Risky climate-fixing methods needed unless CO2 emissions are greatly reduced
Sydney: Scientists have warned that potentially dangerous and unproven geoengineering technologies might be needed to fix the climate in the near future, unless emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) can be greatly reduced.
According to a report by ABC News, the stark warning, made by scientists in a report by the Royal Society, UK, determined that geoengineering is no quick fix, but may be needed to head off planetary catastrophe and deserves more research.
Royal Society president Professor Martin Rees said that growing interest in geoengineering was partly motivated by a "false hope of a quick fix".
"But if such reductions achieve too little too late there will be surely pressure to contemplate a plan B," he said.
Britain's chief scientific adviser Professor John Beddington supports the report's recommendations, which call for more research into geoengineering.
The report divides geoengineering technologies into two groups; those that remove the greenhouse gas CO2 from the atmosphere, and those which reflect sunlight back into space.
It says such technologies are currently limited to the laboratory and calls for a 10-year, 100 million pound research program - a 10-fold increase.
The report supports steps to remove CO2 from the air above others, because they addressed the underlying problem of too many heat-trapping gases, and so were more predictable and would fight not only climate change but also acidifying oceans.
In the event of an emergency where the earth suddenly pitched into a different, hotter climate, the world may need to reflect back some sunlight, according to the report.
One method may be shooting highly reflective aerosols into the atmosphere.
But the report warns that it could introduce a new influence on the earth''s climate that is less predictable.
"You could actually seriously and adversely impact one of the most critical weather patterns on the planet," said lead author Professor John Shepherd.
In response to the report Professor John Buckeridge of RMIT University in Melbourne said that the focus should be on changing human behaviour, not geoengineering.
"Geoengineering has the potential to reap even greater havoc," he said.
According to Diana Bronson, spokesperson for Environmental watchdog ETC Group, "Governments will throw precious time and dollars at sci-fi fantasies, overlook potentially devastating side effects and divert their attention from the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions at source."
"What must be immediately implemented are systems to reduce the rampant consumption of natural resources, and the resultant pollution that our ever-growing population is responsible for," said Buckeridge.