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An Introduction to the Ethics of Geoengineering

Ethical issues related to geoengineering are numerous and complex, resisting simple overviews.  If one has to overview the terrain, one way to survey the issues is to categorize them in terms of the temporal order in which the ethical challenges might initially arise.  Some issues arise when first contemplating the prospect of addressing climate change through geoengineering. Others emerge when moving towards deployment of various technologies and still others when discussing how to bring geoengineering to a close.  This temporal categorization is not perfect; several issues transcend these categories or appear in more than one category, but this organization provides a helpful introduction to the ethics of geoengineering.  Click on the timeline below to find some of the different challenges that occur at different times.

Before beginning your survey, it is important to remember the background context in which this discussion takes place.  What should the global community do to forstall the considerable human and environmental harm in store if efforts to address climate change through mitigation prove to be inadequate?

[A more detailed account of this categorization can be found in the article Ethics and Geoengineering: Reviewing the Moral Issues Raised by SRM and CDR  Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 4 (2013): 23–37 by Christopher J. Preston]