Geoengineering - taking control of our planet's climate?

Issue organised and edited by Andy Ridgwell, Chris Freeman and Richard Lampit

Concern about the likely global environmental impacts of continuing climate change has led to an explosion of interest in whether Earth’s climate could be deliberately modified to counteract greenhouse gas warming, known as ‘geoengineering’.

In November 2010, the Royal Society hosted a Discussion Meeting: Geoengineering - taking control of our planet's climate that critically assessed many of the schemes currently being considered. Papers in this volume directly reflect the outcome of this meeting, including assessments of how proposed schemes might be implemented ‘for real’ in terms of engineering challenges and cost. Papers cover both technologies that aim to create cooling by modifying how much sunlight is absorbed at the Earth’s surface, as well as those tackling the root of the problem – excess CO2 in the atmosphere. Additional global modelling papers provide new assessments of how geoengineering may (or may not) fit with conventional CO2 mitigation measures to achieve policy targets.

Overall: the recent rapid development of technologies showcased in the volume illustrate how the state-of-the-art of the ‘science’ now appears far advanced of policy and public understanding, challenging the development of international treaties and bodies to help provide governance.


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The papers in this Theme Issue were presented at a Discussion Meeting held in November 2010. Listen to the podcasts of these talks here.

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