Overview of geoengineering options

Instructors looking for a good overview of climate geoengineering options should consider David W. Keith’s chapter in Climate Change Science & Policy (Schneider, et al., eds. 2010) (Chapter 49, Engineering the Planet).

Among the key take-aways from the chapter are the following:

  1. Geoengineering is “intentional, large-scale manipulation of the environment.” Environmental change must be the goal rather than a side effect, and intent and effect of manipulation must be large in scale;
  2. Two primary geoengineering methods are adding aerosols to the atmosphere and construction of giant shields in space to scatter sunlight.
    • While sulfur injection geoengineering would mimic impacts of other anthropogenic activities, e.g. coal combustion, a key distinction is that this intervention would be intentional, opening “a new chapter in humanity’s relationship with the Earth;”
    • The Presidential Science Advisory Committee report submitted to President Johnson was not only the first major government policy document to draw attention to potential impact of carbon dioxide emissions on climate, but that it also offered only one potential response, which was dispersing reflective particles in the atmosphere;
    • Sulfur injection schemes would cost roughly a fact0r of ten less than mitigation options to address climate change. Such options could be in the reach of rich individuals or foundations;
    • While some studies indicate that sulfur injection could adversely impact the ozone layer, the use of absorbing aerosols could offset some or all of these effects
    • Space-based sunshields would have fewer and more predictable side effects than aerosol injection
    • Just as safer cars may encourage more aggressive driving, geoengineering options could reduce incentive to cut emissions. However, geoengineering might be necessary if aggressive mitigation strategies prove to be insufficient, e.g. if climate’s sensitivity to carbon dioxide proves greater than projected or our mitigation measures still fail to prevent rapid deglaciation and substantial sea level rise. Geoengineering shouldn’t be viewed as a substitute for mitigation, because to do so would require an ever growing scale of technological compensation to offset growing carbon dioxide measures. Geoengineering could be used in conjunction with mitigation to reduce risks of climate change during the period of peak carbon dioxide concentrations;
  3. It’s misleading to argue that we shouldn’t pursue geoengineering options because of the impossibility of predicting systemic responses. Should concentrations of greenhouse gases rise to 600ppm, it’s unreasonable to argue that the risks of 600ppm along would be larger than the risks of 600ppm and deployment of a geoengineering scheme.

Oxford Post-Doc in Geoengineering


Oxford Geoengineering Programme
Oxford Martin School
University Of Oxford

Protocol reference number: HUM/10033F/E

Grade 8:  £36,715 – £43,840 per annum at 1 October 2010

Fixed-term for two years from date of appointment.

Applications are invited for a full-time Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Ethics and Geoengineering Governance to work on a project in the newly formed Oxford Geoengineering Programme (OGP). The post will be jointly hosted by the Institute for Science and Ethics (ISE)  (part of the Faculty of Philosophy) and the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society (InSIS) (part of the Saïd Business School), both of which are part of the Oxford Martin School.

The Research Fellow will conduct research on the ethical, legal and governance implications of advances in geoengineering and will be expected to publish original, high-quality research.  In addition to research responsibilities the postholder will be expected to contribute to the project in other ways, which may include, for example, involvement in conference or other event organisation and engaging in collaborations with external researchers.

The fellowship is for two years from the date of appointment and the postholder will be a Research Fellow of both ISE and InSIS. ISE is based at Littlegate House, central Oxford and InSIS is based at the Saïd Business School nearby.

Candidates should have a strong academic background in one or more of the following: (1) Philosophy; (2) Politics and International Relations; (3) Environmental Sociology; (4) Political Anthropology; (4) Law; (5) Science and Technology Studies.  By the date of appointment, candidates should have received (or submitted their thesis for) the degree of PhD (or equivalent).

Further particulars: FPs including details of the application procedure are available here or from the following websites:


or directly from Deborah Sheehan, ISE, Suite 8, Littlegate House, 16-17 St Ebbes St., Oxford OX1 1PT.
Telephone: +44 (0)1865 286888  |  Email: 

Deadline:  The deadline for receipt of applications is:  Noon (GMT) on Monday 14 February 2011

GMU Center Postdoctoral Research Fellow Opportunity

The George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication (4C) (http://climate.gmu.edu) invites applications for a full-time Postdoctoral Research Fellow to contribute to our ongoing Climate Change in the American Mind research program (conducted in collaboration with the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication).  The program involves survey research (including nationally representative surveys, community surveys, membership organization surveys, etc.), message experiments, in-depth interviews, and audience segmentation research.  The post-doc may also get involved in other research and programmatic activity at 4C including collaborations with the public health/health care community, TV weathercasters, and communities that are planning climate change adaptation initiatives.

Candidates must have a PhD in a relevant social science discipline, and a track record of published journal articles and/or conference papers on relevant topics of inquiry including communication (climate change, science, environment, public health, and/or political communication), behavior change, applied psychology, political science, the built environment, social-ecological models, and/or informal science education. Proficiency in survey research and quantitative data management and analysis is also a requirement. Experience with qualitative data collection, strategic (program) planning, professional development, and climate science are preferred, as are excellent organizational skills, ability to communicate verbally and in writing, and the ability to adapt to the changing demands of a dynamic research environment.

