Geoengineering paper

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Table of Contents

1. Essay Abstract
2. Introduction
3. Geoengineering: What is it?
4. Environmental Issues & Science
5. Human Impact
6. Ethical & Justice Issues
7. Conclusion
8. Bibliography

Geoengineering: A global issue
Essay Abstract
Geoengineering is a set of new technologies which aim to change the environment in human favour. Considering the technology is nascent, the morality, ethics, technological knowhow and the human impact are all uncertain as they relate to geoengineering. This paper argues that on these grounds, the geoengineering issue should be a global issue. Local governments fail to implement this technology effectively. The subsidiarity test should be passed when it relates to the geoengineering issue.

With rising CO2 levels, changing weather patterns and an ever increasing intensity of weather events, governments and environmental groups are trying to address the global warming issue. There are many theories on how to deal with climate change; from a reduction in pollution to carbon capture. Geoengineering is a relatively new idea in the field of science which “describes this array of technologies that aim, through large-scale and deliberate modifications of the Earth’s energy balance, to reduce temperatures and counteract anthropogenic climate change.” (Bracmort et all., 2011: 1) The vast majority of technology is nascent and at a theoretical stage but it has the potential to affect populations and climate on a global scale. (Bracmort et all., 2011: 1) Any issue that has the ability to instigate social, environmental and political change on a global basis should consequently pass a subsidiarity test. Subsidiarity as defined by the Oxford English dictionary states that “specifically the principle that central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level.” (Peterson, no year: 117) This paper will try to show that geoengineering is an issue that is worthy of the global agenda based on world view implications, social justice, ethics, as well as the science that relates to the issue.

Geoengineering: What is it?

As previously stated, geoengineering is the term that encompasses all technologies that try to modify the natural balance of the environment in order to combat man made environmental changes. Normally, geoengineering can be classified in two different groups:

Solar radiation management (SRM): which include any technology which tries to increase the reflectiveness of our atmosphere or ground. Carbon dioxide removal (CDR): technologies which try to remove or capture CO2 from the atmosphere.

Under the Solar radiation management method, a multitude of technologies exist. The first technology option is solar sunshades. This means sending mirrors into space to reflect the sunlight back towards the sun. Another method would be to seed clouds worldwide with salt water in order to make them lighter and thicker so that sunlight would reflect. Furthermore, releasing tons of aerosols into the atmosphere would also reduce the solar radiation coming in. Other options include modifications done on land. For example, desert reflectors can reflect sunlight back into space if placed appropriately. (Bracmort et all., 2011: 7) Carbon dioxide removal is the other set of technologies currently available. CDR is composed of such technologies as Bio-charring, afforestation and reforestation, ocean nutrient and carbonate addition as well as enhanced down welling. (Bracmort et all., 2011: 7) All of these technologies deal with taking out carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and are generally considered to require a longer duration for temperature modification.

Environmental Issues & Science

Geoengineering is seen by many scientists currently as a last case scenario solution. The term was first coined by Cesare Marchetti in the early 70’s and has...
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