Climate Engineering: Future Guiding Principles and Ethics

IMG_1971On Dec. 4, 2014 the Ecological Society of America co-organized a congressional briefing: “Climate Engineering: Future Guiding Principles and Ethics.”

The briefing was presented by the Ecological Society of America and American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America , Soil Science Society of America. Over fifty Hill staff attended the briefing held in the Cannon House Office Building.

Climate engineering —also known as geoengineering—is the deliberate, global-scale manipulation of Earth’s climate system. Climate engineering opens our planet to possible hazards and unknown consequences. In order to manage risks and limit experiments with trans-boundary implications the international scientific community is developing a framework of guiding principles and ethics– encompassing the potential social, ecological and economic effects.

Briefing Speakers:

Bart GordonThe Honorable Bart Gordon of Tennessee, former House Science and Technology Committee Chairman, served in the US House of Representatives for 26 years. He served as Chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology from 2007 to 2010. In 2007, Chairman Gordon sponsored the America COMPETES Act, signed into law by President Bush, which promotes federal investments in research and innovation in order to make the US more globally competitive. In 2010, he sponsored and secured passage of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act. Signed by President Obama, the act renewed federal commitment to scientific research and education, which included a new provision supporting prize competitions to further incentivize innovation. During his tenure as Science and Technology Committee Chairman, he held a committee hearing on climate engineering, “Engineering the Climate: Research Needs and Strategies for International Coordination.” (moc.setaglknull@nodrog.trab


image002Paul M. Bertsch is Deputy Director of Australia’s national science agency Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Land and Water Flagship, which provides the science to underpin Australia’s economic, social and environmental prosperity through stewardship of land and water resources ecosystems, and urban areas. He is aso Professor of Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology, and Director of the Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment at the University of Kentucky and is Georgia Power Professor Emeritus of Soil and Environmental Chemistry at the University of Georgia and an Adjunct Professor of Environmental Systems Engineering and Science at Clemson University.

He is past-Chair of the U.S. National Committee for Soil Science at the National Academy of Sciences, is a former President of the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), and is Past-chair of the Council for Scientific Society Presidents. He has been elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society of Agronomy, the Soil Science Society of America, and the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, and was recently elected a lifetime National Associate of the National Academy of Sciences. (ua.oriscnull@hcstreB.luaP)

View  Dr. Bersch’s presentation 

Michael McCrackenMichael MacCracken has been the Chief Scientist for Climate Change Programs with the Climate Institute in Washington DC since his retirement from the University of California in October 2002. His current research interests include human-induced climate change and consequent impacts, climate engineering, and the beneficial effects of limiting emissions of non-CO2 greenhouse gases. From 1968-93 he led studies at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory using computer models to evaluate the climatic effects of volcanic aerosols, land-cover change, nuclear war, and the increasing CO2 concentration. From 1993-97, he served as the first executive director of the interagency Office of the US Global Change Research Program and then from 1997-2001 as executive director of the National Assessment Coordination Office for the first national U.S climate impacts assessment. He also previously served as president of the International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences (2003-07) and as an integration team member for the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (2002-04). His legal declaration on standing based on the impacts of climate change on the United States was cited favorably by Justice Stevens in his majority opinion in the April 2007 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision of Massachusetts et al. versus the Environmental Protection Agency that has allowed EPA to start regulating greenhouse gas emissions. (gro.etamilcnull@nekcarccamm)

View Dr. MacCracken’s presentation

For more information about climate engineering, download NOAA’s State of the Science, Climate Engineering FAQ Sheet