The debate about geo-engineering is unstoppable. Strong interests push for research and experimental application. Geo-engineering is a play for time, at best, but always also a dangerous deviation from emission reduction and climate change adaptation. Properly conducted, the debate can help clarify the design of international institutions, argue R. Andreas Kraemer and Ralph Czarnecki of the Ecologic Institute in an article in Internationale Politik, Germany's leading foreign policy magazine.
The authors highlight the interests and the self-view of the promoters of geo-engineering, the planned and purposeful large-scale alteration of the world's chemical or physical characteristics in order to remove CO2 from the atmosphere or cool the planet by shading it or increasing its reflectivity. The debate triggered by their demands has only just begun; it will involve not only natural scientists but also ethicists, politicians and diplomats.
The main messages of the article are:
- The World's climate is not like a thermostat that can be turned up or down quickly and at will;
- The long-term consequences of climate engineering are neither known nor can they be controlled;
- For the first time in history, a global regulatory framework has to be developed from scratch;
- Presently, it would be best for adopt a moratorium on all unilateral or multilateral geo-engineering measures until the regulatory framework is in place.
The individual article (German) can be bought online for a fee of 2 Euros at the Website of Internationale Politik. The entire issue no. 1 of vol. 65 (2010) of Internationale Politik, containing the article, can be ordered for 14.90 Euros (plus packaging and postage).