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The concept of geoengineering (or climate engineering, climate remediation, and climate intervention) refers to the deliberate large-scale engineering and manipulation of the planetary environment, often to combat or counteract anthropogenic changes in atmospheric chemistry.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded in 2007 that geoengineering options, such as ocean fertilization to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, remained largely unproven. It was judged that reliable cost estimates for geoengineering had not yet been published.
Geoengineering accompanies mitigation and adaptation to form a three-stranded ‘MAG’ approach to tackling global warming, notably advocated by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
Some geoengineering techniques are based on carbon dioxide removal (CDR). These techniques seek to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere directly. These include direct methods (e.g. carbon dioxide air capture) and indirect methods (e.g. ocean iron fertilization). These techniques can be regarded as mitigation of global warming.
Alternatively, solar radiation management techniques (SRM), ‘Reflective Approaches’ (RA), do not reduce greenhouse gas concentrations, and can only address the warming effects of carbon dioxide and other gases; they cannot address problems such as ocean acidification, which are expected as a result of rising carbon dioxide levels. Examples of proposed solar radiation management techniques include the production of stratospheric sulfur aerosols, which was suggested by Paul Crutzen, space mirrors, and cloud reflectivity enhancement. Most techniques have at least some side effects.