Geoengineering

What if someone just does it?

A scenario exercise on unauthorized use of solar geoengineering

Note: This post is co-authored with Jesse L. Reynolds, who recently completed an Emmett Institute Geoengineering Governance Fellowship As the climate crisis grows more urgent, unconventional technological responses are getting increased attention and controversy. We’ve written previously on Legal Planet about these technologies and their promise and risks. The most high-stakes and controversial of these …

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Earth System Interventions for Sustainability

Brand in 2020, via Cmichel67 at Wikimedia.

We actively shape major Earth systems, with increasingly powerful technologies. We should face up to it.

Stewart Brand–a contender for the most interesting living person in the world–famously opened the Whole Earth Catalogue in 1969, “We are as gods and might as well get good at it.” Importantly (and often misunderstood), he meant not that we are gods, but instead that technologies have given humanity powers that had previously been exclusive …

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The US National Academies on Solar Geoengineering Research and Governance

Reflecting Sunlight: Recommendations for Solar Geoengineering Research and Research Governance (2021) cover

Four Emmett Institute scholars react to an important new report

A few of us are part of the Emmett Institute’s Geoengineering Governance Project, where we study the legal and policy issues presented by solar geoengineering and carbon dioxide removal technologies. On the former set of technologies—that is, reflecting a little incoming sunlight to cool the Earth and temporarily counteract heating from greenhouse gases—the US National …

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Solar Geoengineering and Public Engagement Trolling

Illustration of the SCoPEx balloon and gondola

A first test of a long-planned outdoor solar geoengineering experiment has been delayed–again. Why?

It has been a busy week in solar geoengineering. Last week, the US National Academies released a report that offers recommendations for a research program and for governance of research. (A few of us will post our thoughts on the report here soon.) Here I discuss developments regarding outdoor solar geoengineering experiments, of which there have …

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The Kolbert Report

Elizabeth Kolbert’s new book asks what it means to protect nature in the Anthropocene.

Elizabeth Kolbert’s new book, Under a White Sky, opens with the story of the battle to keep invasive Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.  The problem exists because of two earlier interventions with nature.  A century ago, we reversed the flow of the Chicago river to keep the city’s pollutants out of Lake Michigan …

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The U.S. Government Is Researching Solar Geoengineering. Now What?

An image of the U.S. Capitol Building in the evening.

Officials should use the tools on hand to get governance right.

In December, Congress renewed funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to investigate stratospheric aerosols as a potential method for “solar climate interventions,” expanding a research program established a year earlier. These actions have been widely interpreted as the first-ever federal research project into solar geoengineering—proposals to slightly “dim the sun” to limit …

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“NIABYs” Obstruct Important Climate Change Research

Not in my backyard

Some activists say “not in my backyard,” but strident opponents of solar geoengineering argue “not in anyone’s backyard.”

A peculiar type of activism is manifesting with regard to solar geoengineering. This proposed set of technologies to reduce climate change has been subject to only a few outdoor experiments. One has been in the pipeline for almost a decade: The Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx) would involve the launch of a balloon into the …

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We Cannot Keep Global Warming within 1.5°C without Geoengineering

A new report from German green left groups heroically try do so, but fail

I emphasize the importance of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies and solar geoengineering research because keeping global warming within the internationally agreed-upon 2°C goal through reducing greenhouse gas emissions alone is extremely difficult, and limiting it to the 1.5°C aspirational target is now essentially impossible. All options to reduce climate change that are consistent with …

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The IPCC Misses the Mark on Solar Geoengineering

Cover of IPCC's special report on 1.5°C warming

The Intergovernmental Panel Climate Change poorly portrays the “institutional and social constraints to deployment related to governance”

Not long ago, I re-read the top-level messages from the Intergovernmental Panel Climate Change (IPCC) on solar geoengineering’s governance issues. The Summary for Policymakers of most recent broad report, Global Warming of 1.5°C (SR1.5), says, in full: Solar radiation modification (SRM) [i.e. solar geoengineering] measures are not included in any of the available assessed pathways. …

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Geoengineering: Ready for its Close-up?

After long being marginalized in climate debates, geoengineering is experiencing a surge in attention — which carries both opportunities and risks.

If you’re a long-time Legal Planet reader, you may have noticed that I weigh in once a year or so to say that geoengineering – active engineered response to global climate change – is going to get prominent, and intensely contentious, soon. Geoengineering? Before continuing, we need a brief aside about names. Even what to …

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