Climatic Change

, Volume 121, Issue 3, pp 553–565 | Cite as

Governing geoengineering research: why, when and how?

Article

Abstract

Research on geoengineering – deliberate management of the Earth’s climate system – is being increasingly discussed within the science and policy communities. While justified as necessary in order to expand the range of options available to policy makers in the future, geoengineering research has already engendered public controversy. Proposed projects have been protested or cancelled, and calls for a governance framework abound. In this paper, we consider the reasons why geoengineering research might be subject to additional governance and suggest mechanisms that might be usefully applied in developing such a framework. We consider criteria for governance as raised by a review of the growing literature on geoengineering and other controversial scientific topics. We suggest three families of concern that any governance research framework must respond to: the direct physical risks of the research; the transparency and responsibility in decision making for the research; and the larger societal meanings of the research. We review what mechanisms might be available to respond to these three families of concern, and consider how these might apply to geoengineering research.

References

  1. Anonymous (2010a) The Asilomar conference report. http://climateresponsefund.org/images/Conference/finalfinalreport.pdf Accessed 16 September 2012. pp 1–40
  2. Anonymous (2010b) The regulation of geoengineering, UK house of commons science and technology select committee on “the regulation of geoengineering.” http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/221/22102.htm . Accessed 16 September 2012
  3. Anonymous (2012) A charter for geoengineering. Nat 485:415Google Scholar
  4. Battisti D, Blackstock JJ, Caldeira K, Eardley DE, Katz JI, Keith DW, Koonin SE, Patrinos AAN, Schrag DP, Socolow RH (2009) Climate engineering responses to climate emergencies. IOP Conf Ser: Earth Environ Sci 6:452015. doi: 10.1088/1755-1307/6/5/452015 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Betts RA, Collins M, Hemming DL, Jones CD, Lowe JA, Sanderson MG (2011) When could global warming reach 4°C? Philos Trans R Soc A 369(1934):67–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bipartisan Policy Center (2011) Geoengineering: a national strategic plan for research on the potential effectiveness, feasibility, and consequences of climate remediation technologies. Bipartisan Policy Center, 33 pages. http://bipartisanpolicy.org/sites/default/files/BPC%20Climate%20Remediation%20Final%20Report.pdf. Accessed 19 September 2012
  7. Blackstock J, Long J (2010) The politics of geoengineering. Sci 327:527CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bodansky D (1996) May we engineer the climate? Clim Chang 33:309–321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bodansky D (2011) Governing climate engineering: scenarios for analysis. SSRN white paper. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1963397 Accessed 19 September 2012. pp 1–37
  10. Bulkeley H et al (2012) Governing climate change transnationally: assessing the evidence from a database of sixty initiatives. Environ Plan C: Gov Policy 30(4):591–612CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bunzl M (2009) Researching geoengineering: should not or could not? Environ Res Lett 4(4):045104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cicerone RJ (2006) Geoengineering: encouraging research and overseeing implementation. Clim Chang 77(3):221–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Corner A, Pidgeon N (2010) Geoengineering the Climate: the social and ethical implications. Environ 52(1):24–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Corner A, Pidgeon N, Parkhill K (2012) Perceptions of geoengineering: public attitudes, stakeholder perspectives, and the challenge of “upstream” engagement. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Clim Chang 3:451–466. doi: 10.1002/wcc.176 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Council on Environmental Quality (1978) Part 1508 – terminology and index (for the national environmental protection act). http://ceq.hss.doe.gov/nepa/regs/ceq/1508.htm. Accessed 11 September 2012
  16. Crutzen PJ (2006) Albedo enhancement by stratospheric sulfur injections: a contribution to resolve a policy dilemma? Clim Chang 77(3–4):211–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dietz T, Stern PC (eds) (2008) Public participation in environmental assessment and decision making. National Research Council. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12434#toc Accessed 13 September 2012
  18. Dilling L, Lemos MC (2011) Creating usable science: opportunities and constraints for climate knowledge use and their implications for science policy. Glob Environ Chang 21:680–689CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) (2012) SPICE project update. Available at: http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/newsevents/news/2012/Pages/spiceprojectupdate.aspx. Accessed 2 February 2013
  20. Fisher E (2007) Ethnographic invention: probing the capacity of laboratory decisions. NanoEthics 1(2):155–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fleming JR (2007) The climate engineers: playing god to save the planet. The Wilson Q, Spring 2007:46–60. http://www.agriculturedefensecoalition.org/sites/default/files/file/new_mexico_198/16YF_6_2007_The_Climate_Engineers_by_Fleming_Playing_God_to_Save_the_Planet_The_Wilson_Quarterly_2007.pdf . Accessed 19 September 2012
  22. Funtowicz SO, Ravetz JR (1993) Science for the post-normal age. Futures:1–17Google Scholar
  23. GAO (2010) Climate change: a coordinated strategy could focus federal geoengineering research and inform governance efforts. GAO Report 10–903. http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-903 . Accessed 19 September 2012
  24. Gardiner (2010) Is “arming the future” with geoengineering really the lesser evil? Some doubts about the ethics of intentionally manipulating the climate system. In: Gardiner SM, Caney S, Jamieson D, Shue H (eds) Climate ethics. Oxford University Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  25. Gibbons M (1999) Science’s new social contract with society. Nature 402:C81–C84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Guston DH (2008) Innovation policy: not just a jumbo shrimp. Nature 454(7207):940–941CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Guston DH, Sarewitz D (2002) Real-time technology assessment. Technol Soc 24:93–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hale B (2012) The world that would have been: Moral hazard arguments against geoengineering. In: Preston C (ed) Reflecting sunlight: The ethics of solar radiation management. Rowman and Littlefield, LanhamGoogle Scholar
