Can we make a New Year’s resolution that will help save our climate?

The January 2nd edition of the Independent asked this question of various climate experts and got a wide variety of replies. Jim Lovelock, the author of the Gaia theory, says he never had any faith that the Kyoto agreement would work. The Independent quotes him as saying, “I strongly agree that we now need a ‘plan B,’ where a geoengineering strategy is drawn up in parallel with other measures to curb CO2 emissions. However, climate change is an earth system problem and the UN is not a suitable body to host or organize it.”

Researcher Steve Siems disagrees and says, “We need to try Plan A over and over and over again before even contemplating Plan B.”

California researcher Stephen Schneider agrees with Lovelock’s opinion of the UN and says that “any agreement can’t be?among only a few superpowers, but essentially the whole UN establishment, since the climate is a global commons. Until such a broad-based treaty is negotiated and accepted, I think any implementation of geoengineering by private parties or a few governments [such as the cloud seeding project suggested by Latham and Salter, below] should be illegal?with severe sanctions for violations.”

Researcher Chris Rapley says, “Jim Lovelock and I have been encouraging thought and exploration of means to ‘help the Earth help itself;’ i.e. by amplifying carbon sequestration processes that the Earth already practices?in the ocean and on land. I very much support the various tropical rainforest initiatives for this reason. My real concern is that the need to take action is now very urgent. Events in the Arctic suggest that we may already be passing through a significant ‘tipping point.'”

US researcher John Latham says, “Since CO2 levels seem certain to rise for a long time, we think it vital to examine geo-engineering schemes for stabilizing Earth’s temperature for long enough to allow alternative, clean forms of energy to be developed?[One] idea is to increase the reflectivity of shallow oceanic clouds by seeding them with seawater particles to increase their droplet numbers: thereby producing global cooling?The technique could hold Earth’s temperature constant for around 50 years, and?current values of Arctic ice cover could be maintained over this period.”

Engineer Stephen Salter says, “After many years trying to develop renewable energy I now believe that we are too late and so I am working on the engineering of John Latham’s idea for enhancing cloud albedo.”

Researcher Corinne Le Qu

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