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Geoengineering as Collective Experimentation

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Abstract

Geoengineering is defined as the 'deliberate and large-scale intervention in the Earth's climatic system with the aim of reducing global warming'. The technological proposals for doing this are highly speculative. Research is at an early stage, but there is a strong consensus that technologies would, if realisable, have profound and surprising ramifications. Geoengineering would seem to be an archetype of technology as social experiment, blurring lines that separate research from deployment and scientific knowledge from technological artefacts. Looking into the experimental systems of geoengineering, we can see the negotiation of what is known and unknown. The paper argues that, in renegotiating such systems, we can approach a new mode of governance-collective experimentation. This has important ramifications not just for how we imagine future geoengineering technologies, but also for how we govern geoengineering experiments currently under discussion.
ORIGINAL PAPER
Geoengineering as Collective Experimentation
Jack Stilgoe
1
Received: 11 November 2014 / Accepted: 30 March 2015
The Author(s) 2015. This article is published with open access at Springerlink.com
Abstract Geoengineering is defined as the ‘deliberate and large-scale intervention
in the Earth’s climatic system with the aim of reducing global warming’. The
technological proposals for doing this are highly speculative. Research is at an early
stage, but there is a strong consensus that technologies would, if realisable, have
profound and surprising ramifications. Geoengineering would seem to be an arche-
type of technology as social experiment, blurring lines that separate research from
deployment and scientific knowledge from technological artefacts. Looking into the
experimental systems of geoengineering, we can see the negotiation of what is
known and unknown. The paper argues that, in renegotiating such systems, we can
approach a new mode of governance—collective experimentation. This has impor-
tant ramifications not just for how we imagine future geoengineering technologies,
but also for how we govern geoengineering experiments currently under discussion.
Keywords Geoengineering Climate engineering Governance Responsible
research and innovation Collective experimentation
Introduction
In September 2011, a proposed experiment was announced by a group of British
University scientists that, from one perspective, seemed mundane. The idea was to
float a tethered helium balloon a kilometre up in the sky with a hose attached. A
pump would deliver a few dozen litres of water to the top of the hose, where it
would emerge as a mist, evaporating before it hit the ground. At the time, there was
a strong consensus among the scientists involved, their universities and outside
& Jack Stilgoe
j.stilgoe@ucl.ac.uk
1
University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK
123
Sci Eng Ethics
DOI 10.1007/s11948-015-9646-0
observers that the experiment was not particularly risky, nor did it run against
established ethical protocols. The experiment, however, became a condensation
point for controversy because it was also, to use the researchers own words, ‘the
first field test of a geoengineering technology in the UK’ (see Stilgoe 2015 for a
fuller account). The experiment was part of a project called SPICE—Stratospheric
Particle Injection for Climate Engineering. In the end, the experiment never got off
the ground, figuratively or physically. Citing their own concerns about intellectual
property and the governance of geoengineering, the researchers called it off.
Nevertheless, the controversy generated provides an important entry point for
‘informal technology assessment’ (Rip 1987) of geoengineering as a social
experiment (Stilgoe et al. 2013).
Geoengineering (or climate engineering) encompasses a set of ideas for
technological fixes to global climate change. The range of proposals is large, but
in the main they concentrate either on removing carbon dioxide from the
atmosphere or on cutting the amount of sunlight that reaches the surface of the
Earth. The former category includes schemes to massively expand forests or seed
oceans in order to encourage algae, as well as machines for capturing carbon
directly from the air. The latter ranges from sunshades positioned in space between
the Earth and Sun to the whitening of roofs on buildings. Within this category of so-
called Solar Radiation Management, the idea of stratospheric particle injection—
creating a reflective haze in the Earth’s stratosphere—has attracted most attention
because early assessments suggest that it has the greatest potential to reduce
incoming sunlight while being (relatively) affordable. David Keith, currently the
world’s most prominent geoengineering researcher, opens his recent book—A case
for climate engineering—by claiming with some certainty that,
It is possible to cool the planet by injecting reflective particles of sulfuric acid
into the upper atmosphere where they would scatter a tiny fraction of
incoming sunlight back to space, creating a thin sunshade for the ground
beneath. To say that it’s ‘possible’ understates the case: it is cheap and
technically easy. (Keith 2013, p. ix)
As i will describe below, there are plenty of reasons to question the desirability of
geoengineering. David Keith would join the majority of scientists in the nascent
domain of geoengineering research who would doubt whether geoengineering was a
Good Idea, although most would not share Keith’s level of conviction. Proposals for
geoengineering, which began as an extension of cold war technocratic modernism
(see Fleming 2010), have, with their 21st century re-emergence, taken on a reflexive
flavour (cf Beck 1992). Nevertheless, geoengineering has, despite myriad uncer-
tainties about its doability and desirability, rapidly acquired a deterministic frame,
based on the assumption that it is ‘cheap’ and ‘easy’. Following the pattern of what
Joly and colleagues (2010) call the ‘economics of techno-scientific promises’,
geoengineering has been naturalised by its researchers, treated as a thing in the
world to be understood rather than a highly controversial, highly speculative set of
technological fix proposals.
In this paper, I argue that the governance debate surrounding geoengineering can
benefit from a view that starts with recognition of the social experimental nature of
J. Stilgoe
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emerging technologies. The field of geoengineering research is small but growing.
The uncertainties are vast and the likelihoods of predictability and control are tiny.
Geoengineering would, as currently imagined, seem to represent an archetypical
experimental technology. But we should not presume to know what geoengineering
technologies will look like, if they are indeed realised. It is therefore also important
to look at the experiments taking place within geoengineering research, experiments
in which future geoengineering technologies and imaginaries (Jasanoff, in press) are
being shaped. The emerging technology of geoengineering represents an
experimental system in which knowns and unknowns are negotiated, in public
discourse and in research projects. As with SPICE, the potential for reframing
experimental means and ends suggests the possibility of a new mode of governance,
one of collective experimentation, with implications for how we think about other
geoengineering research experiments.
Responsible Research and Innovation
The emergence of geoengineering as a research agenda and a ‘matter of concern’
(Latour 2004) has coincided with growing US and European interest in ‘responsible
research and innovation’, (RRI) ‘responsible innovation’ or the ‘responsible
development’ of new technologies. There has been some institutional uptake of
these terms, and possibly the ideas that they carry, within the European
Commission, the UK Research Councils and the National Science Foundation
respectively.
