Carnegie Mellon's Granger Morgan to testify Geoengineeringing issues before Congressional Science Committee

March 17, 2010

In testimony to the U.S. House Science Committee, Carnegie Mellon University's M. Granger Morgan will discuss the urgent need to begin research on solar radiation management (SRM) methods, that might be used to cool the earth in the event of a climate emergency, by adding small reflecting particles into the stratosphere.

Morgan, head of Carnegie Mellon's Department of Engineering and Public Policy and a large National Science Foundation-supported center on climate decision making, will argue that while top priority should go to dramatically reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, the government should also "undertake a serious program of research on SRM via the NSF for a few million dollars per year.''

Morgan will say that neither the U.S. nor anyone else should actually engage in SRM. However, in the January edition of Nature, Morgan and his peers argue that the risks of not understanding whether and how well SRM might work, what it will cost, and what its intended and unintended consequences might be, are today greater than the risks such research might pose. The article also reported that an SRM-cooled world would make some areas of the world more protected from climate change, creating local winners and losers.

"More complex models should be developed, and linked to global climate models, field tests will be needed, such as generating and tracking small quantities of stratospheric aerosols to block sunlight,'' said Morgan. "We need to study this now, so if some nation were to do SRM to solve a local or regional climate problem, we could make informed arguments to stop them,'' Morgan argued. "We also need to have the technology as a back-up in the event the world suddenly faces a climate disaster.''

But Morgan is quick to caution that research on SRM should not be undertaken by the Department of Defense or the intelligence communities. "All SRM research should be open and transparent,'' said Morgan, who has worked on a range of technical and policy aspects of climate change for the past 30 years.

Once it is clear what sorts of field studies are needed, NASA and NOAA should also be involved in the research, according to Morgan.

When: Noon, Thursday, March 18.

Where: Rayburn Office Building, Room 2318, Washington, D.C.
About Carnegie Mellon: Carnegie Mellon ( is a private, internationally ranked research university with programs in areas ranging from science, technology and business, to public policy, the humanities and the fine arts. More than 11,000 students in the university's seven schools and colleges benefit from a small student-to-faculty ratio and an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions for real problems, interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation. A global university, Carnegie Mellon's main campus in the United States is in Pittsburgh, Pa. It has campuses in California's Silicon Valley and Qatar, and programs in Asia, Australia and Europe. The university is in the midst of a $1 billion fundraising campaign, titled "Inspire Innovation: The Campaign for Carnegie Mellon University," which aims to build its endowment, support faculty, students and innovative research, and enhance the physical campus with equipment and facility improvements.

Carnegie Mellon University

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