From: John Shepherd, NewScientist
Published September 3, 2009 08:21 AM

Do mention the 'G' word

MOST people and nations now recognize the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid dangerous climate change. However, there is a growing fear that this fragile support for action could be at risk because geoengineering - the large-scale manipulation of the environment to counteract climate change - is now receiving serious attention from scientists, policy-makers and the media.

This is sometimes referred to as the "moral hazard" argument. It holds that even discussing geoengineering methods, such as fertilizing the oceans with iron or seeding clouds with sea water, may lead to a drop in support for emissions reductions because of a premature conviction that geoengineering could provide an easier way out.

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If the mere mention of geoengineering were to have such an effect on public opinion, it would be a serious matter. Social and political inertia are already an impediment to tackling climate change, and it is not hard to imagine that people may prefer to put their faith in untried technologies rather than change their high-carbon lifestyles.

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