1
Although institutions may neglect, wilfully or otherwise, to mention
it, these terms have their roots in debates about the possibilities of broadening the
basis for technology assessment (Guston and Sarewitz 2002; Rip et al. 1995),
reinvigorating the politics of technology (Winner 1980) and aligning science and
innovation with social needs. While there have been substantial policy efforts in
some countries to ‘open up’ (Stirling 2008) public debates about emerging
technologies, these have typically been disconnected from any policy or scientific
response. RRI offers the possibility of shifting governance debates away from
problematising publics to focus on research and innovation themselves. (Pellizoni
2004) suggests that we should pay more attention to the limits to responsiveness. In
doing so, he reconnects debates about responsibility to an older discussion of the
social control of technology. David Collingridge (1980) described the dilemma of
control in these terms:
[A]ttempting to control a technology is difficult, and not rarely impossible,
because during its early stages, when it can be controlled, not enough can be
known about its harmful social consequences to warrant controlling its
1
See ‘Responsible Research and Innovation’, European Commission http://ec.europa.eu/programmes/
horizon2020/en/h2020-section/responsible-research-innovation, accessed 1 Nov 2014; ‘Framework for
responsible innovation, ESR, http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/research/framework/, accessed 1 Nov 2014; Na-
tional Science Foundation (2004) International Dialog on Responsible Research and Development of
Nanotechnology, http://www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/nano/activities/dialog.jsp, accessed 1 Nov 2014.
Geoengineering as Collective Experimentation
123
development; but by the time these consequences are apparent, control has
become costly and slow. (Collingridge 1980, p 19)
As Liebert and Schmidt (2010) point out, Collingridge is better remembered for
describing this dilemma than for his normative aim of finding ways to govern
despite it. Collingridge was interested in identifying and seeking to ameliorate ‘the
roots of inflexibility’ (Collingridge 1980, p. 45). We therefore need not be fatalistic,
not least because, as Liebert and Schmidt go on to conclude, technologies may not
be ‘controlled’ according to particular decisions in the light of particular knowledge
in the formal way that Collingridge seems at first to assume and then goes on to
himself critique. Technologies, as later constructivist studies would conclude, are as
much a result of unquestioned assumptions or implicit values (see Williams and
Edge (1996) for a summary). The attempt to govern despite the impossibility of
prediction has acquired the term ‘anticipatory governance’ (see Guston (2014) and
Nordmann (2014) for a recent discussion).
Nor should we see uncertainty and ignorance as essential and problematic
properties of technology. Uncertainty is constructed in scientific and innovative
practice and attempts are made to exert both technical and social control over its
bounds (Jasanoff and Wynne 1998). In public issues, uncertainties can be
coproduced and reproduced as public concerns are interpreted, legitimised or
rejected (Stilgoe 2007). As I will describe, the construction of experimental systems
therefore plays a crucial political role by giving meaning to particular uncertainties.
From his re-reading of the Green Revolution, Collingridge demands that we pay
closer attention to the contestation of problems to which technologies are offered as
solutions (see Morozov (2013) for a recent popular account of the similar dynamics
in what he calls the ‘solutionism’ of digital technologies). Discourses of responsible
research and innovation attempt, in the face of what are perceived as growing
pressures towards neoliberal science (Lave et al. 2010; Pellizoni and Ylo
¨
nen 2012),
to draw stronger links with global societal challenges (von Schomberg 2012). But
doing so introduces a profound question of democratisation. Technology, following
Winner (1977), is itself a powerful form of legislation. If problems are constructed
in order to serve particular solutions, rather than the other way around, then an
important task of responsible research and innovation should surely be one of
reflexivity on problem definition. Science and technology may themselves not hold
the single or best answer, and may crowd out alternative approaches of social
innovation.
What, then, does it mean to ‘care’ for the futures to which science and innovation
contribute (Groves 2014; Owen et al. 2013; Stilgoe 2015)? First, the idea of care
seems more satisfactory than ‘control’, the term used by Collingridge. Just as we
recognise that the unintended consequences of technology are not completely
predictable or controllable (Wynne 1988), so we should recognise that the
trajectories of technology cannot themselves be predicted and controlled (see
Stirling 2014). A care-ful approach is less likely to involve prohibition (Marchant
and Pope 2009) than what Kuhlmann and colleagues (2012) call ‘tentative
governance’, encompassing ‘provisional, flexible, revisable, dynamic and open
J. Stilgoe
123
approaches that include experimentation, learning, reflexivity, and reversibility’’.
This is, incidentally, close to David Collingridge’s prescription of ‘corrigibility’.
Scientists, innovators and others may argue that they are taking responsibility not
just through conventional mechanisms of research integrity but also by engaging in
what Alfred Nordmann (2007) has labelled ‘speculative ethics’. Certainly,
geoengineering research has seen more than its fair share of speculative ethics,
which, by asking what happens ‘if’ geoengineering futures are realised, contributes
to a narrative of inevitability (Stilgoe 2015). Speculative ethics has joined risk
assessment as part of an attempt to make techno-scientific promises of innovation
more explicitly ‘responsible’, but they risk closing down decision making rather
than opening it up to new possibilities. The dominant governance discourse tends
towards ‘containment’ (Jasanoff and Kim 2009) of not just risk and ethics, but also
of public debate. Peter-Paul Verbeek (2010) makes the case for reconnecting the
empirical and ethical strands of the philosophy of technology to move from a mode
of ‘technology assessment’ to one of ‘technology accompaniment’. In this latter
mode, the imaginaries of geoengineering, which embed particular understandings of
problems and solutions, can be adequately interrogated.
As I will argue, the impossibility of control in a scientific sense, let alone as a
public issue, would put geoengineering alongside technologies such as genetically
modified crops (Levidow and Carr 2007) and nuclear energy (Krohn and Weingart
1987), whose testing and deployment can be constructively seen as forms of social
experiment (Krohn and Weyer 1994). This line of academic study builds upon,
informs and is informed by a critical discourse about technology from commen-
tators and NGOs that uses the language of experimentation to argue that
technologies are less predictable, less well-understood and less controllable than
their proponents would have us believe. The political writer John Gray (2004)
expresses anguish that, ‘The world today is a vast unsupervised laboratory, in which
a multitude of experiments are simultaneously underway. Many of these
experiments are not recognised as such’.
Bonneuil and colleagues argue that we should not look to the inherent riskiness
of open-air experimentation but instead look to experiments as a site for the
contestation of the politics of emerging technologies. They describe how, in France,
field experiments with genetically modified crops were reframed through public
controversy. In the decade up to 1996, thousands of field experiments took place
without arousing wider interest. Over the next decade, these experiments became
the focus of a debate less about the health and environmental risks of a particular
technique than about the future economics and politics of agriculture. Experiments
that had previously been ‘entrenched’ as being routine scientific affairs, and
shielded from public view, were dramatically reinterpreted as incursions into the
social arena. Activists targeted and destroyed crop trials, justifying this as both a
means to an end (attracting public attention) and an end in itself (preventing what
they regarded as genetic contamination) (Bonneuil et al. 2008).
