a case for climate engineering

A Case for Climate Engineering by David Keith (MIT Press)

The warming caused by greenhouse gas pollution could theoretically be offset by intentionally pumping a different kind of climate-altering pollution into the atmosphere. 

It’s an idea we should be researching seriously, says Canadian scientist David Keith, author of the new book A Case for Climate Engineering.

Using such climate engineering or geoengineering techniques over the next half century could significantly reduce the rate of climate change temporarily, he told CBC’s Quirks & Quarks Saturday.

“That would have real benefits in reducing the harm caused by CO2 — harm caused to vulnerable people who will see crops fail from heat stress, for example, or vulnerable ecosystems like the High Arctic of Canada,” said Keith, a professor of public policy and applied physics and engineering at Harvard University.

On the other hand, he said, climate engineering is also “a Band-Aid of the most ugly kind," and critics argue it could encourage the world to emit more carbon dioxide pollution and discourage cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.

Keith spoke to Quirks & Quarks host Bob McDonald about the science behind climate engineering technology, the risks and benefits of different forms of the technology, the arguments for and against using climate engineering, what still needs to be done before it could be deployed, and why he thinks we should still consider this technology despite the risks.