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Why do we need Solutions to Global Warming?

The atmosphere is the most valuable resource on the planet and as such every effort needs to be made to protect and manage it. Unfortunately the rise in greenhouse gases since the industrial revolution, and the intimately linked change in climate, is proving to be a most difficult environmental problem. Even though the strongest scientific evidence tells us that the anthropogenic release of greenhouse gases is responsible for climate change, there has been little success in emissions reduction. The reasons behind this failure are complex but the outcome is not; the regions of the Earth inhabited by humans are on average getting hotter and extreme weather is becoming more frequent. Since mitigation efforts against climate change are failing, the arguments for the possibility of geoengineering become louder. Geoengineering is a contentious issue which evokes strong reactions within all levels of society. Solar Radiation Management (SRM) technologies are more controversial than Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) technologies, since they do not solve the root cause of the problem, they do, however, potentially offer a more rapidly deployed solution. At present no geoengineering technology is fit for purpose or ready for deployment. However, geoengineering research is rapidly increasing with hundreds if not thousands of scientists and engineers working on the topic worldwide. As such, geoengineering research has now likely passed through its infancy, and conclusions are being reached about the efficacy, benefits and disadvantages of the different proposals. It seems increasingly likely that geoengineering technologies could be developed that will reduce climate change. These benefits need to be carefully weighed against the negative aspects. A true assessment of geoengineering cannot be achieved until we better understand the environmental, technological, economic and governance issues associated through its use.

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22 May 2014
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