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Is Latin America prepared for a debate over geoengineering?

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The Bipartisan Policy Center released a report this week on geoengineering research, also covered by the NYT, Rolling Stone and the Natural Security Blog.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, geoengineering (or "climate remediation" to use the term in the report) is the controversial concept of using technology to intentionally reshape aspects of the Earth and its atmosphere in a way that counteracts climate change. For example, imagine if you could release a gas into the air that would cause global cooling and could balance out the global warming (see this article from The Atlantic in 2009 for some good discussion on the topic). Obviously, attempting to do something like that would be challenging, have significant impacts around the globe, and could be devastating if done incorrectly.

There are many debates surrounding the issue, but for Latin America, four questions are pertinent.

1.) Within Latin America, who can do the scientific research? Latin America needs the science and technology base, if not to attempt geoengineering, then at least to help policymakers understand the issue and have an informed position on the debate as it occurs globally. Without more scientists working on environmental issues, Latin America will sit on the sidelines of this debate.

2.) Who should govern geoengineering globally? Given that any attempt to do this would have a global impact, most people feel some sort of international governance and regulation should be created. The rules of this are up in the air and Latin America will certainly want a seat at that table, even if they are not the ones attempting the science.


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