The Inception and Purpose of the Climate Response Fund

Sep 9, 2011   //   by Administrator   //   Pivot Points in the Environment

“Not too many years from now, a new generation will look back at us in this hour of choosing and ask one of two questions.  Either they will ask, “What were you thinking?  Didn’t you see the entire North Polar ice cap melting before your eyes? Did you not care?” Or they will ask instead, “How did you find the moral courage to rise up and solve a crisis so many said was impossible to solve?” We must choose which of these questions we want to answer and we must give our answer now- not in words but in action.”           – Al Gore 

THE CLIMATE RESPONSE FUND

BACKGROUND

The Climate Response Fund (CRF), ( Launched January 2009), was a reaction to the global call for climate intervention research. The call to action came from the scientific community who warned that we must study climate intervention in order to understand the “in case of emergency” options might be relied upon if we hit a “climate emergency.”

What is a climate emergency? One such possibility could be a dramatic release of methane from the permafrost into our atmosphere. The result would be dramatic, effectively changing weather patterns, food growth patterns and even homeland options.

Climate intervention is not a desired option. Many impacts of climate intervention may be unsettling.  The unintended consequences are, of course, not foreseeable. The scientific community absolutely acknowledges these dangers; however, the scientific community also argues that we must be prepared for potential tipping points and that the only way to know whether any of these techniques could offset such tipping points is to study them.

Climate intervention was likened by one participant in the Asilomar Conference to chemotherapy: it is not desirable, but it may save the patient from a worse situation. The research will shine light on the field and help us to understand the issues.

The Climate Response Fund was created to ensure that, if and when this climate intervention research is done, it is done safely and responsibly.

THE EVOLUTION

Within the first months of CRF being founded, it became absolutely clear that world governments, research, funding organizations and significant individual donors were largely immobilized (not funding climate intervention research) because of concerns over risks associated with this research. It is clear that until these public and private organizations can point to an international scientific consensus on guiding principles for risk management, it is unlikely that funding will materialize, leaving a dangerous vacuum in knowledge of climate intervention and remediation tools.

Even more frightening was the fact that such guidelines do not currently exist for those around the world who are proceeding to study of these techniques.  This leaves us open to potential unintended consequences of the experiments without appropriate global consideration of safety standards. 

CONTINUED CALLS FOR GEOENGINEERING

In March 2009, Foreign Affairs published an article, “The Geoengineering Option” A Last Resort Against Global Warming? by David G. Victor, M. Granger Morgan, Jay Apt, John Steinbruner, and Katharine Ricke. The article highlighted several major points including:

1) The odds of reaching a real climate tipping point are increasing, 2) Serious research on climate intervention (or geoengineering) is still in its infancy, and it has not received the attention it deserves from politicians, and 3) The time has come to take it (climate intervention) seriously.

Furthermore, the article reflected precisely the philosophy and intent for the Asilomar International Conference On Climate Intervention Technologies:

“Although the international scientific community should take the lead in

developing a research agenda, social scientists, international lawyers,

and foreign policy experts will also have to play a role.

 Eventually, there will have to be international laws to ensure that

 globally credible and legitimate rules govern the deployment of

geoengineering systems. But effective legal norms cannot be imperiously

declared. They must be carefully developed by informed consensus

in order to avoid encouraging the rogue forms of geoengineering

they are intended to prevent.

The call for this conference came from other sources as well. In April 2009, President Obama’s Science Advisor, Dr. John Holdren, remarked to The Associated Press about climate intervention, “It’s got to be looked at. We don’t have the luxury of taking any approach off the table.” A Geoengineering Workshop at the US National Academy of Sciences took place in June of 2009.  This was a part of the Academy’s two-year study of ‘America’s Climate Choices’ for response to climate change. The workshop was tremendously successful and resulted in a clear consensus in support of climate intervention technology (geoengineering) research.

With these very compelling calls to action, CRF committed to take the leadership to implement the first global, collaborative, and fully integrated conference in the field of Climate Intervention Technologies (Geoengineering). This conference was the “Asilomar International Conference On Climate Intervention Technologies”.