Support us | Visit us | Contact us
Scientific discussion meeting organised by Professor Andy Ridgwell, Professor Chris Freeman and Professor Richard Lampitt
Society seems unable or unwilling to make the drastic reductions in CO2 emissions necessary to avoid 'dangerous' (unacceptable) climate change.
A new science 'Geoengineering' that until recently would have seemed pure science fiction, promises an alternative way of temporarily regaining control of climate. This meeting considers the state of this new science, and its implications to society.
Biographies of the organisers and speakers and recorded audio of the presentations are available below. The proceedings have been published in Philosophical Transactions A.
Professor Andy Ridgwell, University of BristolIntroduction
Andy Ridgwell is a Royal Society University Research Fellow at the University of Bristol. Although in practice spending most of his time tending to the every need of 6 cats, his research addresses fundamental questions surrounding the past and future controls on atmospheric CO2, and the nature of the relationship between CO2, climate, global biogeochemical cycles, and life. He is also closely involved in research into future ocean acidification impacts and the effectiveness (or otherwise) of geoengineering. His develops his own numerical analytical tools (`Earth system models´) to ask questions and test hypotheses regarding the functioning of the Earth system.
Professor Chris Freeman, Bangor UniversityTerrestrial carbon capture: a peatland case study
Chris Freeman is currently Professor of Peatland Biogeochemistry at Bangor University where he heads the Wolfson Peatland Carbon Capture Laboratory. He moved to Bangor in 1986, after gaining a part-time BSc at Nottingham Trent University. On gaining a PhD in Bangor, he went on to conduct postdoctoral research at the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology (now formally known as CEH) until 1994. He was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship that year, and held the Fellowship in Bangor. He has since been appointed as Lecturer (2002), Senior Lecturer (2003), and then Professor (2005) at that University. His research interests focus on the causes of the unusually high capacity of peatlands for carbon sequestration, and the role of that ecosystem in influencing climate change. Chris has been a contributing author to more than 90 refereed publications.
Professor Richard Lampitt Organiser
Peter Collins, Director, History of Science, Royal SocietyWelcome
Professor John Mitchell OBE FRS, MetOffice"Dangerous" climate change and geoengineering
John Mitchell gained a BSc and PhD, Theoretical Physics in from The Queen's University, Belfast. In 1978, took charge of the Climate Change group in what is now the MetOffice’s Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research. His main speciality is the climatic effects of increases in greenhouse gases and related pollutants. He was a lead author in the first three IPCC Working Group I reports. He is twice winner of the Norbert Gerbier-Mumm Prize (with colleagues) and received the EGU Hans Oeschger Medal in 2004.
He is a past Chief Scientist and Director of Climate Science at the MetOffice, where he is now currently the Principal Research Fellow. He is a visiting Professor Universities of Reading and Exeter and a Honorary Professor at the University of East Anglia.
Professor Andrew Watson FRS, University of East AngliaThe runaway greenhouse: the last great geoengineering challenge
Andrew Watson is a Royal Society Research Professor at the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, appointed to that position as part of the Royal Society's 350th anniversary. He researches the global carbon cycle, and the processes that ffect Earth's atmospheric carbon dioxide, both through earth history and on the modern, human-disturbed planet. He studied planetary atmospheres at the University of Michigan, before returning to the UK and working at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, where he developed tracer techniques that enabled large scale ocean experiments to study mixing, gas exchange, and the role of iron as a limiting nutrient. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, a member of NERC council, and recipient of the European Geophysical Union's Nansen medal for achievements in marine science.
Dr Carol Turley, Plymouth Marine LaboratoryOcean acidification: a powerful argument to reduce future CO2 emissions
Dr Carol Turley’s research has been centred on the ocean’s biogeochemical cycles looking at habitats from shallow and deep-seas, estuaries, frontal systems to large enclosed waters. She has ~100 peer reviewed publications. She was a member of The Royal Society working group on ocean acidification and was a lead author on the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 4th Assessment Report on Climate Change. Carol is the Knowledge Exchange Coordinator for the £12M UK Ocean Acidification Research Programme and is a member of other international ocean acidification programmes. She has contributed to several UNFCCC events, including the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP15) in Copenhagen in December 2009 and is a review editor for the 5th IPCC Assessment Report on Climate Change.
