June 29th, 2010 at 10:23 am
In today’s New York Times, Cornelia Dean has a round-up of books on “geoengineering,” an idea gaining traction in the scientific community. With the effects of global warming becoming more pronounced each day, scientists argue that geonengineering (the application of engineering techniques to alter the planet) should be tested before it is too late.
Despite its echoes of science fiction, the attempt to control weather or the climate is hardly new. The Times article focuses on James Rodger Fleming’s forthcoming book Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control, which recounts the often colorful history of weather modification and geoengineering. Fleming argues that while proposals for affecting the climate seem edgy and exciting, they often test the limits of scientific possibility and overlook the political, ethical, and social consequences of climate management.
In the article Dean writes:
For Dr. Fleming, whose book is a scholarly look at the history of weather modification and similar efforts, geoengineering proposals are “untested, untestable and dangerous beyond belief.” He fits them neatly into what he calls “a long tradition of imaginative and speculative literature involving the ‘control’ of nature.” But, as he notes, the ideas have drawn favor especially among conservatives and libertarians who look for technological rather than regulatory solutions for climate change.