The position begins as soon as February 15th and no later than April 1st, 2011. Salary will be commensurate with experience and qualifications. The position will initially be for one year, with renewal for a second year given satisfactory performance and available funds. Members of under-represented groups are particularly encouraged to apply.

For full consideration, interested and qualified applicants must submit the online faculty application at http://jobs.gmu.edu for position #F9452z. Applications should include (a) cover letter including a statement of research interests and career goals, and names and contact information of two professional references, and (b) a vita.

Inquires about the position can be sent to .

Answering the Skeptics

From David Hodas’s Climate Change Law blog:

For those of you interested in learning about the details and merits of the various arguments skeptics have raised about climate change science should read the whitepaper commissioned by DB Climate Change Advisors, Climate Change: Addressing the  Major Skeptic Arguments (September 2010). It was written by Mary-Elana Carr and others from Columbia University Earth Institute Climate Center and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Course: Climate Change Diplomacy

Dear Colleagues,

An e-learning course on Climate Change Diplomacy has been developed by the Multilateral Diplomacy Programme (MDP) of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). The course aims to provide the training necessary for participation in multilateral negotiations, public sector work, and diplomatic engagement in relation to climate change through an enhanced understanding of its science, international policy framework, and the key negotiation issues pertinent to reaching a post-2012 agreement.

The course will run from February 21st until April 15th, 2011.

The course content will include the following one-week modules:

1.              Understanding Climate Change and Global Vulnerabilities

2.              Introduction to Climate Change Diplomacy

3.              Implementation, Compliance and Enforcement of the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol

4.              Mitigating Climate Change

5.              Adapting to Climate Change

6.              International Considerations for Climate Change Decision Making

7.              Other Important Considerations for International Climate Change Negotiations

8.              Towards a Post-2012 Agreement

More information can be found online at http://www.unitar.org/event/climate-change-diplomacy-feb11

Registration for the course is now open.  Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Please do not hesitate to contact Miss Emily Fraser () should you require any further details/information regarding the course (further contact details are as below).

With kind regards,

Emily Fraser
Ms. Emily Fraser

Multilateral Diplomacy Programme
United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)
Palais des Nations
1211 Genève 10
T: +41(0)22-917 8810
E: [email protected]

Short course in climate resilience: UNU


Spring 2011 Postgraduate Courses on

Building Resilience to Climate Change

28 February – 25 March 2011

Tokyo, Japan



DEADLINE: 21 January 2011


The United Nations University Institute for Sustainability and Peace (UNU-ISP), Tokyo, invites applications for the new intensive 4-week postgraduate programme on  “Building Resilience to Climate Change” developed under the framework of the University Network for Climate and Ecosystems Change Adaptation Research (UN-CECAR).

The new courses, conducted at UNU-ISP, cover a range of issues on sustainability and adaptation to climate and ecosystems change. Topics include:

  • climate and atmospheric science,
  • impacts assessment,
  • climate and society,
  • ecosystems resilience,
  • risk and uncertainty,
  • integrated solutions for mitigation and adaptation,
  • community-based adaptation strategies.

Students also will receive practical training in the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing software.


A limited number of fellowships (covering tuition fees and living expenses) are available for outstanding students from developing countries and who can demonstrate a need for financial assistance. All students are expected to pay for their own travel expenses to and from Tokyo.


The programme is open to Master’s and Ph.D students who are currently enrolled in a university postgraduate programme and who have already identified their thesis topic prior to arriving in Japan.

Applicants must provide:

  • a completed Application & Fellowship Form with photo and signature;
  • proof of enrolment in a master’s or Ph.D. degree programme;
  • original transcript of academic record;
  • a detailed proposal of their research topic, and explain how it will link their current university thesis topic to that of climate change;
  • TOEFL scores or equivalent proof of English-language proficiency for non-native speakers or those who do not have an academic degree in an English-speaking country; and
  • minimum of two references; one from their supervisor and one from another faculty member.

For detailed information on the application and admission procedures, and to download the application form, please visit the UNU-ISP website at:


Alva Lim (Ms.)

Researcher, and

Project Assistant for UN-CECAR

United Nations University

Institute for Sustainability and Peace (ISP)

Tel: +81-3-5467-1213

Fax: +81-3-3499-2828

IUCN Climate Syllabi Bank

iucn_academy_logo_22969For readers who teach courses with climate change law and policy components, I’d like to remind you about the IUCN’s Academy of Environmental Law syllabus bank. The bank contains more than 150 syllabi, and is updated on a regular basis.

If any of you wish to submit a syllabus for the first time, or an update of a previously submitted one, please send the documents to my attention at: [email protected].

Thanks, wil burns



Climate Change Online Courses

CSDi is announcing the January launch of a module of four online field courses on Community-Based Adaptation to Climate Change. These courses begin by introducing basic climate change concepts, and develop as participants identify local community vulnerabilities, investigate appropriate solutions, develop full projects, launch and manage them.