Professor Damon Matthews, Concordia UniversityCumulative carbon as a policy framweork for avoiding dangerous climate impacts
Dr. Damon Matthews is Associate Professor and University Research Fellow in the Department of Geography Planning and Environment at Concordia University. He obtained a B.Sc. in Environmental Science from Simon Fraser University in 1999, and a Ph.D. in Earth and Ocean Sciences from the University of Victoria in 2004. Prior to joining Concordia University in January 2007, he held a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Calgary, and worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the Carnegie Institution at Stanford. Dr. Matthews currently teaches courses on the climate system, climate change and environmental modelling at Concordia University. His research is aimed at better understanding the many possible interactions between human activities, natural ecosystems and future climate change, and contributing to the scientific knowledge base required to promote the development of sound national and international climate policy. Dr. Matthews holds several current research grants for projects to investigate the uncertainties associated with current terrestrial carbon sinks in the context of expected future climate changes. He has published a number of research papers in the area of global climate modelling, with particular emphasis on the role of the global carbon cycle in the climate system, estimating allowable emissions for climate stabilization, and understanding our commitment to long-term climate warming.
Session 1 Discussion
Professor John Shepherd CBE FRS, National Oceanography Centre, University of SouthamptonGeoengineering the climate: an overview and update
John Shepherd is a Professorial Research Fellow in Earth System Science in the School of Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton, UK. He is a physicist by training, and has worked on the transport of pollutants in the atmospheric boundary layer, the dispersion of tracers in the deep ocean, the assessment & control of radioactive waste disposal in the sea, on the assessment and management of marine fish stocks, and most recently on Earth System Modelling and climate change. His current research interests include the natural variability of the climate system on long time-scales, and the development of intermediate complexity models of the Earth climate system for the interpretation of the palaeo-climate record. He graduated (first degree and PhD) from the University of Cambridge. From 1989-1994 he was Deputy Director of the MAFF Fisheries Laboratory at Lowestoft, and the principal scientific adviser to the UK government on fisheries management. From 1994-1999 he was the first Director of the Southampton Oceanography Centre. He has extensive experience of international scientific assessments and advice in the controversial areas of fisheries management, radioactive waste disposal, and climate change, and has recently taken a particular interest in the interaction between science and public policy. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1999, participated in the Royal Society study on Ocean Acidification published in 2005, and chaired the study on Geoengineering the Climate published in 2009.
Dr Matthew Watson, University of BristolSolar radiation management through stratospheric particle injection
Matthew Watson has worked in Earth Observation for for fifteen years, using a range of ground- and satellite-based techniques targeted at emissions from active volcanism. He moved to the University of Bristol in 2004 from a research position at Michigan Technological University, following a PhD at Cambridge. He served the UK Govt. as part of SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) during the recent volcanic ash crisis. Dr. Watson is the principle investigator of the SPICE project, a recently funded EPSRC/NERC/STFC supported effort to investigate the possibility of deliberately injecting highly reflective material into the lower stratosphere to manage incoming solar radiation. Explosive volcanic emissions, such as those from Mt. Pinatubo, provide a benchmark for research into controlling climate.
Session 2, 1st Discussion
Professor John Latham, National Center for Atmospheric ResearchIncreasing cloud albedo
John Latham (DSc, University of Manchester, PhD University of London), who first proposed the Cloud Albedo Enhancement or Cloud Brightening geoengineering idea (Latham, Nature, 1990), is a Senior Research Associate at NCAR, Boulder, Colorado, and Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of Manchester. He was awarded the L F Richardson Prize (1965), the Hugh Robert Mill Medal (1972) and the Gaskell Memorial Medal (1994) by the Royal Meteorological Society and gave its Symons Memorial Lecture in 1979. He was for eight years President of the International Commission on Atmospheric Electricity. His research, largely in the fields of cloud and aerosol physics, atmospheric electricity and geoengineering, has yielded about 180 papers in the peer-reviewed open literature. He was for many years Head of Atmospheric Research at the University of Manchester, where the Latham Atmospheric Sciences Laboratories were inaugurated in 2008.
