BBC Analysis on geo-engineering

In: Uncategorized

31 Jul 2008

This week’s BBC Radio 4 Analysis programme, presented by Frances Cairncross, included the most detailed popular discussion of geo-engineering I have come across so far. In broad terms three possible techniques were identified:

• Removing carbon dioxide from the oceans.
• Removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
• Using lenses or mirrors to divert sunlight from the planet.

However, the discussion is still wracked with anxiety. On the one hand, some are arguing that things are getting so bad that geo-engineering might be necessary despite the possibility of damaging unintended consequences. On the other hand, others are worried that discussing geo-engineering could shift the discussion away from decarbonisation. An added worry seems to be that developing countries such as China and India – those that most need great increases in energy supply – could take a lead in developing the technology.

It is a pity there cannot be a more confident, forward-looking debate.