Wrapping Glaciers, Making Clouds, and Reflecting Sunlight

An image in the online Encyclopaedia Britannica illustrating the various strategies for climate engineering has always bothered me. Alongside the highly technical and speculative proposal of placing orbiting mirrors in space to intercept the sun’s rays sits the highly unsophisticated and low-tech proposal of wrapping melting glaciers with huge sheets of white fabric. The juxtaposition …

The Ethics of a Global Sunshade

Earlier this month, a major international conference on climate engineering* (also known as ‘geoengineering’) wrapped up in Berlin attracting headlines around the world. Next week, I’m travelling to a smaller academic meeting on the ethics and governance of climate engineering research. Next year, two outdoor tests of climate modification technologies are scheduled to begin. The …

When Humans Design Climate

Last week an article appeared in Forbes magazine bearing the title “As Humans Fumble Climate Challenge, Interest Grows in Geoengineering.” The article reports that during an appearance at Carnegie Mellon University, Dr. David Keith, one of North America’s foremost advocates for research into geoengineering, observed that in recent months serious discussion of geoengineering “really is …