Is Geoengineering Climate Adaptation?

On the first anniversary of my blog, I find it remarkable that I have yet to mention Geoengineering.  It’s been satisfying to focus on corporate climate adaptation as it relates to investors, the insurance industry, CEO communications in a crisis and the how tos of a corporate climate adaptation plan, among other topics. But today, I’m thinking beyond the limits of corporate America to a global adaptation: geoengineering – the deliberate modification of a planet's environment by the addition or subtraction of a resource or energy input on a massive scale.  

Thanks to Marc Gunther, who created the most interesting elements of this April’s Fortune Brainstorm Green, a geoengineering discussion with Harvard physicist and entrepreneur David Keith, I was reminded of the timeliness of this important topic.   Among other things, Dr. Keith is a proponent of developing industrial scale technologies for capturing carbon dioxide from the air.  May’s New Yorker article The Climate Fixers by Michael Specter offered a layperson’s perspective.  Then in June EDF’S Newsletter, EDF initiates global conversation on geoengineering, and USA Today Dan Vergano’s, Can geoengineering put the freeze on global warming? , focused my attention on the issue again. While I may think geoengineering should stop at cloud seeding to protect the Olympics, it seems only a matter of time before we apply geoengineering at a bigger scale.  So I ask:

  1. Who gets to test this big idea?
  2. What is the size of the pilot? Local, regional, national or global scale?
  3. When do we start the experiment? Is now the right time, before the oceans acidify and the glaciers melt irreversibly (in this millennium)?
  4. Can we control these experiments? Who is to say a storm or drought that occurs after them is not due to some other force? How will we know that consequences are due to geoengineering?
  5. Who pays?  Some claim the costs are declining, but can international bodies prioritize the funds, and should they be the bank?
  6. How shall we feel when a country or sector at extreme risk from climate change takes matters into its own hands?
  7. Who should be the winners and the losers? Is it better or worst that we cannot necessarily predict the outcome?    Do emerging economies get a break, or do the poor remain at greatest risk?

I wish I could devote more time to studying the science, technologies, engineering – as well as politics and international government of this issue. For now, I content myself with these questions.