There’s an interesting article in the South African news media about a UN moratorium on the sort of geo-engineering ideas described in my recent discussion with Pete Strutton. The general gist of the moratorium is that the UN is saying “lets not do any more of this sort of research until we have a better idea whether its going to work and at what cost”; its not an ethical prohibition in the sense of the human cloning sort of ban. Consequently, the South African piece describing proposers of geo-engineering as “crackpot scientists” is absurdly harsh and sensationalist journalism at its worst. I can say with confidence that scientists studying geo-engineering concepts are simply trying to propose solutions to what will certainly be the most vexing global challenge of our generation. As stated in this Scientific American piece:
“Major scientific organizations — including the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union and the U.K. Royal Society — have issued cautious calls for more research, though warning that geoengineering approaches shouldn’t supplant efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions.”
In my ideal world, it would be a social norm that you can’t object to an idea unless you propose a justifiably better alternative. Certainly there are questions to be answered about who gets to make the call on these global-level solutions (even mentioned here back in March). But as it stands, with Kyoto and Copenhagen essentially failing to effectively retard the source of the issue (greenhouse gas emissions), we can ill-afford the UN to be hindering research into possible solutions, without offering something better.