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Governance of Geoengineering: A Global Issue in Search of a Global Solution

American Bar Association, Matt Ruth– “Dumping iron particles into the open ocean; spraying reflective aerosols from a set of balloons into the atmosphere—these ideas may sound benign, but they are examples of attempts to experiment with geoengineering. Geoengineering involves making deliberate, large-scale changes to the Earth’s environment and covers a broad range of technologies. Proposed geoengineering technologies fall into two broad categories: (1) methods for removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, also known as carbon sequestration; and (2) methods for reducing the amount of sunlight trapped as heat by the atmosphere. The use of geoengineering is discussed in the context of climate change as a way to mitigate the damaging effects of carbon dioxide release and help protect civilization from the worst of climate change’s effects. The technologies that fit the definition of geoengineering range from space-based mirrors reflecting sunlight before it reaches Earth, to more easily achieved methods like dumping iron into the ocean to trigger algal growth, as mentioned above…Understanding the effects of these types of technologies will be important as humanity looks to protect itself from climate change. For humanity to reap the benefits of geoengineering and protect ourselves from climate change, it must be governed from research through deployment. This array of untested strategies for altering the global climate will require a flexible governance framework capable of protecting people while allowing responsible research to progress…”

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