February 28, 2007
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Published July 1988 through June 1999
FROM VOLUME 9, NUMBER 8, AUGUST 1996
Special Section. The following six papers, based on a symposium at the 1994
AAAS meeting, appear in Clim. Change, 33(3), July 1996, edited
by G. Marland. They cover scientific, legal, technical, political and ethical
"Could We/Should We Engineer the Earth's Climate?' G. Marland
(Environ. Sci Div., Oak Ridge Natl. Lab., Oak Ridge TN 37831), 275-278.
An introduction pointing out that the papers provide analysis, not advocacy,
and raise technical possibilities while emphasizing risks and posing ethical
concerns. These approaches are speculative, and relying on them now would be
irresponsible, given our current understanding of the climate system.
"Climate Engineering: A Review of Aerosol Approaches to Changing the
Global Energy Balance," R.E. Dickinson (Inst. Atmos. Phys., Univ. Arizona,
Tucson AZ 85721), 279-290.
Evaluates two approaches: employing aerosols in the stratosphere as direct
reflectors, and using them to "seed" clouds in the troposphere.
Estimates that at least 10 times more sulfate aerosol would be needed in the
troposphere as in the stratosphere for a comparable climatic effect. A better
understanding of the role of existing aerosols is a prerequisite for further
progress in the use of aerosols for climate engineering.
"Geoengineering: CouldOr ShouldWe Do It?" S.H.
Schneider (Dept. Biol. Sci., Stanford Univ., Stanford CA 94305), 291-302.
Schemes to modify large-scale environmental systems or to control climate
for a variety of purposes have been seriously proposed for over 50 years, and
are reviewed here from a historical perspective. Now schemes to modify climate
are being proposed as alternatives to conventional greenhouse warming mitigation
techniques. Proponents argue cost effectiveness, while opponents cite the
uncertainty of outcome, and question whether the many decades of international
political stability and cooperation needed to maintain such schemes would exist.
There is also a potential for transboundary conflicts should negative impacts
occur, since the victims could not be assured that the schemes were unrelated to
their damages. Nevertheless, given the potential for large inadvertent climatic
changes now being built into the Earth system, more systematic study of the
potential for geoengineering is probably needed.
"The Economic Diplomacy of Geoengineering," T.C. Schelling
(Sch. Public Affairs, Univ. Maryland, College Pk. MD 20742), 303-307.
Geoengineering schemes might immensely simplify greenhouse policy,
transforming it from an exceedingly complicated regulatory regime into a problem
of international cost sharing, a problem that we are familiar with.
Geoengineering projects can probably be accomplished by "exo-national"
programs, not depending on the behavior of populations, not requiring national
regulations or incentives, and not depending on universal participation. It will
involve merely deciding what to do, how much to do, and who is to pay for it.
"May We Engineer the Climate?" D. Bodansky (Sch. of Law, Univ.
Washington, 1100 NE Campus Parkway, Seattle WA 98105), 309-321.
Discusses the legal issues of climate engineering, which are as uncertain as
the scientific issues. The international community would likely demand a say
should climate engineering move from the realm of speculation to concrete
proposals. The experience of other environmental regimes, however, suggests that
developing an international decision-making mechanism would be difficult, and
that the international community might opt for a simple prohibition of climate
engineering on the grounds of "precaution."
"Ethics and Intentional Climate Change [ICC]," D. Jamieson
(Univ. Colorado, Boulder CO 80309), 323-336.
Assesses the ethical acceptability of ICC, based on the author's impressions
of the current discussion of the topic. As a way of stimulating further
discussion of ethical concerns, he proposes a set of conditions that must be
satisfied for an ICC project to be morally permissible, and concludes that these
conditions are now not satisfied. However, research on ICC should go on as long
as certain other conditions are met.
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