Weekly Geopolitical Report – The Geopolitics of Geoengineering (May 11, 2009)

by Bill O’Grady

Climate change has been a major issue for the past two decades.  An outgrowth of the environmental movement which began in the 1960s, there is growing concern that the atmospheric accumulation of greenhouse gases will lead to a catastrophic rise in temperatures and threaten human life on earth.  Thus, there have been steady streams of proposals designed to reduce the burning of fossil fuels which are primarily responsible for accumulation of greenhouse gases, mostly carbon dioxide (CO2).

We will not debate whether climate change (a) exists, and (b) is primarily caused by humans.  Although these are worthwhile questions, our stance over the two and one-half years we have written these reports is to focus on what is likely to happen, not what policymakers “should” do.  Because the preponderance of policymakers believes climate change is a threat, we assume that some policy changes in that direction are likely.

In this report, we will define geoengineering and examine the possibility that it will be used to combat the problem of climate change.  Although the generally accepted method of reducing carbon emissions is through “clean energy,” our perspective will be to discuss the economic and political costs of such a program which increases the attractiveness of geoengineering solutions.  We will also look at how geoengineering increases the possibility of a geopolitical “event.”  As always, we will conclude the discussion with a view of how it affects markets.

View the full report