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The Asilomar International Conference


Climate Intervention Technologies

March 22-26, 2010

Asilomar Conference Center

Pacific Grove, California

About the Conference

The Climate Response Fund (www.climateresponsefund.org), in collaboration with the Climate Institute (www.climate.org), has developed this international conference to propose norms and guidelines for experimentation on climate engineering or intervention techniques.  The Conference has the overall goal of minimizing risk associated with scientific experimentation on climate intervention or climate geoengineering, and will focus exclusively on the development of risk reduction guidelines for climate intervention experiments. Download announcement.

Development and Design of the Conference

The Asilomar International Conference on Climate Intervention Technologies has been developed by the Climate Response Fund (CRF), under the leadership of Dr. Margaret Leinen.

Dr. Leinen is the CEO of the Climate Response Fund.  She is an internationally known oceanographer whose research focused on the role of the oceans in carbon cycling. She has a long record of academic, governmental, and commercial leadership before joining CRF.  She served as Dean of the Graduate School of Oceanography and Vice Provost at the University of Rhode Island; as Assistant Director for Geosciences at the US National Science Foundation; as Chair of the US Global Change Research Program and as Chief Scientist of Climos, Inc. before founding the CRF (web site url).  Dr. Leinen served as President of The Oceanography Society and Chair of the AAAS Section on Atmopsheric and Hydrospheric Sciences.  She is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Scientific planning for The Asilomar International Conference on Climate Intervention Technologies is being led by an international Scientific Organizing Committee, assembled by the Climate Institute  under the chairmanship of Dr. Michael MacCracken (The full roster of the Scientific Organizing Committee is presented below). The costs for this are covered by a grant from CRF to the Climate Institute.

Dr. MacCracken is the Chief Scientist for Climate Change Programs at the Climate Institute. His research has focused on understanding the causes of climate change: He served in leadership positions for the atmospheric and geophysical sciences at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) from 1968-1993.  From 1993-2002, he was detailed from LLNL to serve as Senior Scientist with the Office of the US Global Change Research Program, serving initially as its Executive Director and later in a similar position with the coordination office for the US National Assessment of the impacts of climate change.  Dr. MacCracken has served as President of the International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences (lAMAS), on the synthesis team for the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, as a reviewer and contributor to the IPCC Assessments, and now serves on the Executive Committee of the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research.  He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Paul Berg is the Honorary Chair of the Asilomar International Conference on Climate Intervention Technologies.  He was a co-convenor of the historic Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA Technologies, and has advised CRF and the Climate Institute on conference structure, processes for guideline development, and post-conference interactions with the science community.  Dr. Berg is a distinguished biochemist whose work on nucleic acids won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1980 and the US National Medal of Science in 1983.  He is known worldwide for the pivotal role he played in early research on recombinant DNA and for his leadership in establishing safety guidelines for recombinant DNA research.

Genesis of the Conference

We all have seen that the impacts of climate change are occurring more rapidly and more intensely than scientists projected just a few years ago. Substantial emissions reductions are going to be needed to stabilize atmospheric composition and avoid 'dangerous' human interference with the climate system, as called for by the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Events during 2009 have further brought attention to the issue.  Concerned about the pace of climate change, the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union have called for research into the scientific, technological, historical, ethical, legal, and social science aspects of geoengineering.  The UK's Royal Society urged the development of guidelines for such research.  Both the US and UK legislatures have held hearings on geoengineering.  In December 2010 the US National Academy of Sciences will release its two-year study of America's Climate Choices, which is also expected to call for research on geoengineering.

Clearly, the time has come to gather together to consider issues related to undertaking and conducting research into climate intervention techniques. We must understand how to do such research responsibly and safely, minimizing risk to the environment, while also ensuring that the research is being done under the proper approval of appropriate governing bodies. At Asilomar the participants will be addressing these issues.

Conference Model, Goals, and Objectives

Using the historic Asilomar conference on recombinant DNA as a model, an international panel of experts, brought together as the Scientific Organizing Committee (SOC), has been assembled to organize the Asilomar International Conference on Climate Intervention Technologies.

The goal of the Conference will be to propose strategies to minimize risk associated with scientific experimentation and research on approaches for climate intervention.

The specific objectives of the conference will be to:

  1. identify the potential risks associated with climate intervention experiments;
  2. formulate a structure and approach for assessing experiments for their potential categorical risks and suggest precautions necessary for the experiments; and
  3. develop and propose norms and guidelines for use by the international science community and those that provide funding for research.

The risk assessment and management guidelines for climate intervention experiments to be developed are intended to serve as an initial element of the governance mechanisms that will be essential before proceeding to climate engineering experimentation.

A "Provisional Statement of the Conference Proceedings" will be developed during the Conference and be discussed during the final session of the meeting. The SOC will be responsible for finalizing the statement and its recommendations to reflect the discussions and, in consultation with the participants, to develop a consensus statement on behalf of the Conference. The final report will be published and posted online and further distributed for consideration by national and international organizations in cooperation with the Conference sponsors, strategic partners and organizers.

The Scientific Organizing Committee

Dr. Michael MacCracken, Chief Scientist for Climate Change programs, Climate Institute, US (Chair)

Dr. Paul Crutzen, Max Planck Institute, Germany, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, US (corresponding member)

Dr. Scott Barrett, Lenfest Professor of Natural Resource Economics, Columbia University, US

Dr. Roger Barry, Director of the World Data Center for Glaciology and Distinguished Professor of Geography, University

of Colorado, US

Dr. Steven Hamburg, Chief Scientist, Environmental Defense Fund, US

Dr. Richard Lampitt, Senior Scientist, National Oceanography Center and Professor, University of Southampton, UK

Dr. Diana Liverman, Director of the Institute of the Environment and Professor of Geography and Regional Development, University of Arizona, US. Senior Fellow in the Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University, UK

Dr. Thomas Lovejoy, Heinz Center Biodiversity Chair at the Heinz Center for Science and the Environment, US

Dr. Gordon McBean, Professor, Departments of Geography and Political Science and Director of Policy Studies at the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, The University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.

Dr. John Shepherd, Professorial Research Fellow in Earth System Science, School of Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton, and Deputy Director (External Science Coordination) of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, UK

Mr. Stephen Seidel, Vice President for Policy Analysis and General Counsel at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, US

Dr. Richard Somerville, Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Research Professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, US

Dr. Tom M.L. Wigley, Professor, University of Adelaide, Australia and Senior Scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research, US