whatever source) to survive. An energy back-up plan would be nice, especialy in the cock-up country called Great? Britain. NuLabour's climate plan (reduce CO2 by 80%!!!!!) should see a fair number of us off each winter. THIS is the legacy we will leave for future generations, not an AGWed world.