If we recognise the experimental nature of emerging technology from the start,
we can put questions of democracy back into governance, asking how scientists and
others should negotiate ‘the conditions for the performance of experiments in and on
society’ (Krohn and Weyer 1994, p. 181). The ethical questions expand beyond
Geoengineering as Collective Experimentation
123
consideration of the ethical ‘implications’ of technology to also include experimen-
tal care and ethics, which prompts consideration of who the participants are and the
extent of their informed consent. The democratic governance of innovation
therefore means asking what counts as legitimate experimentation (van de Poel
(this issue)), prompting experimenters to confront ‘the questions we should ask of
almost every human enterprise that intends to alter society: what is the purpose; who
will be hurt; who benefits; and how can we know?’ (Jasanoff 2003, p. 240).
Interpreting technologies as themselves experimental provides a powerful way to
reimagine the uncertainties and stakes of geoengineering research and explore the
politics of geoengineering experiments themselves. There is a risk that this
reframing nebulises the issues to the point of meaninglessness. I would argue that,
with reference to the history and philosophy of experimentation we instead gain a
new foothold on governance through close attention to the demarcation of what is
considered certain or uncertain and stable or unstable within experimental systems.
For Hans-Jorg Rheinberger (1997), ‘experimental systems’ are a site for
negotiation between the known and unknown. Experiments involve controlled
surprises: ‘Experimentation, as a machine for making the future, has to engender
unexpected events’ (ibid, pp.32–33). An experiment is made of two parts: the well-
understood ‘technical objects’, and the ‘epistemic things’, which are the subject of
inquiry. Following Rheinberger’s analysis, we can start to investigate the politics of
experimentation through analysis of the bounding of certainties and uncertainties.
We can ask, for example, what surprises are permitted in experimental systems and
how uncertainties are imagined, understood and controlled in the construction of
experiments.
Opening up the ‘Surprise Room’
Beneath the now well-established conclusion of Science and Technology Studies
(Nelkin 1979) that research in general expands rather than reduces the scope of
uncertainty, we can analyse the strategic construction of uncertainty as a central part
of scientific work (Wynne 1987). The notion of ‘surprise’ gives this work a harder
political edge. Scientists themselves are not uncomfortable with the idea of surprise.
The surprises that mark apparent ‘breakthroughs’ are central to scientific
mythology. It is notable, for example, that psychologist Walter Mischel (2014)
called his psychology laboratory at Stanford University’s cre
`
che the ‘surprise
room’. Gross (2010) makes the point that surprises, so integral to scientific novelty,
nevertheless lie beyond conventional, containable categories of risk and probability.
In this way, surprise is a useful lens on society’s relationship with scientific
uncertainty. The precautionary critique of technological risk assessment relates at
least in part to the inability of regulation to anticipate or deal with the unexpected.
The surprising nature of technological risk is often a function of previous wilful
ignorance as, for example, with asbestos, whose risks were anticipated, but ignored,
more than a century before they were effectively controlled (EEA 2001). Rather
than being concerned about surprises per se, therefore, constructivist analyses
J. Stilgoe
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should be interested in questions of who defines, prepares for and responds to
surprises, and how and why they do so.
Experiments play important performative, public and technological roles.
Habermas (quoted in Radder 2009) argues that experimentation turns science into
‘anticipated technology’. Experiments involve the ‘systematic production of
noveltymaking and displaying new worlds (Pickstone 2001, p. 13; 30). The
wider political importance of experimentation means that, when they take place in
public, they are typically displays of certainty rather than genuine surprise (Shapin
and Schaffer 1985; Collins 1988). As Collins puts it,
Where possible, experiments are still done in private because, the initiated
aside, confidence in ‘the facts’ will not survive a confrontation with Nature’s
recalcitrance. Only demonstrations or displays are gladly revealed for public
consumption. (Collins 1988, p. 727)
A focus on experimental systems allows a reconsideration of the politics of
geoengineering research. We can first reconsider, as others have begun to do, the
inevitable experimentality of any future geoengineering technologies. This enables
a focus on the contingency of technological promises that are currently offered as
stable and certain. On this descriptive basis, we can secondly engage more
normatively with the social aspects of ‘scientific’ experimentation. Seeing
geoengineering as itself an experimental system allows for new, constructive
insights into the governance of geoengineering experiments themselves.
Geoengineering as Planetary Experiment
The problem to which geoengineering purports to offer a solution—climate
change—has itself acquired a discourse of experimentalism. As scientific explana-
tions of anthropogenic global warming were developed over the 20th Century,
prominent scientific and political figures spoke of climate change as ‘a grand
experiment’ (Guy Stewart Callendar), ‘a large scale geophysical experiment’ (Roger
Revelle) or ‘a massive experiment with the system of this planet itself’ (Margaret
Thatcher), emphasising both the profundity and uncertainty of humanity’s
disruption to the climate system. For many climate scientists, the language of
experimentation was a justification for the urgent development of scientific
knowledge. Stephen Schneider argued in his book, Laboratory Earth, that ‘much of
what we do to the environment is an experiment with Planet Earth, whether we like
it or not’ (Schneider 1997, p. xiv). Schneider’s call-to-arms is issued to both
policymakers and scientists: ‘It is no longer acceptable simply to learn by doing.
When the laboratory is the Earth, we need to anticipate the outcome of our global-
scale experiments before we perform them’, (Schneider 1997, p.xii).
Some technological enthusiasts, such as Stewart Brand, have used the description
of climate change as a messy experiment as a rationale for controlled experimen-
tation through geoengineering (e.g. Brand 2010). Schneider, in the few years before
his death in 2010, took the opposite view, also shared by Al Gore (2009), who
argued that ‘We are already involved in a massive unplanned planetary
Geoengineering as Collective Experimentation
123
experiment We should not begin yet another’ (through geoengineering). Most
contemporary geoengineering researchers would agree that the scale of surprises
generated by doing geoengineering would be too profound to be currently tolerable,
although their views would vary on the global climate conditions that would make
such risks worth taking.
The recent renewal of enthusiasm for geoengineering is at least partly due to Paul
Crutzen, a Nobel Laureate atmospheric scientist who published a prominent paper
(Crutzen 2006) arguing that scientists and policymakers should cautiously
reconsider the idea of stratospheric particle injection, which had fallen out of
fashion as attention to climate change mitigation had grown. Following Crutzen’s
interjection, assessments of geoengineering proposals have sought to explore and
explain the possible implications and uncertainties of deployment. Alan Robock
(2008) provided an account of ‘20 reasons why geoengineering may be a bad idea’.
The possible side effects Robock identifies range from environmental (the effects on
local weather and continued acidification of oceans) and sociotechnical (the
potential for lock-in to bad and irreversible technological systems and the
impossibility of global consensus on the ideal temperature for the ‘global
thermostat’) to the economic (high, escalating and uncertain costs) and political
(the potential for militarisation of geoengineering technologies and the moral hazard
that this technological insurance would introduce into delicate negotiations on
mitigating climate change).
