Archive for the ‘Geoengineering’ Category


Geoengineering Trials

September 9, 2011

It will be interesting to see how this geoengineering trial goes. This is for the so-called SPICE trial:

FIELD trials for experiments to engineer the climate have begun. Next month a team of UK researchers will hoist one end of a 1-kilometre-long hose aloft using a balloon, then attempt to pump water up it and spray it into the atmosphere.

Naturally this all worries me, for reasons that I’ve tried to articulate in papers and here on this blog. See, for instance this and this.


SRM Interviews

January 6, 2011

Here are a bunch of interviews from the Missoula Workshop on geoengineering. Obviously, dorky little me is also included:

  • Jason Blackstock, Center for International Governance Innovation
  • Ben Hale, Philosophy and Environmental Studies, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Nicole Hassoun, Department of Philosophy, Carnegie Mellon University
  • David Keith, Director, ISEEE Energy and Environmental Systems Group, Departments of Chemical and Petroleum Enginering and Economics, University of Calgary
  • Andrew Light, Center for American Progress and Philosophy, George Mason University
  • Jane Long, Co-chair, Task Force on Geoengineering and Climate Change (NCEP) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
  • Clark Miller, School of Politics and Global Studies and Associate Directory, School of Science, Policy and Outcomes, Arizona State University
  • Wendy Parker, Department of Philosophy, Ohio University
  • Phil Rasch, Laboratory Fellow, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • Alan Robock, Department of Environmental Sciences, Rutgers University
  • Petra Tschakert, Department of Geography, Pennsylvannia State University
  • Nancy Tuana, Director, Rock Ethics Institute, Pennsylvannia State University
  • Kyle Whyte, Department of Philosophy and American Indian Studies, Michigan State University

Alarmism, Alive and Well

October 28, 2010

This interesting youtube video appeared on the geoengineering group earlier this morning. It’s worth watching, particularly in conjunction with my commentary on the Missoula geoengineering meeting last week. In this video are David Keith, Alan Robock, and Phil Rasch, all of whom were at Missoula.


The Fantastic Dr. Hale and Dane Scott

October 20, 2010

I just gave my talk, which was fantastic, of course, because I’m  fantastic, but also very sleepy, and so I was less than fantastic, but only in that moment, and if you want to hear my talk you’ll have to wait for it to go through the long tortuous publication wringer, which it will, probably, some day, but only after I type it up and put it into narrative form.

Dane’s talking now about technological fixes. I need to decompress a bit so I won’t take fantastic notes on this, but the idea is pretty neat and Dane has put together a nice little overview of technological fixes.

UPDATE: Here are my slides.


Nicole Hassoun and Albert Borgmann

October 19, 2010

UPDATE 3:29: Borgmann now. He asks, “What are people thinking??” Uses the case of offering money for starving peoples.

UPDATE 3:18: Nicole‘s up.  She mentioned Colorado, because she thinks Montana is like Colorado, but not as cool. She’s talking about how some kinds of geoengineering are morally impermissible, specifically deploying Nature of Nature arguments. Artificial versus non-Artificial. She just did a funny little schtick with salmon pictures. Lots and lots of pretty pictures here. Thinking now, she’s got a similar stance to my own. Good on her. Except that, now, I see where she’s coming from a little better, now that I’ve asked my question.

Up on the screen she put several of her premises, one of which is “P1 Natural things and processes often have significant value.” And so I suppose I want to know where that value’s coming from, insofar as it will matter to her ultimate thesis (that there’s something wrong with acting without backward looking regard for nature).

So suppose that the reason that we have a problem with geoengineering is because we’re acting without regard for nature. This is the sort of thing, of course, that we do very often, and for some people, it’s not clear what’s wrong with this. The reason we do this is because there’s a sense in which nature doesn’t have interests (according to some people). My question isn’t whether or not nature does have interests, but what’s doing the justificatory work to get her to the point at which she can argue that there is something wrong with taking action without respect for nature?


Phil Rasch, Alan Robock, David Keith

October 19, 2010

UPDATE 2:58: I’m all flippertinibbet.

UPDATE 2:45: I just raised a somewhat elaborate question, which is a little hard to recapitulate given that it was extemporaneous, but I basically was suggesting, in response to a stance that Lauren Hartzell had taken with regard to the infancy of this conceptual discussion, that the role of philosophy in this discussion is to offer clarification with regard to the types of arguments that work, those that don’t work, and the extent to which these arguments can help decision-makers move forward. Andrew Light built on this point to say something about how this is done in other fields as well. Albert Borgmann is now building on this to integrate a somewhat Rawlsian position. Now Clark Miller is trying to say that we don’t have to start by rethinking these questions but instead can look at existing regulatory mechanisms. Nicole Hassoun said something pretty interesting, but more interesting was the observation that basically you need to get IRB approval to spray something on a person, but you don’t need to get IRB approval to spray something over their heads. Everyone wants to talk now. It’s like a fracking free-for-all here.

UPDATE 2:30: Alan Robock just said “nozzle testing” (he he). All three are talking about boundaries and when and where we can conduct research into geoengineering, but all I can think about is nozzle testing. He says now that one of his favorite principles is “Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right,” and now he’s said more stuff about how ethicists haven’t done a lot to answer this question so far at this meeting, which has suddenly gotten a few people raising their hands very aggressively.