  29. Hale B, Dilling L (2011) Geoengineering, ocean fertilization, and the problem of permissible pollution. Sci Technol Hum Value 36:190–212. doi: 10.1177/0162243910366150 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hamilton C (2011) Ethical anxieties about geoengineering: moral hazard, slippery slope and playing god. Paper presented to a conference of the Australian Academy of Science Canberra, 27 September 2011. http://www.clivehamilton.net.au/cms/media/ethical_anxieties_about_geoengineering.pdf Accessed 19 September 2012
  31. Humphreys D (2011) Smoke and mirrors: some reflections on the science and politics of geoengineering. J Environ Dev 20(2):99–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jamieson D (1996) Ethics and intentional climate change. Clim Chang 33:323–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Karinen R, Guston DH (2010) Toward anticipatory governance: the experience with nanotechnology. In: Kaiser M et al (eds) Governing future technologies. Sociology of the Sciences 217 Yearbook 27. Springer, New York, pp 217–232Google Scholar
  34. Keith DW (2000) Geoengineering the climate: history and prospect. Annu Rev Environ Resour 25:245–284Google Scholar
  35. Keith DW, Parson E, Morgan MG (2010) Research on global sunblock needed now. Nat 463:426–427CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Liu H, Priest S (2009) Understanding public support for stem cell research: media communication, interpersonal communication and trust in key actors. Public Underst Sci 18(6):704–718CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lovbrand E (2007) Pure science or policy involvement? Ambiguous boundary-work for Swedish carbon cycle science. Environ Sci Policy 10:39–47. doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2006.10.003 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. MacCracken MC (2009) Beyond Mitigation: Potential Options for Counter-Balancing the Climatic and Environmental Consequences of the Rising Concentrations of Greenhouse Gases. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 4938, 45 ppGoogle Scholar
  39. Marchetti C (1977) On geoengineering and the CO2 problem. Clim Chang 1:59–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. McCain L (2002) Informing technology policy decisions: the US human genome project’s ethical, legal, and social implications programs as a critical case. Technol Soc 24:111–132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Macnaghten P, Owen R (2011) Good governance for geoengineering. Nature 479:293CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. McNie E (2007) Reconciling the supply of scientific information with user demands: an analysis of the problem and review of the literature. Environ Sci Policy 10:17–38. doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2006.10.004 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mercer AM, Keith DW, Sharp JD (2011) Public understanding of solar radiation management. Environ Res Lett 6(4):044006. doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/6/4/044006 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Morrow DR, Kopp RE, Oppenheimer M (2009) Toward ethical norms and institutions for climate engineering research. Environ Res Lett 4(4):045106. doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/4/4/045106 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Parson EA, Keith DW (2013) End the deadlock on governance of geoengineering research. Science 339:1278–1279. doi: 10.1126/science.1232527 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Parthasarathy S (2010) Breaking the expertise barrier: understanding activist strategies in science and technology policy domains. Sci and Pub Pol 37:355–367. doi: 10.3152/030234210X501180
  47. Parthasarathy S, Rayburn L, Anderson M, Mannisto J, Maguire M, Najib D (2010) Geoengineering in the Arctic: defining the governance dilemma. STPP Working Paper 10–3. http://www.stpp.fordschool.umich.edu/policy-consultations/index.php . Accessed 19 September 2012
  48. Rayner S, Cantor R (1987) How fair is safe enough? The cultural approach to societal technology choice. Risk Anal 7:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Robock A, Bunzl M, Kravitz B, Stenchikov G (2010) A test for geoengineering? Science 327:530–531CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Roco MS, Bainbridge WS (2005) Societal implications of nanoscience and nanotechnology: maximizing human benefit. J Nanoparticle Res 7:1–13. doi: 10.1007/s11051-004-2336-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Sarewitz D (2010) Not by experts alone. Nat 466:688CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Slovic P (1987) Perception of risk. Science 236:280–285CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Solar Radiation Management Governance Initiative (SRMGI) (2011) Solar radiation management: the governance of research. http://www.srmgi.org/report/. Accessed 19 September 2012
  54. The Royal Society (2009) Geoengineering the climate: science, governance and uncertainty. The Royal Society: London. http://royalsociety.org/policy/publications/2009/geoengineering-climate/ Accessed 19 September 2012
  55. Victor DG, Morgan M, Apt J, Steinbruner J, Ricke K (2009) The geoengineering option. Foreign Aff 88(2):64–76Google Scholar
  56. Virgoe J (2009) International governance of a possible geoengineering intervention to combat climate change. Clim Chang 95:103–119. doi: 10.1007/s10584-008-9523-9 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Williamson P, Wallace DWR, Law CS, Boyd PW, Collos Y, Croot P, Denman K, Riebesell U, Takeda S, Vivian C (2012) Ocean fertilization for geoengineering: a review of effectiveness, environmental impacts and emerging governance. Process Saf Environ Prot 90:475–488. doi: 10.1016/j.psep.2012.10.007 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Wilsdon J, Willis R (2004) See-through science: why public engagement needs to move upstream. DEMOS, UK. http://www.demos.co.uk/publications/paddlingupstream. Accessed 19 September 2012
  59. Wilsdon J, Wynne B, Stilgoe J (2005) The public value of science: or how to ensure that science really matters. DEMOS: UK. http://www.demos.co.uk/publications/publicvalueofscience/. Accessed 19 September 2012

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Studies Program and Center for Science and Technology Policy Research, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental SciencesUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  2. 2.National Center for Atmospheric ResearchBoulderUSA

Personalised recommendations