Climate manipulation "Woodstock" conference a dangerous distraction

Next week, the Asilomar International conference on climate intervention technologies will take place in Asilomar, California.

Organised by proponents of the controversial field of climate manipulation or ‘geo-engineering’, the conference will seek to establish a set of voluntary standards for climate intervention research for the international scientific community.

Friends of the Earth Australia
Media Release 19 March 2010

Next week, the Asilomar International conference on climate intervention technologies will take place in Asilomar, California.

Organised by proponents of the controversial field of climate manipulation or ‘geo-engineering’, the conference will seek to establish a set of voluntary standards for climate intervention research for the international scientific community.

Against growing international debate about whether geo-engineering is a high risk distraction from the real business of emissions reduction, the conference represents a huge practical and public relations push by proponents to get broader public and scientific backing.

What makes it so relevant for Australia is the fact that the government of Victoria is the sole major financial supporter of the conference.

Friends of the Earth campaigns co-ordinator Cam Walker said "It is Jeff Goodell, author of the forthcoming book, ‘How to Cool the Planet, Geoengineering and the Audacious Quest to Fix Earth's Climate’, who has billed the conference as the “Woodstock” of geo-engineering. If that is the case then the public is entitled to ask whether these mad hatter scientists will stay off delusional drugs when they are discussing the science that could profoundly modify our planet?"

"Geo-engineering is the most high risk and controversial of all emerging technologies. The Victorian public is entitled to ask why, having provided such generous support to this controversial conference, the Victorian government has signed up - sight unseen - to the recommendations of a gathering of geo-engineering proponents? This is like putting the fox in charge of the hen coop - and our planet's future is at stake."

"Geo engineering involves proposals to deliberately manipulate the Earth's climate to counteract the effects of global warming from greenhouse gas emissions. It includes options like injecting sulphate aerosols into the atmosphere, fertilising the oceans, 'hurricane modification' and 'whitening' clouds. It is potentially incredibly dangerous if experimentation goes wrong”.

“The most frequently touted approach, massive aerosol injection, has potentially catastrophic impacts of its own. If we go down the path of attempting to 'geo engineer' our climate through the use of untested technology we may find ourselves unable to escape from potentially disasterous - and unforeseen - side effects".

"This self-appointed conference intends to 'develop norms and guidelines for controlled experimentation on climate engineering or intervention techniques' through the creation of voluntary agreements".

"But the priority at this time is not to sort out the conditions under which this experimentation might take place but, rather, to decide whether the community of nations and peoples believes that geo-engineering is technically, legally, socially, environmentally and economically acceptable. To frame any further experimentation simply in terms of voluntary, opt in measures is simply not acceptable".

"Given the imperatives to reduce greenhouse emissions, especially in places like Victoria where we have a carbon heavy economy because of our reliance on dirty coal, the choice of the Victorian government to allocate large sums of public money to such a conference is inappropriate, if not bizarre."

For further comment: Cam Walker 0419 338 047