Article ID: CBB917654730

Values in early-stage climate engineering: The ethical implications of “doing the research” (2021)


Calls for research on climate engineering have increased in the last two decades, but there remains widespread agreement that many climate engineering technologies (in particular, forms involving global solar radiation management) present significant ethical risks and require careful governance. However, proponents of research argue, ethical restrictions on climate engineering research should not be imposed in early-stage work like in silico modeling studies. Such studies, it is argued, do not pose risks to the public, and the knowledge gained from them is necessary for assessing the risks and benefits of climate engineering technologies. I argue that this position, which I call the “broad research-first” stance, cannot be maintained in light of the entrance of nonepistemic values in climate modeling. I analyze the roles that can be played by nonepistemic political and ethical values in the design, tuning, and interpretation of climate models. Then, I argue that, in the context of early-stage climate engineering research, the embeddedness of values will lead to value judgments that could harm stakeholder groups or impose researcher values on non-consenting populations. I conclude by calling for more robust reflection on the ethics and governance of early-stage climate engineering research.

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Authors & Contributors
Anderson, Ben
Luegenbiehl, Heinz C.
Schummer, Joachim
Rayward, W. Boyd
Montefrio, Marvin Joseph F.
Dubbs, Chris
The Bridge: Journal of the National Academy of Engineering
Humanities and Technology Review
NTM: Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften, Technik und Medizin
Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society
Metascience: An International Review Journal for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Science
Perspectives in Biology and Medicine
University of Nebraska Press
Princeton University
Duke University Press
The University of North Carolina Press
Lexington Books
Technology and society
Moral and ethical aspects
Climate engineering
Climate change
Information technology
Science and society
Time Periods
21st century
20th century, late
20th century, early
United States

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