Geo-engineering to combat climate change gets negative public response

Jan. 13, 2014 at 10:32 PM

SOUTHAMPTON, England, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Geo-engineering -- deliberate manipulation of the environment to counter climate change -- does not find favor with most of the public, a British study found.

That's the report of researchers from the University of Southampton, writing in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Working with colleagues at Massey University in New Zealand, they undertook the first systematic large-scale evaluation of public reaction to climate engineering.

Some scientists argue that climate engineering approaches -- perhaps involving techniques that reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere or approaches that slow temperature rise by reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth's surface -- will be required to combat the inexorable rise in atmospheric CO2 due to the burning of fossil fuels.

"Because even the concept of climate engineering is highly controversial, there is pressing need to consult the public and understand their concerns before policy decisions are made," said study co-author Damon Teagle of the University of Southampton.

Their evaluation found even the most well-regarded potential climate engineering techniques have a net negative perception and the public has strong negative views about them.

"It was a striking result and a very clear pattern," Massey researcher Malcolm Wright said. "Interventions such as putting mirrors in space or fine particles into the stratosphere are not well received.

"If these techniques are developed the public must be consulted."

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