This technology could alter the entire planet. These groups want every nation to have a say.
But critics of geoengineering research argue that whatever the stated goals, such efforts legitimize the development and eventual use of climate intervention that they say is too risky to even consider. Among other concerns, it can never be governed fairly and equitably given global power imbalances, says Jennie Stephens, professor of sustainability science and policy at Northeastern University.
There’s been “a very strategic effort to incorporate that, and it’s effective,” she says. “It has become increasingly legitimized as a potential option in the future, and building knowledge networks around this topic expands this lobbying effort as far as I can tell.”
A moral obligation
Climate change will take the heaviest toll on the hottest, poorest regions of the world, as higher temperatures in these regions threaten to push conditions beyond what is sustainable for crops or safe for people. humans and animals. These regions also often lack the resources to counter the dangers of extreme heat waves, rising sea levels, droughts, floods, etc. through climate adaptation measures such as desalination plants, dykes or even air conditioners.
For some proponents of geoengineering research, the fact that climate hazards caused primarily by emissions in rich countries fall heavily on poor countries creates a “moral obligation” to at least explore this possibility.
Opponents, however, argue that studying these technologies eases the pressure to tackle the biggest driver of climate change: the extraction and burning of fossil fuels. This, in turn, threatens to further concentrate global economic power and perpetuate inequality, injustice and exploitation between poor and rich countries, argued Stephens and Kevin Surprise, senior lecturer at Mount Holyoke College, in an article from 2020.
But in any case, northern scholars, activists and environmentalists too often settle for pronouncing themselves to the interests of huge heterogeneous parts of the world and fail to engage meaningfully with researchers, non-profit organizations nonprofits and the citizens of those countries, says Sikina Jinnah, a professor of environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
“It’s really the global North speaking on behalf of the global South,” she says. This is yet another violation of environmental justice, one “built into the discourse itself”.
Numerous modeling studies suggest that spraying particles into the stratosphere, thinning coastal clouds, or similar geoengineering techniques could reduce global temperatures.
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