on geoengineering appears to have broad public support, as a new,
internationally-representative survey revealed that 72% of
respondents approved research into the climate-manipulating technique.
The study, published Oct. 24 in IOP Publishing’s journal Environmental Research Letters,
is the first international survey on public perception of
geoengineering and solar radiation management (SRM) and shows that these
terms are becoming increasingly embedded into public discourse.
awareness of geoengineering is remarkably broad. Eight per cent of the
sample were able to provide a correct definition of geoengineering, an
increase on previous estimates; however, 45% of the sample
correctly defined the alternative term “climate engineering”, adding
weight to the argument that “geoengineering” may be misleading and
difficult to understand.
18 question, internet-based survey was completed by 3,105 participants
from Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States at the end of
2010, and was designed to ascertain how widespread public knowledge of
geoengineering was and how the public actually perceived it.
David Keith of Harvard University said: “Some reports have suggested
that opposition to geoengineering is associated with environmentalists,
but our results do not support this view.
found that geoengineering divides people along unusual lines. Support
for geoengineering is spread across the political spectrum and is linked
to support for science concern about climate change.
strongest opposition comes from people who self-identify as politically
conservative, who are distrustful of government and other elite
institutions, and who doubt the very idea that there is a climate
is the process of deliberately manipulating the Earth’s climate to
counteract the effects of global warming, whilst SRM is a type of
geoengineering that seeks to reflect sunlight by various means to reduce
Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering (Spice)
project is a well-documented example of SRM that intends to release
sulphate-based particles into the troposphere in attempt to reflect the
light rays from the sun and reduce warming.
researchers, from the University of Calgary, Harvard University and
Simon Fraser University, publish their work at a critical time for Spice
as a test project scheduled to take place in the UK was recently
delayed by six months in order to explore and discuss the social aspects
associated with geoengineering.
global warming was not a key factor in determining an individual’s
support or opposition of SRM. The researchers hypothesised that seeing
climate change as an important issue, and its causes anthropogenic,
would be an obvious predictor of support.
Mercer, lead author of the study, said: “I think this is the first in
line of many studies that will show that SRM intersects with people’s
political and environmental attitudes in surprising ways.
“The results suggest that dialogue surrounding this topic needs to be broadened to include ideas of risk, values and trade-off.”