Sunday, May 3, 2009

The politics of climate hacking

Add this to your list of climate nightmare scenarios: In 2040, facing rising seas, the Qatari government starts polluting the stratosphere in order to cool the planet, precipitating an international crisis and possibly upsetting monsoon patterns. Freelance atmospheric modification may sound far-fetched, but the potboiler concept was on the agenda last week at an invitation-only, international workshop in Lisbon, Portugal. The private event was the first global powwow designed to explore the political aspects of geoengineering, or the deliberate manipulation of the climate. About 30 scientists and bureaucrats, representing 14 nations, mulled over the implications of global climate control in a wood-paneled conference room. The setting was the verdant grounds of an arts-and-science foundation started half a century ago by Armenian oil baron Calouste Gulbenkian.

(I know, it sounds like science fiction. But landing on the moon was considering science fiction as recently as 60 years ago. The scenario laid out in this story is not unthinkable or scientifically impossible to achieve. For a very interesting read click here).

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