In 2008, the Royal Society began a study to respond to and inform the growing
debate on geoengineering. Defining geoengineering as the ‘deliberate and large-
scale intervention in the Earth’s climatic system with the aim of reducing global
warming’, their report drew on a wide range of expertise, including social science,
philosophy and law. As well as performing technical analyses of risk, cost,
feasibility and speed across a wide range of geoengineering proposals, the Society’s
report discussed questions of ethics and governance, noting that ‘The acceptability
of geoengineering will be determined as much by social, legal and political issues as
by scientific and technical factors’ (Royal Society 2009, p. ix). The uncertainties of
geoengineering were foregrounded in parts of the report while in other parts the
approach tends towards cost-benefit analysis. With explicit reference to Collin-
gridge’s dilemma of control, the report described the possibility of technological
lock-in contributing to shaping the future of geoengineering. Coming at a time when
researchers were beginning to conduct experiments with ocean iron fertilisation, the
Society was faced with calls to govern experimentation, particularly when
experiments crossed borders between jurisdictions or took place in international
waters (see Stilgoe 2015).
Although Robock’s assessment is broad, including ethical and political
considerations, his sense of geoengineering-as-experiment is largely a technical
one. He and colleagues (Robock et al. 2010) have argued that testing of
geoengineering would be impossible without its full-scale deployment, in part
because the signal of a response to any geoengineering would get lost in the noise of
a chaotic climate system. Other geoengineering researchers have countered that,
with careful scaling up and variation, the effects of geoengineering could be tested
at a less than planetary scale (see MacMynowski et al. 2011). Even if this were to be
J. Stilgoe
123
true, the absence of either a hermetically-sealed scalable laboratory or a control run
would blur any line drawn between research and deployment. Even without
knowing what the technologies of an eventual geoengineering system would look
like, sociologists of technology might agree that, as with the missiles studied by
Donald Mackenzie (1993), they would be impossible to test except through use.
Given the vast uncertainties within the climate system, any deployment of
geoengineering, even at full scale, would be necessarily experimental, if not
cybernetic (Jarvis and Leedal 2012). And when we consider whether these
experiments might be in any way publicly credible, we bring climate models and
their public contingencies into the apparatus too.
Further dimensions of the experimentality of geoengineering have been elucidated
by Macnaghten and Szerszynski (2013) and Hulme (2014). For Mike Hulme, the
experimentality of geoengineering relates to its outcomes being ‘unknown and
unknowable.’ (Hulme 2014, p. 92). Using public focus groups, Macnaghten and
Szerszynski (2013) explore the ‘social constitution’ of current geoengineering
proposals. They point to public scepticism about the predictability of geoengineering
and unearth profound public concerns that ‘pervasive experimentality will be part of
the new human condition’ (Macnaghten and Szerszynski 2013, p. 470). (An earlier
public dialogue exercise on geoengineering had been titled ‘Experiment Earth’
(Corner et al. 2011), reflecting similar concerns). Hulme (2014) joins Robock et al. in
claiming that ‘The only experimental method for adequately testing system-wide
response [to geoengineering] is to subject the planet itself to the treatment’. But
Hulme’s argument is that this would also be an existential experiment on the human
condition and humanity’s ability to govern. The geoengineered world Hulme
anticipates would be necessarily totalitarian. In a similar vein, Szerszynski et al.
(2013) have pointed to the potential for solar geoengineering to be incompatible with
democratic governance as we know it. (Rayner (2014) has critiqued this analysis of
geoengineering’s ‘social constitution’ on the grounds that it prematurely identifies
the essence of technology that remains hugely uncertain).
The few NGOs that have begun campaigning against geoengineering were quick to
adopt the language of experimentalism. One campaign, Hands Off Mother Earth
(HOME), has the slogan ‘Our home is not a laboratory’. It is tempting to read
geoengineering as the archetype of the whole world becoming a laboratory (Latour
1999), but this global view risks detachment from more immediate concerns.
Describing the experimentality of geoengineering should not be considered mere
speculation on implications (following Nordmann’s critique described above).
Instead, by considering the contested boundaries of experiments (Davies 2010), we
can engage with an emerging debate on the legitimacy of geoengineering experiments
that are currently proposed or underway within and outside laboratories.
Governing Geoengineering Experiments
The debate generated by the SPICE experiment reveals the politics of experimen-
tation in geoengineering—the things that are held to be certain, the things regarded
as uncertain and worthy of investigation and the things regarded as out-of-bounds.
Geoengineering as Collective Experimentation
123
The conventional story, relayed by the science press, scientists and science funders,
is that SPICE was a failure of governance and a failed experiment. Reading it as a
social experiment, we can see that SPICE reveals a huge amount about what is at
stake in geoengineering research.
Before SPICE, scientists had sought to establish a safe space for experimental
research and a means of containment for the spiralling social and ethical questions
that geoengineering had begun to generate. Following the publication of its report
on geoengineering, the Royal Society initiated a Solar Radiation Management
Governance Initiative that, among other things, became a forum for negotiation of
the Society’s recommended de minimis standard for regulation of research’ (Royal
Society 2009, p. xii). Although some geoengineering researchers were eager to
begin conducting experiments to elucidate the implications of geoengineering,
including experiments that would intentionally perturb the environment in order to
study it, SRMGI was unable to agree where or whether such a line should be drawn.
Around the same time, environmental experiments involving ocean iron fertilisation
and cloud aerosols seemed to encroach into the geoengineering issue but whose
motivations were either obfuscated or explicitly directed at conventional environ-
mental science (see Buck 2014; Russell 2012).
The cancellation of the SPICE experiment did not quell this discussion. Indeed, it
may have intensified scientists’ attempts to identify and cordon off an area of no
concern. Lawyer Edward Parson joined David Keith (2013) in arguing in Science
for experimental thresholds. Their suggestion was that, above a certain upper limit
(where there is a discernable effect on the environment), there should be a ban on
geoengineering experiments. They also suggested a lower limit, beneath which
experiments should be allowed to take place. Robock proposed an indoor/outdoor
divide (Robock 2012), based on the premise that indoor activities are ethically
justifiable while activities outside the laboratory demand additional scrutiny.
Victor and colleagues (2013) agree that ‘the key is to draw a sharp line between
studies that are small enough to avoid any noticeable or durable impact on the
climate or weather and those that are larger and, accordingly, carry larger risks’ (see
also Parson and Ernst 2013). A report from the US Congressional Research Service
talks of the need for a ‘threshold for oversight’ (Bracmort and Lattanzio 2013).
SPICE illustrates the trouble with such arguments. The reframing of the
experiment as at least partly social challenges the attempt to hermetically seal it
from public scrutiny. The SPICE scientists recognised this transition more vividly
than anyone. One put it like this:
People want to draw a bright line and say everything above it is legitimate
and everything below it is dangerous and requires governance. But that
[laughs] that attitude undermines everything that SPICE is trying to figure out,
everything that SPICE has been challenged to do in terms of looking towards
the far field, thinking about things like lock-in.
