April 13, 2009

Obama and Geo-engineering? Yes, you can – but don't!

Reported musing by Obama Advisor is dangerous

Ottawa – Reports[1] from an Associated Press interview with U.S. Chief Science Advisor John Holdren claiming that the White House could now be taking a serious look at geo-engineering – including the radical proposal to shoot nanoparticles of sulphate into the earth’s atmosphere – are causing alarm around the world. “If this is somebody's trial balloon to test Obama's acceptance of geo-engineering, the White House should shoot it down immediately,” says Pat Mooney, executive director of ETC Group, an Ottawa-based civil society organization that has been monitoring geo-engineering technologies since 2006. Geo-engineering refers to large-scale, intentional manipulations of the planet's climate and other systems.

Holdren is quoted as saying that an experimental measure such as shooting sulphate into the atmosphere has “got to be looked at,” adding, “we don’t have the luxury of taking any approach off the table.” As reported, these comments seem to signal a change from earlier writings in which Holdren warned of “serious side effects” of geo-engineering.[2]

“The most disturbing aspect of geo-engineering is that unlike the Kyoto Protocol, which requires a broad consensus to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, geoengineering is a luxury afforded only to superpowers, who can unilaterally decide to adjust the earth's climate to their liking. That John Holdren is reported as countenancing shooting sulphate nanoparticles into the atmosphere is especially alarming.”

“The potential side effects of polluting the upper atmosphere with sulphates could be devastating – ranging from ozone depletion and increased drought to threats to health,” explains Jim Thomas of ETC Group. “Worst of all, once governments start shooting up these particles into the atmosphere, we may find ourselves addicted. Stopping would prompt a massive and sudden jump in temperature. Of all the wacky geo-engineering schemes out there, this one is probably the most dangerous and the most unjust. It would be irresponsible to contemplate real-world testing of this technology.”


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