I have a few posts on geoengineering lately (Hamilton’s new book, Earthmasters, an upcoming workshop, and on competing views). I thought I would add this recent essay to the mix on 20 reasons geoengineering may be a bad idea [PDF]. An interesting aspect of the essay is an inserted text box on the ethics of geoengineering.
This normative dimension was of interest to me because I’m finalizing my latest book chapter this week on the topic of ethics, governance and geoengineering in the Anthropocene. It will be out next year and I’ll have more details then.
Approaching geoengineering from within the Anthropocene requires considering the broader view of the world that legitimated (I would argued that required is more accurate) a wealthy minority of humans taking such a disproportionate and large share of the earth’s life support systems. It also requires confronting the idea of Nature held in that troublesome view. On this, Ursula Heise has a new essay on that thing formerly known as Nature. You can read it here.
Here are the first two paragraphs:
Encounters with the Thing Formerly Known as Nature
September 9, 2013 — We used to call it nature: forests, lakes, foxes, butterflies, mosquitoes, dandelions. Soils and oceans. Seasonal cycles. Also floods and heat waves and the occasional hurricane. But no more: as Bill McKibben, the environmental writer and activist founder of 350.org, put it back in 1989, climate change implies the end of nature. Nature, McKibben argued, meant a realm separate from human agency, at least for the modern American society of the last two centuries. Anthropogenic climate change, by transforming even places where no human has yet set foot, even atmospheric processes and ocean depths, leaves no particle of the planet untouched and therefore puts it all under the sway of human action. Nature as we used to know it, as the other of human society, is no more.
The idea that true nature is only what has not been touched by humans has since come under serious attack as a distinctively American environmentalist bias. It has little traction in developing countries, where environmentalism often means local communities defending their own uses of nature, or in Europe, where untouched nature has been a scarce commodity for centuries. But the idea that humankind now faces a new and fundamentally changed natural world took shape in 2000, when the atmospheric scientist Paul Crutzen and the ecologist Eugene Stoermer proposed the notion of the “Anthropocene,” a new geological era distinct from the Holocene. Humans’ impact on the planet is now so pervasive that it will be visible even in the Earth’s geological strata, Crutzen and Stoermer suggested, and this justifies thinking of our time as a new and different planetary age.” READ MORE HERE