Geoengineering—or the concept of trying to artificially alter the Earth's climate to combat climate change—has always been a contentious topic. Matthew has already made the case for why not all forms of geoengineering are created equal, and gave a cautious welcome to a UN moratorium on geoengineering. Now James Murray over at Business Green has a witty piece on the inevitable in-fighting and paralysis that many green groups are experiencing over the topic, and suggests that the field is way too diverse and complex for folks to adopt blanket pro- or anti-geoengineering positions without considering the benefits and drawbacks individual techniques and technologies:
I have heard afforestation projects described as 'geo-engineering', which is technically correct given the impact they can have on carbon concentrations in the atmosphere. I'm guessing those green groups criticising investment in geo-engineering research do not mean research into the effectiveness of forest carbon sinks, although they do probably mean research into genetically modified trees capable of soaking up greater levels of carbon dioxide.
Similarly, it is hard to imagine anyone objecting to proposals to paint buildings and urban streets white as a means of tackling urban hot-spots. It may be described in some quarters as geo-engineering, but this cost-effective technique of lowering local temperatures has been demonstrated for centuries in hot countries, has been shown to reduce energy use and, if scientists are to be believed, could have a positive global climate impact if widely adopted.