Matthew Watson writes in the Guardian:
The release of the report by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last month threw into stark relief the clear message on anthropogenic global warming and sounded the direst of warnings against our continued inaction. For the first time, and to the alarm of some, discussion on geoengineering (or, more correctly, climate engineering) was included in the report.
A single paragraph couched climate engineering in cautious terms, in bland language, and stated that deliberate intervention at large scale would be an imperfect solution with potentially serious negative side-effects. Even that level of caveating prompted consternation from some quarters who said, with limited legitimacy, that inclusion of climate engineering in the report somehow normalises it.
There often appears to be no role for cautious moderates who see the value in careful, thoughtful and transparent research in this public debate.
You are either to be damned for even thinking about climate engineering, and assumed to be in it for money or glory, or you are pandering to the anti-science, anti-technology eco-fascists. Most serious thinkers, however, sit somewhere between the two, broadly positive about careful research without severe climatological or societal impact but instinctively against deployment. Although the point is laboured, a distinction between research and deployment must be part of one’s personal framing.
Mine is simple. We are better off knowing everything we can about all our options, however unpalatable, while being mindful of undermining efforts on greening our energy sector and, more than that, our own lives. Deployment of technologies at global-scale with trans-boundary effects must be a last resort…
Very few serious researchers are strongly in favour of deployment. Most, like me, would see it as tragedy; nothing less than a total abdication of our responsibility of planetary stewardship, were we to actually get to the point where deployment of global climate-altering technology was deemed necessary. The IPCC’s latest report clearly indicates that with every decision we make to value the economy more highly than the environment we make climate engineering more likely.