Overview: Governing Geo-engineering
The term geo-engineering covers a range of activities designed either to withdraw greenhouse gases currently residing in the atmosphere or to deflect solar radiation from reaching the Earth’s surface. Some activities of this sort (e.g. planting trees to capture carbon dioxide) are already taking place; others are in the planning stage. There is no way to make a single, synoptic decision about the effectiveness, likely side effects, and ethical consequences of geo-engineering. What we can do is to establish mechanisms that allow us to make suitable decisions about specific proposals involving geo-engineering. There is much to be said for putting a geo-engineering governance system in place now, so that it will be available as and when the need to make decisions about initiatives involving geo-engineering arises.
Oran Young, University of California, Santa Barbara
Oran Young is professor of environmental institutions and policy at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California (Santa Barbara). He is an expert on climate policy and has worked extensively in the Arctic, a region that is already experiencing the impacts of climate change on a large scale.