Red light/green light/red light for geoengineering

Reducing emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases isn’t the only way to fight climate change. A number of scientists are pointing to the field of geoengineering to get the job done.
Carbon sequestration is a form of geoengineering, but there are a number of other techniques that might seem a bit more “out there” to the average person. This includes blocking sunlight with earth orbiting mirrors and improving the ocean’s ability to absorb CO2 by seeding it with iron (which the United Nations isn’t a fan of this quite yet).
But one group of scientists is about to endorse research into geoengineering “as part of a three-pronged approach to coping with climate change.” A draft of the group’s position statement calls for:

• Enhanced research on the scientific and technological potential for geoengineering the climate system, including research on intended and unintended environmental responses.

• Coordinated study of historical, ethical, legal, and social implications of geoengineering that integrates international, interdisciplinary, and intergenerational issues and perspectives and includes lessons from past efforts to modify weather and climate.

• Development and analysis of policy options to promote transparency and international cooperation in exploring geoengineering options along with restrictions on reckless efforts to manipulate the climate system.

But someone in Congress (or some staffer) must be looking to head off such efforts.
On page 271 of this amendment to the House bill (just an amendment, mind you since the whole bill is massive), there’s a small yet very specific paragraph:

The terms ”sequestered” and ”sequestration” mean the separation, isolation, or removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, as determined by the Secretary. The terms include biological sequestration, but do not include ocean fertilization techniques.

It’s a small bit of phrasing, but the devil is always in the details.


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