Geoengineering: Reflections on Current Debates

By Paula Curvelo and Ângela Guimarães Pereira.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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In this paper we propose to investigate the current debates on geoengineering, here considered as an illustrative metaphor of particular technoscientific promises and ‘techno-fix’ narratives that are emerging in our society. After a brief introduction, where we provide the necessary background to understand the complex issues surrounding geoengineering, we discuss the relevance of this investigation. We then proceed to explore the controversies behind geoengineering, which start with its own definition. The analysis of the current debates around geoengineering experimentation, regulation and deployment reveal some of the dominant narratives of technoscientific progress and highlight important tensions and frictions in the relationship between science, policy and society. A reflection on these issues suggests the relevance of developing alternative approaches to furthering the ‘democratisation and de alienation’ of geoengineering debates, thus responding to a perceived need for more careful consideration of the normative assumptions that lie behind the idea of deliberately manipulating Earth's climate to offset anthropogenic climate change.

Keywords: Climate Engineering, Geoengineering Debates, Climate Change, Narrative Inquiry, Master Narratives

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp.1-21. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 787.914KB).

Paula Curvelo

Joint Research Centre, European Commission - Joint Research Centre, Ispra, (VA), Italy

Paula Curvelo is a PhD student at the University of Lisbon. Since September 2010, she has been developing her research activities in the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) at the European Commission – Joint Research Centre.

Dr. Ângela Guimarães Pereira

Scientific Officer, Joint Research Centre, European Commission - Joint Research Centre, Ispra, N/A, Italy

Ângela Guimarães Pereira is a scientific officer at the European Commission – Joint Research Centre*. She has a PhD in Environmental Impact Assessment with the New University of Lisbon. Since the early 1990’s she has been collaborating in several European projects which are framed in ideas of democratisation of science; throughout those projects she has worked on anticipating societal issues in relation to environmental governance and emerging technologies. In all those projects she was studying and looking at methodological issues for communicating about science and technology in contexts of public engagement. At the JRC she is currently leading the action "Security Ethics in New I&C Technologies" (SETICS).