Argument: Geoengineering will reduce incentive to cut emissions

Issue Report: Geoengineering


Francelino Grando, a senior government official from Brazil, worried that geoengineering might be seen as a solution instead of a stop-gap: “It may give people the impression that we don’t have to worry about climate change because we can solve it through engineering.”[1]

Alan Robock. “Has the time come for geoengineering?” The Bulletin. August 14th, 2008: “13. Undermining emissions mitigation. If humans perceive an easy technological fix to global warming that allows for “business as usual,” gathering the national (particularly in the United States and China) and international will to change consumption patterns and energy infrastructure will be even more difficult. 18 This is the oldest and most persistent argument against geoengineering.”

Graeme Wood. “Re-Engineering the Earth.” The Atlantic. September 12th, 2010: “With that growing acceptance, however, come some grave dangers. If geo-engineering is publicly considered a “solution” to climate change, governments may reduce their efforts to restrict the carbon emissions that caused global warming in the first place. If you promise that in a future emergency you can chill the Earth in a matter of months, cutting emissions today will seem far less urgent. “Geo-engineering needs some government funding, but the most disastrous thing that could happen would be for Barack Obama to stand up tomorrow and announce the creation of a geo-engineering task force with hundreds of millions in funds,” says David Keith.”

A colleague of Crutzen’s at the Max Planck Institute of Chemistry, Meinrat Andreae, reportedly argued against publication of Crutzen’s paper, claiming that geoengineering would be an excuse for continued emissions, leaving the problem to future generations “like a junkie figuring out new ways of stealing from his children.”[2]