Accepted Paper:

Diverging imaginations of climate engineering: how different scientific communities construct climate engineering promises  


Jeroen Oomen (Rachel Carson Center, LMU)

Paper short abstract:

Despite collaboration between actors in different climate engineering (CE) research communities, different scientific cultures, histories, and imaginations exist between these communities. This paper explores how different imaginations of CE lead to different narratives, promises and exclusions.

Paper long abstract:

In the development of climate engineering research, defined by the Royal Society (2009) as 'deliberate large-scale manipulation of the planetary environment to counteract anthropogenic climate change', much has been ascribed to, mostly western, historical perceptions of climate and climate change. These determinations of climate change have played a defining role in the development of climate engineering (CE). Mediating climate change by means of CE entails a specific, holistic view of the earth's climate systems, stemming from the historical developments in climate science as a numerical, model-based science. As a result, CE-research in general, and solar radiation management (SRM) in particular, is primarily engaged in research of quantified, whole-Earth solutions. These solutions take different shapes, and make different promises, in different scientific communities. Overarching narratives converge and diverge accordingly.

In recent years, Germany and the United States have emerged as the two most vibrant locations for climate engineering research. Despite intense collaboration between the actors in both geographical communities, different scientific cultures, histories, and imaginations exist between these communities. I compare the SPP-1689 project in Germany and the David Keith Group in the U.S. as exemplars of different CE research-cultures. Different imaginations of climate change and, in particular, future CE research and implementation in these research groups lead to the foregrounding of different scientific and political discourses, and cultivating different promises. In this paper, I outline these differences, what they imply for the construction of scientific questions, and how they construct different notions and framings of CE.

Panel C18
Open questions in STS and geoengineering