(Interview with SPICE scientist, quoted in Stilgoe 2015)
It is notable that the controversy generated by SPICE took place as much within the
scientific community as around it. The idea of outdoor experimentation had already
J. Stilgoe
123
raised concerns among climate scientists. Raymond Pierrehumbert, a prominent
climate scientist and critic of geoengineering, argued that,
The whole idea of geoengineering is so crazy and would lead to such bad
consequences, it really is pretty pointless. We already know enough about
sulfate albedo engineering to know it would put the world in a really
precarious state. Field experiments are really a dangerous step on the way to
deployment, and I have a lot of doubts what would actually be learned.
2
David Keith had already argued that, ‘Taking a few years to have some of the debate
happen is healthier than rushing ahead with an experiment. There are lots of
experiments you might do which would tell you lots and would themselves have
trivial environmental impact: but they have non-trivial implications’.
3
In a BBC
interview, he took issue with SPICE:
I personally never understood the point of that experiment. That experiment’s
sole goal is to find a technocratic way to make it a little cheaper to get
materials into the stratosphere. And the one problem we don’t have is that this
is too expensive. All the problems with SRM are about who controls it and
what the environmental risks are, not how much it costs. It’s already cheap. So
from my point of view, I thought that was a very misguided way to start
experimentation.
4
For Keith and other geoengineering researchers, an additional, thinly-disguised
concern was that negative reactions to SPICE would threaten subsequent research
and experimentation on geoengineering. The concern was not that SPICE
represented a perturbative experiment that fell on the wrong side of the various
thresholds under discussion—all agreed that the experiment was benign in terms of
its direct environmental impact—but rather that it challenged a dominant sense of
what was considered ‘well-ordered science (Kitcher 2003). SPICE was controver-
sial not just because it was a prominent open-air experiment in a highly contested
domain of technoscience, but also because it suggested an alternative demarcation
of certainties and uncertainties.
Scientists’ responses to the SPICE proposal point to competing framings of the
experimental system. Before SPICE, priority research questions for geoengineering
were overwhelmingly concerned with episteme (knowing that) rather than techne
(knowing how) (See Ryle 1971; Hansson 2014a, b). Hansson (2014b) has argued
that experiments can blend episteme and techne, which provides an additional layer
of explanation for the SPICE controversy. Scientists have, at least in the area of
Solar Radiation Management, been reticent to openly explore the engineering
constraints associated with creating a workable technology, instead reifying
technological proposals dating back to the 1970s (e.g. Budyko 1974) and asking
2
Quoted in Rotman, D. A Cheap and Easy Plan to Stop Global Warming, MIT Technology Review,
February 8, 2013. http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/511016/a-cheap-and-easy-plan-to-
stop-global-warming/, accessed 19 December 2013
3
Quoted in The Economist, Lift Off, 4 November 2010, http://www.economist.com/node/17414216,
accessed 19 December 2013.
4
Interviewed on BBC Hard Talk, BBC News Channel, 4:30AM Mon, 14 Nov 2011.
Geoengineering as Collective Experimentation
123
about the impacts of operationalising such ideas. SPICE brought engineers together
with climatologists and atmospheric chemists, which had the effect of reconstruct-
ing the uncertainties considered relevant. Things previously considered stable, such
as the cost and feasibility of stratospheric geoengineering, were treated as empirical
questions. In Rheinberger’s language, technical objects became epistemic things,
disrupting an implicit sense of the experimental system. The new possibilities of
surprise generated by SPICE challenged the deterministic story of geoengineering.
The public nature of the SPICE experiment, and the subsequent debate it
generated, created an opportunity for what Nerlich and Jaspal call ‘frame shifting’
(Nerlich and Jaspal 2012, p. 132). The initial assumption within the SPICE team
was that the public would be interested, in a positive sense, or that the experiment
could be a spur for a necessary debate on the ethics of geoengineering. Insofar as the
experiment itself was problematised, the imagined public were those people within
the immediate vicinity of the balloon who might bear witness to its launch. As the
controversy unfolded, it became clear to the scientists and engineers that a relevant
‘public’ would not be so easily bounded. If we presume that the ‘slippery slope’
from research to deployment is completely frictionless, the relevant public could, as
NGOs critical of SPICE implied, expand to encompass the world’s population.
The idea of ‘care’ implied by this reframing goes some way beyond the Royal
Society’s idea of ‘carefully planned and executed experiments’ (Royal Society
2009, p. ix), which would include ‘Small/medium scale research (e.g. pilot
experiments and field trials)’ (Royal Society 2009, p. 61). The Royal Society
recognised that ‘Just as field trials of genetically modified crops were disrupted by
some NGOs, it is foreseeable that similar actions might be aimed at geoengineering
experiments involving the deliberate release of sulphate or iron (for example) into
the air and oceans’. (Royal Society 2009, p. 15).
As a first step towards regulation, the Society argued for a international voluntary
code of conduct, adding that ‘only experiments with effects that would in aggregate
exceed some agreed minimum (de miminis) level would need to be subject to such
regulation’ (Royal Society 2009, p. 52) (see also Bellamy 2014). In emphasising
scientific self-governance and a scientific definition of contentious experimentation,
they offer, in effect, to ‘take care’ of this issue, on behalf of society. This is ‘care’ in
the paternalistic rather than democratic sense of the word.
Ralph Cicerone, who would go on to become president of the National Academy
of Sciences, the Royal Society’s US equivalent, had argued at the time of Crutzen’s
intervention that geoengineering research should be ‘considered separately from
actual implementation We should proceed as we would for any other scientific
problem, at least for theoretical and modeling studies’ (Cicerone 2006). But if we
are concerned with the sociotechnical imaginaries of geoengineering (Jasanoff and
Kim 2009), then public, open-air experimentation may not be uniquely problematic
especially if, as with SPICE, there is a consensus that such experimentation does not
pose direct risks. The experimentality of geoengineering, exacerbated by the
trajectory that its emergence and scale-up would follow, make problematic any
attempt to draw a line between research and deployment.
Solar geoengineering began as a set of thought experiments, substantially
inspired by the natural experiment of a massive volcanic eruption. Since the re-
J. Stilgoe
123
emergence as a topic of scientific research, there have been almost no substantial
solar geoengineering experiments taking place in the open environment, with the
ecosystem as part of the apparatus.
