The Azimuth Project
Geoengineering (Rev #9)



Geoengineering is a name for various proposals to deliberately manipulate the Earth’s climate to counteract the effects of global warming. The National Academy of Sciences has defined geoengineering as “options that would involve large-scale engineering of our environment in order to combat or counteract the effects of changes in atmospheric chemistry”:

  • Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP), National Academy of Sciences, Policy Implications of Greenhouse Warming: Mitigation, Adaptation, and the Science Base, Section 28: Geoengineering, 1992.

The 2007 IPCC report concluded that geoengineering options, such as ocean fertilization to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, remained largely unproven. It was judged that reliable cost estimates for geoengineering had not yet been published:

However, there is still considerable interest in geoengineering, because many people deem it difficult to reduce carbon emissions in time to prevent dangerous global warming.

Example proposals

There is an analysis by Tim Lenton of the University of East Anglia which concludes that only geoengineering that reflects sunlight are able to have a large enough effect over a sufficiently short time interval. (He also projects that most of these are mechanisms that need continually replenishing, and in the event of discontinuing an even more dramatic rise in temperatures could occur.)


  • Geoengineering, Wikipedia.

  • Geoengineering faces ban is an excellent article in Nature News summarising some of the latest geoengineering developments.

  • Royal Society. 2009 Geoengineering the climate: science, governance and uncertainty. London, UK: Royal Society.

  • American Geophysical Union (AGU), 2009: AGU position statement: Geoengineering the climate system [see:].

  • American Meteorological Society, 2009: Geoengineering the climate system: A policy statement of the American Meteorological Society, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 90(9), 1369–1370.

During 22-26 March 2010 there was a conference at Asilomar that recommended a list of principles for geoengineering research. The conference was called the Asilomar International Conference on Climate Intervention, and its recommendations appear in this report:

Here are some of the references from this report:

  • Crutzen, P. J., 2006: Albedo enhancement by stratospheric sulfur injections: A contribution to resolve a policy dilemma? Climatic Change 77, 211– 220, doi:10.1007/s10584-006-9101-y.

  • MacCracken, M. C., 2009: Beyond Mitigation: Potential Options for Counter-Balancing the Climatic and Environmental Consequences of the Rising Concentrations of Greenhouse Gases, Background Paper to the 2010 World Development Report, Policy Research Working Paper (RWP) 4938, The World Bank, Washington, DC, May 2009, 43 pp.

  • Rayner, S., C. Redgwell, J. Savulescu, N. Pidgeon and T. Kruger, 2009: Memorandum on draft principles for the conduct of geoengineering research, (the ‘Oxford Principles’) reproduced in House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, The Regulation of Geoengineering, Fifth Report of the Session 2009-10, Report together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence, HC 221, 18 March 2010.

  • Royal Society (prepared by J. Shepherd et al.), 2009: Geoengineering the Climate: Science, Governance and Uncertainty, London: Science Policy Centre of The Royal Society, 98 pp.

  • Schneider, S. H., 2001: Earth systems: Engineering and management, Nature 409, 417–421.

  • UNEP (prepared by C. P. McMullen and J. Jappour), 2009: Climate Change Science Compendium 2009, United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi, Earthprint, 70 pp.

  • Wigley, T. M., 2006: A combined mitigation/geoengineering approach to climate stabilization, Science 314, 452 – 454, doi:10.1126/science.1131728.

category: geoengineering