Last week in class we talked for an hour about geoengineering even though not a single one of us is a scientist or capable of fully comprehending the intricacies of the plans we evaluated. Then, the next day, I came across this article from Grist, which had been published the day before: Why we should talk about geoengineering even if we never do it. A team of researchers found that — in addition to its helpfulness in understanding climate systems — geoengineering studies can help to make conversations about climate change less polarizing. And the article’s final paragraph mirrors many of our course’s key themes:
But just like other sci-fi fodder — black holes, time travel, artificial intelligence — geoengineering is the kind of concept that, by stoking imaginations and raising questions of ethics, politics, and the limits of human innovation, can influence society without ever having to become a reality. It’s dangerous, and scientists get that, but neglecting or hindering the broader climate change discussion is dangerous too.