Under my umbrella
CHICHELEY, England (AP) — To the quiet green solitude of an English country estate they retreated, to think the unthinkable.
Scientists of earth, sea and sky, scholars of law, politics and philosophy: In three intense days cloistered behind Chicheley Hall's old brick walls, four dozen thinkers pondered the planet's fate as it grows warmer, weighed the idea of reflecting the sun to cool the atmosphere and debated the question of who would make the decision to interfere with nature to try to save the planet.
The unknown risks of "geoengineering" — in this case, tweaking Earth's climate by dimming the skies — left many uneasy.
"If we could experiment with the atmosphere and literally play God, it's very tempting to a scientist," said Kenyan earth scientist Richard Odingo. "But I worry."
Arrayed against that worry is the worry that global warming — in 20 years? 50 years? — may abruptly upend the world we know, by melting much of Greenland into the sea, by shifting India's life-giving monsoon, by killing off marine life.
If climate engineering research isn't done now, climatologists say, the world will face grim choices in an emergency....
If research shows the stratospheric pollutants would reverse global warming, unhappy people "would realize the alternative to reducing emissions is blocking out the sun," Hamilton observed. "We might never see blue sky again."
If, on the other hand, the results are negative, or the risks too high, and global warming's impact becomes increasingly obvious, people will see "you have no Plan B," said EDF's Hamburg — no alternative to slashing use of fossil fuels.
Either way, popular support should grow for cutting emissions.
At least that's the hope.
Hope or plan?