IEET > GlobalDemocracySecurity > Fellows > Jamais Cascio > Eco-gov
A Survival Guide to Geoengineering
Jamais Cascio   Mar 22, 2010   momentum  

Despite its potential to trigger conflict, geoengineering will likely be part of the global response to climate change. Be prepared.

The tumultuous outcome of the Copenhagen summit drives home two clear facts: The political struggles around how we respond to global climate disruption are enormously complex—and the resulting delays are bringing us dangerously close to disaster.

This disaster may not unfold in the way we expect. Accelerating changes to the global climate may render even the most aggressive carbon reductions insufficient. But there’s a good chance that the action taken will be in the form of geoengineering, or the intentional modification of geophysical systems to reduce the impacts of climate change.

However, the clashes around geoengineering will make COP15 look amicable. Done carelessly,geoengineering could cause unintended environmental damage. It could also undermine the health and security of millions of people, and drive political wedges between powerful nations. Geoengineering could even push us to the brink of war.

While we know geoengineering would be enormously risky, we’re likely to try it anyway. We can’t eliminate the risks entirely, but if we act wisely, we can make the risks more manageable. Here, I lay out a few ideas for making sure that any geoengineering efforts are done in ways that reduce the risks of both environmental harm and political conflict.

Read the rest here.

Jamais Cascio is a Senior Fellow of the IEET, and a professional futurist. He writes the popular blog Open the Future.


When a complex system (like the Earth’s climate) is forced (like by massive carbon emissions from burning fossil fuel), it tends to resist change, then abruptly shifts to a new stable state.  In other words, it is predictably that we will suffer abrupt climate change that geoengineering efforts will not be able to reverse.

Think geoengineering could cause conflicts?  How about abrupt climate change?  Remember, the Younger Dryas came on abruptly, it didn’t come on gradually.  No matter how sophisticated we think we are, human civilization is depended upon the climate of the Holocene for food.

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