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Christian Science Monitor on the Ethics of Geoengineering

Today's Christian Science Monitor has a thoughtful article on the morality of geoengineering as an option for confronting climate disaster. It's a decent overview of the current thinking on the subject, although it doesn't mention a couple of topics I think are worth calling out, namely, the use of bioengineering as a way of boosting carbon uptake in the ecosystem, especially with regards to methane, and Richard Branson's Climate Challenge, which is the first blatant geoengineering competition. I also get a couple of quotes in the piece.

(I spoke with the article author, Moises Velasquez-Manoff, for over an hour; the two quotes he used represent a very small part of the conversation. I think I come across as a bit more of an advocate of geoengineering in the article than I really am, but by and large I think I'm represented reasonably well.)

The most interesting comment comes at the end, from Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution at Stanford University:

"You could imagine some kind of arms race of geoengineering, where one country is trying to cool the planet and another is trying to warm the planet."

That possibility is another reason why the development of geoengineering technologies is essentially inevitable. No nation that sees itself as a great power is going to be willing to risk having its climate and environment completely in the hands of another nation. Research into methodologies for geoengineering will happen simply out of self-preservation -- after all, nobody wants to fall victim to a "terraforming gap."

It's hardly a good reason to pursue geoengineering, but it's a powerful one, and further underscores the absolute need for people who see responsibility and precaution as paramount to be part of the conversation.


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