White House Should Coordinate Geoengineering Research to Help Fight Climate Change

The White House should come up with a strategy for federal research into large-scale intervention in the Earth's climate system that could help tackle climate change, a new watchdog report concludes.

The Government Accountability Office found in its report more than 50 current studies, totaling slightly more than $100 million, focusing on piecemeal strategies to reverse climate change, but none directly addresses what would happen if adventurous programs on carbon dioxide reduction and solar radiation management were put in place.

"Without a coordinated federal strategy for geoengineering, it is difficult for agencies to determine the extent of relevant research, and policymakers may lack key information to inform subsequent decisions on engineering and existing climate science efforts," the report said, adding that most of the $2 billion spent each year on federal climate science research could also help geoengineering with better coordination.

Geoengineering either removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or offsets temperature increases by reflecting sunlight back into space.

GAO cautioned that these strategies poses some environmental risks that could be hard to contain.

"Major uncertainties remain regarding the scientific, legal, political, economic and ethical implications of researching or deploying geoengineering," the GAO report read.

The GAO prepared the report for Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology.