Monbiot attacks geo-engineering

In: Uncategorized

30 Aug 2006

It is unusual for environmentalists to want to discuss the viability of geoengineering – large scale projects designed to modify the climate – as a solution to global warming. Normally they emphasise that curbing emissions of greenhouse cases must be central to any strategy of dealing with global warming. Greens are loath to give credibility to any alternative strategies for dealing with the problem.

But yesterday George Monbiot launched a scathing attack on geoengineering in one of his regular Guardian columns. No doubt he was partially motivated by the fact that such a scheme was recently proposed by Paul Crutzen, winner of the 1995 prize for chemistry, in this month’s issue of Climatic Change. Crutzen suggests pumping sulphate particles into the stratosphere to help counter global warming. Monbiot – who is not a scientist – counters that declining rainfall would mean that hundreds of thousands of Africans could die of starvation as a result.

But to me the word “responsible” in the following paragraph from Monbiot’s article is the giveaway. His main concern is not the science but upholding a morality based on lower consumption:

“The only responsible way to tackle climate change is to reduce the amount of climate-changing gases we emit. To make this possible, we must suppress the political and economic costs of the necessary cut (added emphasis).”

Monbiot’s book on climate change is published by Penguin next month