Ashley Mercer, Wylie Carr, and Laurie Young

October 19, 2010

UPDATE 9:30: David Keith is doing science beside me. I’d copy down this wacky formula he’s writing in his free time, but there are too many symbols and I think I’d have to learn Latex in order to duplicate it. However, the take-home point is that he’s not paying attention, and I’m paying attention to him not paying attention, though he did just manage to ask a question and create the appearance that he’s paying attention. Very clever, David Keith.

UPDATE 8:54: Wylie‘s talking about what a fantastic tool social science can be. Laurie and Wylie don’t have a paper up because they’re from Montana, and Montanans roll like that. Social scientists don’t have many places to go for information or input on what people think about geoengineering. Basically he’s giving an overview of the Experiment Earth findings. They’re proposing something a little different. So they want to do some social science research into the attitudes and opinions of vulnerable populations, hopefully to make their positions accessible to researchers and deliberators so that eventually the work will be useful to those populations of researchers. Talking both about physical and social vulnerability. Looking at a range of questions regarding our current understanding of SRM, governance, justice, and equity questions, nature and technology, as well as how populations view risk and uncertainty, and questions about science and knowledge.

Laurie’s now speaking too, because she wants to solicit from the audience about what kinds of questions we’d like to see people give answers to. Planning to do interviews with representatives of vulnerable populations and with climate advocates. This will avoid conflicts resulting from lack of knowledge. Petra asked a question and used the term ‘narratives’. Kyle asked whether there are vulnerable populations as co-PIs. Naomi Klein is asking whether and how this information will be used.

UPDATE 8:40: Day two, Ashley Mercer‘s in the house, talking about epistemology and Hume. Better to read the paper, but here’s the upshot. Suppose she’s in conversation with engineers. Some are naive engineers, who just accept that it’s something that can be done. Some are wise engineers, who ask all sorts of kooky moral questions about what to do. Effectively, we’re not just creating knowledge, as some naive engineers might believe, but we should like to become wise engineers (clearly, because wise is good and good is wise), which will acknowledge that as we create knowledge we create normatively charged knowledge. Or something like that. I got caught being a White Paper administrator earlier in the session so I didn’t have a moment to type some stuff up on the events of the morning. Now Wylie’s talking.


Dana Milbank Weighs in on Geoengineering

October 18, 2010

Dana Milbank’s column from yesterday:

It’s time for policymakers to get serious about these and other “geoengineering” proposals to cool the Earth and remove excess carbon.

Yes, well, we’re talking about it right now.


Christopher Avery and David Keith

October 18, 2010

UPDATE 3:24: David Keith is on the scene. He says this is a new talk for him. I don’t believe him, but whatev. This is how the hotshots roll. He doesn’t provide an abstract, so you can rely on yours truly for notes. He’s telling a story now. You’re not missing anything.

Starting with a few comments. He’s an expert who thinks that he’s narrowly an expert, but it’s not clear to him that he has a lot to say that will contribute to this conversation. He’s just quoted Tom Watson and basically called him an idiot for ever suggesting that the world only needed five computers. Now he’s telling a story about a plane crash, and about how a pilot broke the tail off a plane by overreacting. The moral of the tale is that controls of airplanes should be sticky to keep everyone from freaking out.

We now have a political cartoon depicting coneheads and time machines. Hard to explain.

Speed: How quickly can SRM act? No good answer. It’d be great if it could act quickly… but it’s not clear if it can.

He’s looking at five knobs on our SRM climate engineering machine:

  1. Speed: there are dangers to having it act too fast (like a sticky tail rudder on an airplane).
  2. Localization: it would be nice if you could have local control of the climate. (I’m chilly, so I’m putting on my sweater.)
  3. Temporal Risk Profile: worst type of risk profile is like thalidomide
  4. Requirement for collective action
  5. Certainty of outcome
  6. Feasibility of counteraction (we’ve moved beyond five knobs somehow)
  7. Detectability and verifiability
  8. Techie knobs: spectral, zonal, direct/diffuse

Keith’s main concern is that once this comes into play, it’ll be used for whatever ends we want it to be used.

UPDATE 3:15: Christopher Avery is arguing that there already is a form of governance: intellectual property. Pretty interesting proposal. His argument proceeds by looking at a variety of cases in which there already have been several geoengineering patents. So he’s now asking how we can govern IP differently. Now he’s considering a different analog: atomic energy. Suggestions:

  1. Stop issuing broad patents. These stifle innovation.
  2. Create an interagency geoengineering tast force
  3. Add geoengineering to existing sensitive application warning system within PTO
  4. Offer non-patent based innovation incentives (like the X-prize)

The time to act is now. Geoengineering is at a crucial moment in its development. The time in which we can act, he says, is quickly passing. If geoengineering is a ship, IP is the rudder. Cute metaphor.


Stefan Shaefer and Mike Anderson

October 18, 2010

Update 2:27: Mike Anderson now. Wants us to see that governance is as big an issue as the science. Also have the full paper here.

Update 2:10: Stefan Schaefer is up now. Since his whole paper is up, you should read it instead of reading my crappy notes. Basically, he’s looking at input legitimacy, throughput legitimacy, and output legitimacy.