Scott, Geoengineering and Env. Ethics


1.      Geoengineering is the intentional manipulation of the climate system to counteract global climate change.

2.      Two sets of GE strategies

         a.      CO2 removal (CDR) to reduce further buildup of GHG (greenhouse gasses)

                   i.       Engineer artificial tree machines capture carbon from air and sequester it in abandoned oil and gas fields

                   ii.      Seed oceans with iron to create algal blooms that will pull out carbon

                   iii.     Enormous undertakings and expensive

         b.      Solar radiation management (SDR or SGE, for solar geoengineering)

                   i.       Cool earth by reflecting incoming solar radition (up high or near earth’s surface)

                            (1)    Inject sulfates into stratosphere

                            (2)    Brightening sea clouds: fleets of ships seeding clouds with tiny droplets of seawater to enhance reflective capacity

                   ii.      Cheap, fast, imperfect

3.      Two different questions

         a.      Should we GE?

         b.      Should we begin serious sustained research into GE?

                   i.       This is the issue under serious discussion now.



5.      Gardner’s arming the future argument as lesser of two evils (or Keith’s Plan B) (or Jamieson’s Colt 45)

         a.      So future can have alternative between catastrophic CC and geoengineering

6.      GE as a way to buy time so we can address the underlying problems

7.      GE might benefit nature, by minimizing human impacts on nature

         a.      One study: by 2050 15-37% of all land plants and animals driven extinct due to CC

         b.      Might it not be good to use GE to prevent this?

         c.      Note we lessen our impacts in terms of species extinction and increase our impacts in terms of controlling the planet

                   i.       Biodiversity versus naturalness


8.      Lynn White: Source of eco crisis is “colossal power created by merging science and technology” added to world view that humans have right to subdue earth.

         a.      Tech power is not essentially a benign and progressive force

         b.      Why isn’t the problem not with technology but with the world view that guides it?

9.      Drengson’s tech fix critique

         a.      Same tech approach used to solve a problem created the problem in first place

         b.      Repeated applications of ever more powerful tech fixes to ever increasing env problems

         c.      Need to get off tech treadmill

         d.      Kingsnorth “progress trap”

         e.      Solutions to env problems–like CC–not in more powerful techs (like geoengneering) but in moral and political changes

10.    “Habitual use of tech power to control nature is morally wrong”

         a.      Seems too general a critique; medicine is not morally wrong but it is a tech power to control nature.....

11.    Habitual use of tech fixes inexorably delays necessary moral reforms that allows for transition from unsustainable consumerist society to an env conscious, sustainable one.

12.    Tech fixes designed to fix defect in existing system, and thus conserve a system that should be abandoned.


13.    Jamieson: Successful GE could be worse for humans and environment than climate change

         a.      Even if GE was successful, it would have bad effect of reinforcing human arrogance and the view that the proper relation to nature is domination

         b.      How might successful GE effort might be more destructive to humans and env than CC?

14.    Problem GE will have winners and losers

         a.      Consequences of GE will vary; some benefitted and some harmed

         b.      Change climate, change precipitation, impact agriculture

         c.      How determine if successful nor not? Who gets to decide?

Questions on Scott, Geoengineering and Env. Ethics


1.      Define geoengineering (=GE). What are the two main sets of strategies for GE?

2.      Explain the argument that we owe it to future generations to do research into GE now. (“Arming the future,” “Plan B,”)

3.      Explain how the questions of whether we should do research into GE and whether or not we should deploy GE are related.

4.      Explain the argument that GE can benefit nature by reducing out impact on it.

5.      According to Lynn White, what are the two factors that have led to the ecological crisis?

6.      What is Drengson’s technological fix critique of GE?

7.      Explain the idea that technological fixes (like GE) prevent society from engaging in more fundamentally needed changes.

8.      Explain and evaluate Jamieson’s idea that successful GE might be worse for humans and the environment than climate change.

9.      Why is it a problem that GE might have winners and losers?