Climate Engineering: Responsible Innovation or Reckless Folly?
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Responsible innovation has been a longstanding concern for the social sciences: dating back at least as far as the 1980s, since when a succession of technologies have been introduced with grandiose claims of life-changing benefits, only to founder in the face of under-performance and public scepticism. This paper asks whether the emerging and already controversial field of climate geoengineering will prove to be yet another chapter in this litany or whether it represents an opportunity to develop a framework for responsible innovation according to a model of guiding societal principles and technology-specific protocols. It concludes by noting that geoengineering is currently at a research impasse as technologists await a green light from social scientists before proceeding with research, while social scientists are limited to commenting on highly speculative ideas about how geoengineering might turn out in practice. Under these conditions, the values underlying debates about novel technology are unusually transparent.
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