Dr Joy Singarayer, University of Bristol Cooling with crops
Joy Singarayer is a lecturer in climate modelling research at the University of Bristol. She has an MSci in physics from Imperial College and obtained her DPhil from Oxford University in 2003. Since then she has been based at the University of Bristol. Her main research involves the use and development of Earth System models to simulate past climate changes on time scales of decades to millennia in order to develop our understanding of the sensitivity of climate to natural and anthropogenic forcing. Related to this, her research has extended to geoengineering to mitigate climate change and, in particular, the potential for biogeoengineering. She is also interested in public communication of science, and has been involved as a consultant for the BBC and co-presenter on the 2009 Channel 4 series Man on Earth.
Session 2, 2nd Discussion
Professor David Keith, University of CalgaryCO2 capture from the air
Professor Keith has worked near the interface between climate science, energy technology and public policy for twenty years. His work in technology and policy assessment has centered on the capture and storage of CO2, the technology and implications of global climate engineering, the economics and climatic impacts of large-scale wind power and the prospects for hydrogen fuel. As a technologist, David has built a high-accuracy infrared spectrometer for NASA's ER-2 and developed new methods for reservoir engineering increase the safety of stored CO2. He now leads a team of engineers developing technology to capture of CO2 from ambient air at an industrial scale.
David took first prize in Canada's national physics prize exam, he won MIT's prize for excellence in experimental physics, was listed as one of TIME magazine's Heroes of the Environment 2009 and was named Environmental Scientist of the Year by Canadian Geographic in 2006. He spent most of his career in the United States at Harvard University and Carnegie Mellon University before returning to Canada in 2004 to lead a research group in energy and environmental systems at the University of Calgary.
David has served on numerous high-profile advisory panels such as the UK Royal Society's geoengineering study, the IPCC, and Canadian 'blue ribbon' panels and boards. David has addressed technical audiences with articles in Science and Nature, he has consulted for national governments, global industry leaders and international environmental groups, and has reached the public through venues such as the BBC, NPR, CNN and the editorial page of the New York Times.
Session 3, 1st Discussion
Tim Kruger, University of OxfordAn overview of proposed enhanced weathering methods
Tim Kruger is the Head of the Oxford Geoengineering Programme (OGP) at the Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford. The OGP seeks to assess the technical and social issues associated with all proposed geoengineering techniques. Prior to taking up this post, Tim undertook a detailed assessment of the concept of adding alkalinity to the ocean as a means of enhancing its capacity to act as a carbon sink and to counteract ocean acidification.
Dr Naomi Vaughan, University of East AngliaInteractions between geoengineering and emissions mitigation
Naomi Vaughan is a researcher at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia. She studied Geography at the University of Edinburgh and gained her PhD at the School of Environmental Sciences, UEA. The focus of her research is the relationships and interactions between geoengineering and climate change mitigation (the reduction of man-made CO2 emissions) over a multi-centennial timescale. She is the project manager for a major new EPRSC/NERC project, Integrated Assessment of Geoengineering Proposals (IAGP), which aims to construct and populate an assessment framework for geoengineering interventions, incorporating climate modelling and public and stakeholder engagement.
Session 3, 2nd Discussion
Dr Margaret Leinen, Climate Response FundGeoengineering: preparations and options for governance
Dr Margaret Leinen is Founder and CEO of the Climate Response Fund, a nonprofit organization promoting responsible discussion of issues associated with climate engineering research. Dr. Leinen is an ocean biogeochemist and paleoceanographer whose research includes study of ocean carbon sequestration. She was a professor and Dean of the Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island and served as Assistant Director for Geosciences, U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) from 2000-2007. Dr. Leinen was the Chief Science Officer of Climos between 2007 and 2009. She was the Vice Chair of the International Geosphere Biosphere Programme, Chair of the US Global Change Research Program and Vice Chair of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program. She has served as the President of The Oceanography Society, Chair of the AAAS Section on Atmospheric and Hydrospheric Science and was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the American Geophysical Union.