5
SPICE was notable in that it became an in foro
public experiment even in absence of an actual in situ trial taking place. However
there have been a number of in silico experiments on general circulation models of
the climate, whose results have informed the geoengineering debate. Ken Caldeira,
another leading geoengineering researcher, has described in magazine interviews
how he set out to demonstrate using computer models that geoengineering would be
an unremittingly bad approach to global warming, but that he was taken aback by
his own results. He told the New Yorker: ‘much to my surprise, it [geoengineering]
seemed to work and work well’ (Specter 2012). (It is notable that these experiments
with computer models are also experiments on the computer models (Schiaffonati,
this issue; Stilgoe 2015). Given the power of such experiments to shape the
promises and expectations of geoengineering, we might ask whether research inside
the lab, involving computer models should self-evidently be free from public
oversight or if there is a legitimate role for democratisation here too.
From Noun to Verb
In the short time since geoengineering was rehabilitated as a legitimate area of
scientific study, it has rapidly acquired a deterministic frame. Geoengineering has
become naturalised by the scientists, social scientists, philosophers and others who
have begun to focus on it. This has the effect of closing down governance
discussions and absolving scientists of responsibility for fashioning this nascent
sociotechnical imaginary. Imagining the potential for constructive governance of
geoengineering and geoengineering research requires challenging this frame. I have
suggested in this paper that focussing on the experimentality of geoengineering as
an emerging technology provides one way forward. Rather than presuming a regime
of technoscientific promises, I suggest instead that we rethink geoengineering within
a regime of collective experimentation (Joly et al. 2010).
The table below (Table 1) summarises what such a reframing would mean in
thought and practice. The first feature is a grammatical one. The regime of
technological promises tends to reify geoengineering as a technology that is, if not
already in the world, inevitable. This is an outcome of what Joly calls the
‘naturalisation of technological advance’ (Joly et al. 2010). Rather than treat the
word as a noun (a gerund to be more precise) we can instead read ‘geoengineering’
as a verb (a present participle). This shift from noun to verb turns geoengineering
from an object of governance (Owen 2014) to a work in progress, with all of the
attendant uncertainties and poorly-defined responsibilities of those—scientists,
engineers, philosophers, social scientists and others—implicated in the project.
The implications of this way of thinking can be seen if we consider new
proposals for geoengineering ‘field experiments’. Keith and colleagues (2014) have
5
The only possible exception might be the E-PEACE experiment, which tested cloud formation off the
pacific US coast in 2011, but this was not initially framed explicitly as a geoengineering test.
Geoengineering as Collective Experimentation
123
recently described a suite of imagined experiments with which to explore the risks
of further geoengineering research. Including the SPICE balloon experiment in their
list, they imagine tests ranging from what they call ‘process studies’ up to ‘climate
response’. Among these sits Keith’s own proposed SCoPEx experiment, which
would take place in the lower stratosphere in order to test possible effects of solar
geoengineering on stratospheric ozone. He has argued with colleagues that such
experiments are ‘a necessary complement to laboratory experiments if we are to
reliably and comprehensively quantify the reactions and dynamics defining the risks
and efficacy of SRM’ (Dykema et al. 2014).
Keith and colleagues (2014) emphasise that the SCoPEx experiment would,
along with most others in the list, generate negligible ‘radiative forcing’ (an
intended cooling effect on the climate). SCoPEx would have climatic effects that are
‘small compared with that of a single flight of a commercial transport aircraft’.
Table 1 Two governance regimes for geoengineering research
Regime of technoscientific
promises
Regime of collective experimentation
‘Geoengineering’ as noun as verb
Theory of technology Instrumentalism Substantivism/critical theory (see
Feenberg 1999)
Responsibilities of
researchers (including
social scientists,
philosophers etc.)
Assessment of technologies Implicated in realising futures
Role of social science (see
Macnaghten and
Szerszynski 2013)
Proposing implications Interrogating trajectories
Approach to uncertainty Uncertainties seen as soluble
through further research
Uncertainty seen as contested,
inevitable and expanding
Approach to ethics Speculative ethics and
technology assessment
‘Technology accompaniment’ (see
Verbeek 2010)
Characterising problems ‘Solutionism’, in which
problems are assumed rather
than explored
Reflexive approaches to problem
identification and definition
Construction of public
concerns
Technological development and
perturbative experimentation
Open-ended, but may include
imaginaries
Relationship between
research and use
Scientific research is divorced
from technological
deployment
Research and deployment are
entangled in the same social
experiment
View of scientific autonomy Negative liberty—Freedom
from. (The ‘right to research’
viewed in libertarian terms)
Positive liberty—Freedom to. (The
‘right to research’ viewed in
republican terms) (Brown and
Guston 2009)
Relevant uncertainties Implications of geoengineering Implications, costs, feasibility, design
Governing experiments Creating a ‘safe space’ for
research
Engaging with entanglements
Experimental systems Bounded by science Including publics, politics, ecosystems
and scientists themselves
J. Stilgoe
123
From their assessment, even larger ‘field experiments could be done with
perturbations to radiative forcing that are negligible in comparison to the natural
variability of climate at a global scale’ (Keith et al. 2014).
Taking geoengineering as a noun, one can see the rationale for such experiments,
and for a governance regime that seeks to delimit regulation according to whether
experiments are seen as posing direct climatic risks, at large scales and for extended
periods of time, as Keith and colleagues suggest. Within this frame, the inclination
is to bound the experimental system tightly, to reduce what what Keith and
colleagues (2014) call ‘spurious disagreements’. The underlying motivation is to
create a ‘safe space for research.
However, if we see geoengineering as a verb, under a regime of collective
experimentation, things become less straightforward. Rather than prioritising freedom
from experimental regulation, we might instead consider freedom in a positive sense, as
a social licence to experiment. In addition to evaluating likely experimental risks and
scales, we might also encourage scrutiny of experimental intentions and the imaginaries
that sit behind them. Once we understand, as the SPICE scientists themselves did, that
concerns with that experiment related to more than its direct risks, we can reframe other
proposed experiments. This is not to presume that such experiments should therefore
face additional governance from the top down. Indeed we would not wish those
involved in experimentation and innovation to anticipate every possible future, not
least because their activities are explicitly aiming to enable alternative and therefore
unpredictable futures. The aim should instead be to experiment with experimentation,
inviting further consideration of who should be involved in the definition and conduct
of experiments. In practice, this may mean that geoengineering field experiments adopt
the inter- and multi-disciplinary approaches that have started to take hold in other areas
of geoengineering research (Szerszynski and Galarraga 2013).
The ambivalence of scientists and the political uncertainties surrounding
geoengineering have meant that social scientists have been among those invited
into various novel experimental collaborations (cf Rabinow and Bennett 2012;
Stilgoe 2012). These interactions typically involve the renegotiation of what is
considered known and unknown as parties try to break out of the mould that is cast
for them by others. Perhaps the social scientists and others that have become part of
the apparatus of geoengineering research can contribute to the realisation of an
alternative vision, one of collective experimentation.
Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0
International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use,
distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original
author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were
made.
