Author:James Fleming (Colby College)
Paper short abstract:
This presentation will examine new and emerging opportunities for STS scholars to gain historical, cultural, and technical perspectives on climate intervention order to develop informed, serious, and yet accessible critiques.
Paper long abstract:
As the alarm over global warming spreads, a radical idea is taking hold. A handful of so-called "geoengineers" thinks that voluntary compliance with emissions reductions is highly unlikely and that so-called "negative emissions" or more radical invasive techniques to cool the planet will be necessary. Geoengineering, however, is not really engineering. It consists of a basket of speculative proposals aimed at intervening in the atmosphere, the oceans, the biosphere, or even human behavior. The proposals lie at the outer fringes of scientific possibility, but are presented as if they were magic bullets or lifeboats for a sinking planet.
STS has, as yet, not developed full or very effective critiques. This presentation will examine new and emerging opportunities for STS scholars to gain historical, cultural, and technical perspectives on climate intervention order to develop informed, serious, and yet accessible critiques. It will preview themes that will appear in the sequel to my 2010 book, Fixing the Sky: The checkered history of weather and climate control.
The 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change aims to prevent "dangerous anthropogenic interference" with the climate system. It was inspired by international agreements seeking to limit the incremental carbon dioxide emissions of all the worlds' peoples, but it must also surely apply to the geoengineers. If there is no guarantee that planetary intervention will accomplish its goals or be sustainable, should we ever even consider doing it - whatever "it" turns out to be?
Open questions in STS and geoengineering