AMS on Geoengineering

December 23, 2009

The American Meteorological Society has just adopted a policy on geoengineering. According to a little mousey, the AGU also adopted it, though I can’t find confirmation of that. Coupla quick thoughts:

Three proactive strategies could reduce the risks of climate change: 1) mitigation: reducing emissions; 2) adaptation: moderating climate impacts by increasing our capacity to cope with them; and 3) geoengineering: deliberately manipulating physical, chemical, or biological aspects of the Earth system2. This policy statement focuses on large-scale efforts to geoengineer the climate system to counteract the consequences of increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

I think this is a sloppy use of the term ‘geoengineering’. It’s way too wide. I prefer ‘remediation’, of which geoengineering is only one tool in the arsenal. If I remediate GHG emissions, I don’t necessarily geoengineer the earth.

The American Meteorological Society recommends:

1. Enhanced research on the scientific and technological potential for geoengineering the climate system, including research on intended and unintended environmental responses.

2. Coordinated study of historical, ethical, legal, and social implications of geoengineering that integrates international, interdisciplinary, and intergenerational issues and perspectives and includes lessons from past efforts to modify weather and climate.

3. Development and analysis of policy options to promote transparency and international cooperation in exploring geoengineering options along with restrictions on reckless efforts to manipulate the climate system.

Basically, they just want to do more research. At least they’re interested in addressing the “historical, ethical, legal, and social implications.” I’ll be curious as to how that works out. In my experience, such statements are mostly lip-service. Maybe I’ll try to pull together a panel or something and see how it flies.

Sorry for the slow posting season. I am frantically — frantically! — shoring up an argument for presentation at the APA next week (Wednesday, ISEE Group Session 9:00-11:00) and also juggling family stuff. Happy holidays!


  1. I’m confused. Is this new, or the same statement they’d finalized in July?

  2. Maybe the same statement they finalized in July (don’t know, didn’t see it then), but possibly also the case that AGU has now adopted it for themselves. Still trying to find independent verification of that.

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