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... Experiments also constitute sites of public contestation, establishing parameters of de facto governance. Stilgoe (2016) describes the potential for research to give political meaning to particular uncertainties, noting the consensus in most geoengineering research to presume certain technologies, and to seek to establish their implications and public acceptability. Stilgoe instead recommends reframing geoengineering research as a space for collective experimentation with methods and approaches that facilitate its democratization. ...
... Moreover scientific objectivity is deeply problematic where the objects of research are socio-technical imaginaries whose material configurations are (in part) constructed by research. As Stilgoe (2016) argues, there is no "bright-line," and no domain in which research is pristine: "The reframing of the experiment as at least partly social challenges the attempt to hermetically seal it from public scrutiny" (2016, p. 860). ...
... At the same time support should be directed into much more trans-disciplinary, reflexive research on governance mechanisms and their roles in technological and political co-evolution. Research processes in geoengineering should be consistently used as sites for experimentation and contestation over governance, in processes of "collective experimentation" (Stilgoe, 2016) or "learning by doing" (Parker, 2014). Lessons could be learned from more developed efforts at meaningful engagement and co-production in other climate research areas (Klenk et al., 2015;Lemos et al., 2018). ...
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Research into solar geoengineering, far from being societally neutral, is already highly intertwined with its emerging politics. This review outlines ways in which research conditions or constructs solar geoengineering in diverse ways, including the forms of possible material technologies of solar geoengineering; the criteria and targets for their assessment; the scenarios in which they might be deployed; the publics which may support or oppose them; their political implications for other climate responses, and the international relations, governance mechanisms, and configurations of power that are presumed in order to regulate them. The review also examines proposals for governance of research, including suggested frameworks, principles, procedures, and institutions. It critically assesses these proposals, revealing their limitations given the context of the conditioning effects of current research. The review particularly highlights problems of the reproduction of Northern norms, instrumental approaches to public engagement, a weak embrace of precaution, and a persistent—but questionable—separation of research from deployment. It details complexities inherent in effective research governance which contribute to making the pursuit of solar geoengineering risky, controversial, and ethically contentious. In conclusion, it suggests a case for an explicit, reflexive research governance regime developed with international participation. It suggests that such a regime should encompass modeling and social science, as well as field experimentation, and must address not only technical and environmental, but also the emergent social and political, implications of research. This article is categorized under: Social Status of Climate Change Knowledge > Knowledge and Practice Policy and Governance > Multilevel and Transnational Climate Change Governance
... Firstly, RRI has seen initial applications in technical areas, such as synthetic biology [100,131], big data [132], climate engineering [133,134], and computing [135]. ...
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The growing number of papers on Responsible Innovation (RI) and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) have shaped the popularity and usefulness of RI and RRI as a technology governance concept. This study reviews and assesses the development of RRI research through a bibliometric analysis of 702 RRI-focused papers and 26,471 secondary references published in the Web of Science Core Collection database between 2006 and 2020. Firstly, the paper provides a broad outline of the field based on annual growth trends, journal distribution, and disciplinary distribution for RRI publications. Secondly, this study reveals the current state of RRI research by identifying influential literature, journals, authors, countries, and institutions. Thirdly, a phased keyword analysis is conducted to determine the stage characteristics of the RRI field. Finally, based on the bibliometric analyses, this study summarises the evolutionary trajectory of RRI and makes recommendations for future research directions. As a complement to the previous qualitative literature review, the paper provides a systematic and dynamic understanding of RRI research.
... The desired proof is in many cases closely tied to the notion of scientific experimentation and its appeal of objectivity -which are especially visible in living labs and RCTs. Our scalability snapshots fit well with a broader interest in laboratory practices and experimental knowledge beyond traditional laboratory settings (Engels et al., 2019;Laurent, 2017;Millo and Lezaun, 2006;Papageorgiou, 2017;Stilgoe, 2016). ...
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A fixation on 'scaling up' has captured current innovation discourses and, with it, political and economic life at large. Perhaps most visible in the rise of platform technologies, big data and concerns about a new era of monopolies, scalability thinking has also permeated public policy in the search for solutions to 'grand societal challenges', 'mission-oriented innovation' or transformations through experimental 'living labs'. In this paper, we explore this scalability zeitgeist as a key ordering logic of current initiatives in innovation and public policy. We are interested in how the explicit preoccupation with scalability reconfigures political and economic power by invading problem diagnoses and normative understandings of how society and social change function. The paper explores three empirical sites - platform technologies, living labs and experimental development economics - to analyze how scalability thinking is rationalized and operationalized. We suggest that social analysis of science and technology needs to come to terms with the 'politics of scaling' as a powerful corollary of the 'politics of technology', lest we accept the permanent absence from key sites where decisions about the future are made. We focus in on three constitutive elements of the politics of scaling: solutionism, experimentalism and future-oriented valuation. Our analysis seeks to expand our vocabulary for understanding and questioning current modes of innovation that increasingly value scaling as an end in itself, and to open up new spaces for alternative trajectories of social transformation.
... Both climate models and geoengineering (GE) models operate with known and unknown factors. However, Jack Stilgoe (2016) points to a significant difference, with his description of GE models as collective experimentation. Even more than with climate models, he argues, GE has so many unknown unknowns that it is a mere negotiation of 'what is known and unknown' (2016: 851). ...
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Possible trajectories of sustainability are based on different concepts of nature. The article starts out from three trajectories of sustainability (modernization, transformation and control) and reconstructs one characteristic practice for each path with its specific conceptions of nature. The notion that nature provides human societies with relevant ecosystem services is typical of the path of modernization. Nature is reified and monetarized here, with regard to its utility for human societies. Practices of transformation, in contrast, emphasize the intrinsic ethical value of nature. This becomes particularly apparent in discourses on the rights of nature, whose starting point can be found in Latin American indigenous discourses, among others. Control practices such as geoengineering are based on earth-systemic conceptions of nature, in which no distinction is made between natural and social systems. The aim is to control the earth system as a whole in order for human societies to remain viable. Practices of sustainability thus show different ontological understandings of nature (dualistic or monistic) on the one hand and (implicit) ethics and sacralizations (anthropocentric or biocentric) on the other. The three reconstructed natures/cultures have different ontological and ethical affinities and conflict with each other. They are linked to very different knowledge cultures and life-worlds, which answer very differently to the question of what is of value in a society and in nature and how these values ought to be protected.
... Although it is difficult to clearly distinguish implementation from research in this context, 29 and although the ethics assessments we make about geoengineering research can apply to its implementation and vice versa, 30 it remains fair to say that there has been relatively little discussion of the ethics of research on geoengineering strategies. 31 It is important to distinguish between three phases of research on these strategies: modeling, engineering, and climatic. ...
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We must resist thoroughly reframing climate change as a health issue. For human health-centric ethical frameworks omit dimensions of value that we must duly consider. We need a new, an environmental, research ethic, one that we can use to more completely and impartially evaluate proposed research on mitigation and adaptation strategies.
