During a panel discussion at last week's Asilomar International Conference on Climate Intervention Technologies, Mashahiro Sugiyama, a researcher for Japan's Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry, stepped to the microphone to point out the obvious: Nearly everyone in the room was from the United States and the United Kingdom. There were no researchers from China, Russia, or Africa at the conference—and just one from India.
Afterward, Sugiyama stressed to me that while most climate-intervention research is being done in America and the UK, the Asilomar meeting was about more than science. The goal, he said, was to develop ground rules to help scientists navigate the legal, ethical, and political implications of proposed strategies to counter global warming—and to work with governments and global coalitions to regulate them appropriately.
According to David Keith, a researcher at the University of Calgary who has studied climate intervention for 20 years, long-term field tests are the only way to truly predict how spraying sulfur aerosols into the atmosphere—one proposed climate intervention—will affect global temperature, weather, and other factors. The tests themselves could lead to drought and dangerous weather patterns; entire communities could suffer, and people might well die. "You need input from other countries, and I do not see many here," Sugiyama said.