Professor Nicholas Pidgeon, Cardiff UniversityPublic perception of geoengineering- knowledge, risk and acceptability
Nick Pidgeon is Professor of Environmental Psychology at Cardiff University, where he directs the Understanding Risk Research Group. He currently holds a 3 year Economic and Social Research Council Professorial Climate Leader Fellowship. His research looks at the public acceptability of environmental risks, including the topics of nuclear power, climate change, nanotechnologies and geoengineering. He was a member of the Royal Society / Royal Academy of Engineering nanotechnology study group and a co-editor (with Roger Kasperson and Paul Slovic) of The Social Amplification of Risk, Cambridge University Press, 2003. He is co-author of a recent paper on the social and ethical challenges of geoengineering, appearing in the February 2010 issue of the journal Environment, and a principal investigator to the EPSRC/NERC project Integrated Assessment of Geoengineering Proposals (IAGP).
Session 4 Discussion
Jonathon Porritt, Forum for the Future, UKGeo-governance: assuring the future
Jonathon Porritt, Co-Founder of Forum for the Future, is an eminent writer, broadcaster and commentator on sustainable development. Established in 1996, Forum for the Future is now the UK’s leading sustainable development charity, with 70 staff and over 100 partner organisations, including some of the world’s leading companies.
In addition, he is Co-Director of The Prince of Wales's Business and Sustainability Programme which runs Seminars for senior executives around the world. He is a Non-Executive Director of Wessex Water, and of Willmott Dixon Holdings. He is a Trustee of the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy, and is involved in the work of many NGOs and charities as Patron, Chair or Special Adviser.
Jonathon’s involvement in the Green Movement started in the mid-1970s, when he joined the Green Party – he is still a member today. At that time, he was teaching English and Drama in a comprehensive school in West London, after being educated at Eton and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he studied French and German. He spent a lot of time travelling in those days, as the family was living in New Zealand between 1967 and 1973. His father was an eminent surgeon and athlete.
Jonathon became co-Chair of the Green Party in 1980, a position which he held until he took over as Director of Friends of the Earth in 1984. The next six years provided the foundation for the rest of Jonathon’s career, as they coincided with a huge surge in interest in environmental issues. In the years after that, he wrote a number of books (including ‘Save the Earth’, at the time of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, which sold more than a million copies) and fronted various television series.
Since then he has been Chairman of UNED-UK (1993-96); chairman of Sustainability South West, the South West Round Table for Sustainable Development (1999-2001); a Trustee of WWF UK (1991-2005), and a member of the Board of the South West Regional Development Agency (1999-2008).
In July 2000, he was appointed by Tony Blair as the first Chair of the UK Sustainable Development Commission, a position which he held for nine years. The SDC is the Government’s principal advisory body on all matters relating to sustainable development and acts simultaneously as the ‘watchdog’ of the Government’s performance – a role which led inevitably to some confrontational encounters with Government Ministers! He is still involved in a number of political initiatives today.
His latest books are Capitalism As If The World Matters (Earthscan, revised 2007), Globalism & Regionalism (Black Dog 2008) and Living Within Our Means (Forum for the Future 2009).
Jonathon received a CBE in January 2000 for services to environmental protection.
Professor Robert Watson, Department for Environment, Food & Rural AffairsPolitical dimension and perspectives
Professor Watson’s career has evolved from research scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory: California Institute of Technology, to a US Federal Government programs manager/director at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), to a scientific/policy advisor in the US Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), White House, to a scientific advisor, manager and chief scientist at the World Bank, to a Chair of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, the Director for Strategic Direction for the Tyndall centre, and Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. In parallel to his formal positions he has chaired, co-chaired or directed international scientific, technical and economic assessments of stratospheric ozone depletion, biodiversity/ecosystems (the GBA and MA), climate change (IPCC) and agricultural S&T (IAASTD). Professor Watson’s areas of expertise include managing and coordinating national and international environmental programmes, research programmes and assessments; establishing science and environmental policies - specifically advising governments and civil society on the policy implications of scientific information and policy options for action; and communicating scientific, technical and economic information to policymakers. During the last twenty years he has received numerous national and international awards recognising his contributions to science and the science-policy interface, including in 2003 - Honorary “Companion of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George” from the United Kingdom.
Future Directions and Panel Discussion Overview
Panel discussion 25 May
Public lecture 29 May
Enter your email address to receive updates about scientific meetings at the Royal Society
Full listing of our events and exhibitions.
Watch videos of past events.
Most of our talks are free and open to the public.
We host major conferences for leading scientists.
Explore our annual science exhibition
Contact the events team.