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Sept. 1: Carnegie Mellon Adjunct Professor David Keith Studies Geoengineering as Tool To Limit Extreme Climate Change

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Chriss Swaney
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swaney@andrew.cmu.edu

Carnegie Mellon Adjunct Professor David Keith Studies
Geoengineering as Tool To Limit Extreme Climate Change

David KeithPITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University Adjunct Professor David Keith is a member of a high-level study group convened by the Royal Society (http://royalsociety.org/), the United Kingdom's National Academy of Science, to explore the feasibility of modifying the climate system to offset global warming should that ever become necessary. The report, the first by any national science academy devoted to geoengineering, was scheduled to be released in London today.

Keith, who holds a research chair in energy and the environment at the University of Calgary, Canada, is an adjunct professor in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy (EPP) at Carnegie Mellon. According to Keith, geoengineering may prove to be a useful way to manage climate risk, and research is needed despite concerns that research will divert attention from emission controls.

"While reducing emissions remains essential, prudence demands that we study methods that offer hope of limiting the environmental risks posted by the accumulation of fossil carbon in the atmosphere," said Keith, a member of the London-based Royal Society's geoengineering climate working group.

Created last year, the Royal Society's geoengineering group studied a wide range of proposals to determine whether they could be feasible or effective. Geoengineering involves using man-made technology to stem global warming. Some proposed fixes include injecting sulfur into the stratosphere or capturing CO2 from the air.

"Both because we may need it in an emergency, and because geoengineering is something a nation might start doing unilaterally, the time has come to undertake a transparent and globally coordinated program of research," said M. Granger Morgan, head of EPP. "There has been almost no serious research on planetary-scale geoengineering. We need to understand it better and be in a position to guard against unintended consequences," said Morgan, who also heads Carnegie Mellon's $8 million Climate Decision Making Center (CDMC). The center has conducted workshops in Washington, D.C., and Lisbon, Portugal, on developing strategies for addressing the global governance of geoengineering.

The CDMC focuses on helping people and organizations use available but uncertain information to improve their decisions about climate change. In addition to Carnegie Mellon, the center involves leading researchers from the University of British Columbia, the University of Calgary, Stanford University, the University of California at Berkley, Oxford University and several others.

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Pictured above is Adjunct Professor David Keith.