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Responsible Research and Innovation is promoted by research funders and scientific communities as a way to place societal needs and values at the centre of research and innovation. In practice, however, legal compliance still tends to dominate the RRI agenda. In order to move beyond the dominance of legal compliance and address a broader societal agenda, this article argues that RRI requires: (1) a productive intertwining of research and practice; (2) the integration of anticipation, reflection, engagement, and action (AREA) in a non-linear process; and (3) an experimental approach. Based on this framework, this article draws on our experience of developing and institutionalizing an RRI-inspired approach to address dual-use and misuse issues in the EU-funded Human Brain Project. Our experience suggests that the four dimensions of the AREA framework work better not as separate stages but rather being flexibly intertwined to enable experimentation, learning, and dialogue.
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Today, industrial-scale mining is a high-tech activity that transforms places and regions by creating massive technological infrastructures. “The public” and its relationship with this industry are seen as increasingly relevant for mining projects; however, the role technologies play in this regard is as yet under-researched. In this article, we use an example from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research program to examine how technoscientific actors build relationships with the public in the context of mining technology development. More precisely, we reveal how the public is conceptualized by technology developers and how such conceptions come into play in technology development projects. We argue that a central aspect of this is the assumption that certain characteristics of the public are variable or stable. While characteristics perceived as stable tend to lead to an adjustment of the technology to suit the attitudes of an imagined public, characteristics perceived as variable cause no technological modifications but do influence the selection of communication strategies.
Chapter
While emphasizing on the essentiality of tackling adverse impacts of the ongoing process of climate change, the chapter specifically focuses on the pros and cons of mitigation and adaptation measures along with exploring the scope of geoengineering for dealing with climate change. Taking note of the growing emphasis on nature-based solutions, adoption of ecosystem-based adaptation approach is suggested to cope with the problem of climate change as a viable and feasible solution.
Article
Calls for research on climate engineering have increased in the last two decades, but there remains widespread agreement that many climate engineering technologies (in particular, forms involving global solar radiation management) present significant ethical risks and require careful governance. However, proponents of research argue, ethical restrictions on climate engineering research should not be imposed in early-stage work like in silico modeling studies. Such studies, it is argued, do not pose risks to the public, and the knowledge gained from them is necessary for assessing the risks and benefits of climate engineering technologies. I argue that this position, which I call the “broad research-first” stance, cannot be maintained in light of the entrance of nonepistemic values in climate modeling. I analyze the roles that can be played by nonepistemic political and ethical values in the design, tuning, and interpretation of climate models. Then, I argue that, in the context of early-stage climate engineering research, the embeddedness of values will lead to value judgments that could harm stakeholder groups or impose researcher values on non-consenting populations. I conclude by calling for more robust reflection on the ethics and governance of early-stage climate engineering research.
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This chapter offers a concise summary of the current state of Climate Engineering, introducing these emerging technologies as existing, to a large degree, so far only in the minds of people and the calculations for climate models. As well as outlining the ideas on which these approaches are based which date back decades, in some cases centuries, the chapter outlines the currently few political discussions of CE at the margins of climate policy. Kreuter discusses this peculiar state of affairs and explores the relevance of social construction in this context based on the state of the art of social science analysis of CE.
Book
What should be the goal of science in a democratic society? Some say, to attain the truth; others deny the possibility (or even the intelligibility) of truth‐seeking. Science, Truth, and Democracy attempts to provide a different answer. It is possible to make sense of the notion of truth, and to understand truth as correspondence to a mind‐independent world. Yet science could not hope to find the whole truth about that world. Scientific inquiry must necessarily be selective, focusing on the aspects of nature that are deemed most important. Yet how should that judgement be made? The book's answer is that the search for truth should be combined with a respect for democracy. The scientific research that should strike us as significant would address the questions singled out as most important in an informed deliberation among parties committed to each others’ well‐being. The book develops this perspective as an ideal of ‘well‐ordered science’, relating this ideal both to past efforts at science policy and to the possibility that finding the truth may not always be what we want. It concludes with a chapter on the responsibilities of scientists.
Book
Experiments in geoengineering - intentionally manipulating the Earth's climate to reduce global warming - have become the focus of a vital debate about responsible science and innovation. Drawing on three years of sociological research working with scientists on one of the world's first major geoengineering projects, this book examines the politics of experimentation. Geoengineering provides a test case for rethinking the responsibilities of scientists and asking how science can take better care of the futures that it helps bring about. This book gives students, researchers and the general reader interested in the place of science in contemporary society a compelling framework for future thinking and discussion.
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Systematic experimentation is usually conceived as a practice that began with science, but this assumption does not seem to be correct. Historical evidence gives us strong reasons to believe that the first experiments were not scientific, but instead directly action-guiding technological experiments. Such experiments still have a major role for instance in technology and agriculture and (in the form of clinical trials) in medicine. The historical background of such experiments is tracked down, and their philosophical significance is discussed. Directly action-guiding experiments have a strong and immediate justification and are much less theory-dependent than other (scientific) experiments. However, the safeguards needed to avoid mistakes in the execution and interpretation of experiments are essentially the same for the two types of experiments. Several of these safeguards are parts of the heritage from technological experiments that science has taken over.
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Carbon dioxide emissions are rising so fast that some scientists are seriously considering putting Earth on life support as a last resort. But is this cure worse than the disease?
Book
Science and innovation have the power to transform our lives and the world we live in - for better or worse - in ways that often transcend borders and generations: from the innovation of complex financial products that played such an important role in the recent financial crisis to current proposals to intentionally engineer our Earth's climate. The promise of science and innovation brings with it ethical dilemmas and impacts which are often uncertain and unpredictable: it is often only once these have emerged that we feel able to control them. How do we undertake science and innovation responsibly under such conditions, towards not only socially acceptable, but socially desirable goals and in a way that is democratic, equitable and sustainable? Responsible innovation challenges us all to think about our responsibilities for the future, as scientists, innovators and citizens, and to act upon these. This book begins with a description of the current landscape of innovation and in subsequent chapters offers perspectives on the emerging concept of responsible innovation and its historical foundations, including key elements of a responsible innovation approach and examples of practical implementation. Written in a constructive and accessible way, Responsible Innovation includes chapters on: Innovation and its management in the 21st century. A vision and framework for responsible innovation. Concepts of future-oriented responsibility as an underpinning philosophy. Values - sensitive design. Key themes of anticipation, reflection, deliberation and responsiveness. Multi - level governance and regulation. Perspectives on responsible innovation in finance, ICT, geoengineering and nanotechnology. Essentially multidisciplinary in nature, this landmark text combines research from the fields of science and technology studies, philosophy, innovation governance, business studies and beyond to address the question, "How do we ensure the responsible emergence of science and innovation in society?".