Complete information and course syllabi:


Online course participants are using our courses to develop real, on-the-ground projects with real communities – both individually and through North/South student partnerships. People from 84 different countries and 150 organizations used CSDi online courses to develop projects in 2010 impacting 70.000 people.


OL 341. Adapting to Climate Change: Designing & Funding Community-Based Adaptation Projects.

January 11 – March 7, 2011.

Gain an insight into contemporary methods of developing community-based, sustainable, impact-oriented projects. Gain practical field tools and develop a range of skills: facilitating participatory needs assessments, designing projects, and evidence-based activities. Develop a real project in real time.

OL 342. Adapting to Climate Change: Planning for Impact.

March 15 – May 2, 2011.

Imbed impact into your adaptation project design with a powerful set of management tools. LogFrames, detailed budgets, timelines, compelling fact sheets, M&E plans, outcomes and impact. These tools will communicate to donors and stakeholders exactly what you are trying to accomplish and can be used for effective management of the project once funded.

OL 343. Adapting to Climate Change: The Community Focus.

May 10 – June 20, 2011.

What does climate change adaptation mean at the community level? What practical tools are available today for communities to use in adaptation? Conduct a baseline survey. For practitioners who wish to begin working now at the community level to successfully adapt to the challenges that face us.

OL 344. Adapting to Climate Change: Sustainable Implementation.

July 12 – August 22, 2011.

How do you launch and implement a community-centered adaptation project? The importance of community engagement. Developing skill sets for your community to use in the adaptation process. Learning tools: monitoring & evaluation. Community empowerment during project hand-over. Sustainability, follow-up & mentoring.

Be sure to visit the adaptation working group at CSDi’s Development Community. Join colleagues in sharing resources & collaborating online:


Questions? Please contact:

Geoengineering Potential of Mineral Weathering Schemes

For instructors who include a module on climate geoengineering, there is a very good new article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States on the carbon dioxide removal option of mineral sequestration, Mineral sequestration is a geoengineering approach that contemplates acceleration of the natural weathering process, producing a reaction between silicate rocks and carbon dioxide that forms solid carbonate and silicate materials. The reaction consumes one carbon dioxide molecule for each silicate molecule, with storage of carbon as a solid mineral.  The PNAS article focuses on silicate weathering of the mineral olivine.

Among the article’s take-aways:

  1. Enhanced silicate weathering by dissolution of olivine in the humid tropics, an optimal area to effectuate this scheme, could store approximately 1 Pg of carbon per year. This is 20% less than estimated in some previous studies;
  2. Another complementary option would be to dissolve olivine powder in open ocean surface waters. This could increase sequestration to a maximum of 5 Pg of carbon annually. This could reduce warming by 0.6-1.1K
    • The increase of riverine input of silicic acid into the world’s oceans might also enhance the marine biological pump, ultimately enhancing oceanic sequestration of carbon dioxide
  3. Environmental impacts need to be further assessed , including potential increases in alkalinity and silic acid in soils and aquatic ecosystems.

Webinar on Misconceptions about Climate Change

Hello and Happy New Year!

Is your New Year’s resolution to learn more about strategies for teaching climate change? If so, we can help!

Our January webinar will cover the lively topic of student misconceptions about climate change, and will be presented by Susan Buhr. The webinar is nearly full, so if you are interested in attending please register soon. I predict we’ll be capping registration for this event fairly soon. All the details are below.



Please join us January 21st for an On the Cutting Edge Climate & Energy Series webinar on:
Misconceptions About Climate Change, by Susan Buhr, University of Colorado

Time – 10:00 am Pacific | 11:00 am Mountain | 12:00 pm Central | 1:00 pm Eastern
Duration – 1 hour. The presentation will be 45 minutes, followed by 15 minutes of discussion.
Format – Online web presentation via phone and Elluminate web conference software with questions and answers following.

Webinar goal:
Assist educators of climate science in identifying the most common misconceptions of climate change and in developing strategies for how to handling these in classroom learning.

– There is no registration fee, but registration is required to save a space (and because space is limited to 20, be sure you can commit before registering). Registration closes when the spaces fill or one week before each event, whichever comes first.

Web page and registration form

There is no shortage of misconceptions, misinformation and inaccuracies within the topic of climate change. Along with teaching evolution, climate change remains one of the most highly controversial topics in today’s science classroom. This presentation will identify common misconceptions held by students and will offer pedagogic strategies for handling various types of misconceptions in the college classroom. During the discussion portion of the session, participants will be encouraged to share their own techniques that have been successful. Dr. Buhr directs the Education Outreach program of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado.

If you missed our December Book Club, but would like to review the summary of the discussion with links, please visit our webpage: http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/climatechange/webinar/dec.html

thank you,

Climate & Energy Webinar Series Planning Team
Karin Kirk — Science Education Resource Center (SERC) at Carleton College
Jimm Myers — University of Wyoming
Katryn Wiese — City College of San Francisco