inadvertent climate effects However states must also carefully consider

Inadvertent climate effects however states must also

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inadvertent climate effects. However, states must also carefully consider geoengineering in their pledge to prevent dangerous anthropogen- ic interference with the climate system. For NoTES, PlEASE SEE P. 59. Alan Robock is director of the meteorology under- graduate program and associate director of the Center for Environmental Prediction in the Department of En- vironmental Sciences at Rutgers University. This work is supported by the National Science Foundation. an EtHical aSSESSMEnt oF gEoEnginEEring W hile there are many questions about the feasibility, cost, and effectiveness of geoengineering plans, my colleague Alan robock has been the most sys- tematic and persistent of a number of scientists in raising ethical quandaries about the enterprise. But just how serious are these ethical quandaries? Most science poses risks of unintended consequences, and lots of science raises issues of commercial and military control. At issue here is whether there is any reason to believe ex ante that these are special or unusually large risks. Merely asserting them does not ground an objection per se . Not all of robock’s concerns involve ethics, but of those that do, some involve issues of procedural justice (such as who decides) while others involve matters of distributive justice (such as uneven benefit and harm). To simplify things, let’s assume that inject- ing aerosols into the stratosphere successfully cooled Earth without any untoward ef- fects and with evenly distributed benefits. one might still object that there are issues of procedural justice involved—who decides and who controls. But such concerns don’t get much traction when everyone benefits. let’s pull back from this idealization to imagine an outcome that involves untoward consequences and an uneven distribution of benefits. We deal with consequences by balancing them against the benefits of our interventions. The issue is whether or not we can obtain reliable estimates of both risks and benefits without full-scale implementa- tion of the planned intervention. We already know from modeling that the impact of any such intervention will be uneven, but again, without knowing what the distribution of ben- efit and harm would be, it’s hard to estimate how much this matters. let’s differentiate two circumstances under which going ahead with the intervention might be judged: one is where everyone benefits, while the other is a circumstance in which something less is the case. A conservative conclusion would be to say that beyond modeling and con- trolled, low-level tests (if the modeling justifies it), we shouldn’t sanction any large-scale interventions unless they are in everyone’s interest. A slightly eased condition, proposed by the philosopher Dale Jamieson, would be that at least nobody is worse off. That may not be as farfetched a condition as one might think, since, in the end, we are considering this intervention as a means to balance a risk we all face—global warming.
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