Memorandum submitted by Alan Gadian (GEO
I am a scientist, who has specialised in the
"Cloud Whitening Scheme" Geoengineering Scheme. The
intention is to investigate a scheme that may provide a window
of opportunity of ~ 50 years in which a longer term solution
can be found to the rapidly warming Planet Earth.
1. The HoC S&T committee requested input
in response to three specific questions. (Appendix 1 contains
the remit specification). The "Carbon Dioxide Removal"
(CDR) methods are not discussed, in this submission, as being
of design to return the atmosphere to the status quo.
2. The comments below specifically refer
to the geoengineering "Solar Radiation Management" (SRM)
schemes, as referred to in the Royal Society Report, but could
also be applied to other compensatory schemes. Three "Solar
Radiation Management" (SRM) schemes referred to below are
"Cloud Whitening", (Planet Earth, www.planetearth.nerc.ac.uk,
2009-winter, p 9-11, issn 1475-2605) and "Stratospheric
Sulphur" and "Mirrors in Space" schemes
(National Geographica, 2009, August, p24). All schemes are briefly
discussed in the Institute of Physics Publication: "Geoengineering:
Challenges and Impacts", October 2009, "Report on seminar
in the House of Commons, 15 July 2009". This response
only refers to the scientific content in my area of expertise.
Two pdfs relating to the cloud whitening scheme for the "Planet
Earth" and the IOP case.
3. There is a need to make a good scientific
assessment of all the schemes being studied. The Royal Society
Report (published 1/9/09) recommended £10 million a
year for the next 10 years to assess the science behind the
scheme. £3.5 million over three years has been suggested
by EPSRC for a sandpit, but has not yet been arranged. Data from
Arctic ice reductions, and methane releases suggests that we might
have only ~ 10 years before it could be necessary to use
geoengineering schemes to prevent serious climate catastrophe.
Thus the funding of research activity is urgent.
Recommendation 1 is that there should be
urgent action to research into the science issues as well as discussion
of governance issues, which currently seem to be taking precedence.
There needs to be a significant programme of research immediately.
Scientists who are involved with the research, and not just heads
of Research Councils should be consulted about what is required:
it can be argued the prolonged procedures of a peer review system
is unsuitable for rapidly generation of new ideas.
Is there a need for international regulation of
geoengineering and geoengineering research and if so, what international
regulatory mechanisms need to be developed?
4. There is a need to define what is meant
and referred to as geoengineering. In the context of this submission,
I refer to it a "man made environmental change". As
in recommendation 1, there is an urgent need to complete geoengineering
research. Only if the results of the research are positive, should
positive action geoengineering schemes be considered. Thus the
current applicable question for research is: Is there a need
for international regulation of geoengineering research? Submissions
to the committee will say that some schemes are more dangerous
than others. This needs to be determined. In the Royal Society
Report, the figure of costs and dangers has been disputed by many
scientists, and this needs further scientific work. The Cloud
Whitening has been classified as "semi-dangerous" and
this is itself incorrect, as very recent peer reviewed literature
has demonstrated. Further, I do not believe that field trials
or experiments in "Cloud Whitening" do not have a "HIGH
need for international regulation".
Recommendation 2 is that specific geoengineering
schemes need to be in analysed, discussed and researched, before
an informed analysis and context of the need for regulation can
be applied for the assessment of each specific scheme.
5. For geoengineering research regulation,
the scale of the "geoengineering" needs to be considered.
Ship tracks caused by a ship moving across the sea, produce cloud
streaks which reflect solar radiation, and therefore could be
considered as a "SRM" Cloud Whitening experiment. The
fact that thousands of ship tracks are produced daily, does not
constitute research, or a significant issue. Thus geoengineering
research activity has to be considered in relation to what is
currently happening in everyday life. A further example of an
experiment, could be sulphur aerosols being dropped from a helicopter,
and measurements made of the increased reflectance of the sun
(as measured by other aircraft), and as carried out in Russia.
These releases of sulphur aerosols are far smaller than would
be emitted by a small coal power station, and therefore represent
a much smaller intervention than normal activity.
6. Taking the specific cases of "Cloud
Whitening" and "Atmospheric Sulphur Aerosol" schemes,
if they have only a local impact over an area of ~100km by ~100km,
effects can be shown to be undetectable outside this region, have
no impact on other nations or groups, and any perturbation experiment
has a lifetime of less than one month, then little regulation
is required. In such cases, international participation should
be encouraged, and no commercial funding, other than charitable
donations, should be permitted. Calibrated data should be made
freely available as soon as possible after the experiment.
Recommendation 3 is that where the nature
of the geoengineering research is in a locality, of size and duration
such that it is significantly smaller than other human emissions,
is not the subject of any commercial or private gain, and has
no impact on other regions outside the test zone, then there should
be a registry and full open documentation and no international
regulation is required.
7. For geoengineering research which occurs
on larger scales (eg. Sulphurs aerosols in the stratosphere, with
large residence times, large scale ocean fertilisation experiments)
then international regulation is required.
Recommendation 4 is that where the geoengineering
research is on a regional scale, there needs to be regulation.
8. International bodies, the UN, (eg groups
which developed the United Nations Outer Space Treaty, Environmental
Modification Convention, the United Nations Framework Convention
on Climate Change, United Nations Outer Space Treaty, United Nations
Arctic and Antarctic Environmental treaty), the London Convention,
the World Climate Research Programme, the WMO etc. should all
be consulted for the development of regulatory framework for dealing
Recommendation 5 is that all relevant international
bodies be consulted.
9. However, social acceptability should
be examined as part of geoengineering . Recent applications to
research councils for funding to examine this should be encouraged,
not vetoed as has happened in the past.
How should international regulations be developed
10. As a scientist, I would prefer that
international agencies should be paramount. I would express caution
that some organisations, such as IPCC, should take a major role.
Having been in conversation with scientists from smaller and less
well developed countries, there is concern that the IPCC is influenced
by the major "western" nations, and therefore more countries
should be involved, as is the case in the UN. This is an international
What UK regulatory mechanisms apply to geoengineering
and geoengineering research and what changes will need to be made
for purpose of regulating geoengineering?
11. As a scientist, I have no input here,
other than that DEFRA, DECC, maritime agencies are the best ones
to determine these.
NCAS, Environment, University of Leeds