A CASE FOR CLIMATE ENGINEERING by David Keith

  • Written by  Harley Rustad
  • Published in Books
A CASE FOR CLIMATE ENGINEERING by David Keith
01 Mar
2014
Within the raging and highly politicised debate on the realities and seriousness of climate change lies the controversial proposal put forth by David Keith: that global warming could be curbed by injecting pollution into the atmosphere

In Keith’s case, this is good pollution: sulphate or sulphuric acid aerosols that could be dispersed in the stratosphere 20 kilometres above us and reflect the Sun’s warming rays – in roughly the same way as clouds – and counteract the warming effects of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. 

Like many climate change debates in the past ten years, Keith begins with a bang: ‘This single technology could increase the productivity of ecosystems across the planet and stop global warming; it could increase crop yields, particularly those in the hottest and poorest parts of the world. It is hyperbolic but not inaccurate to call it a cheap tool that could green the world.’

This readable and engaging case – that we should be focusing on geoengineering as a potential, if temporary, fix to increased global temperatures – is brimming with caution rather than naivety. Fighting pollution-caused climate change with more pollution would be ‘quick-and-dirty’ and a ‘brutally ugly technical fix’, but a potential fix nonetheless. 

As we continue on in our warming world, spiralling ever deeper into the doldrums of climate arguments fuelled by self-interested parties, the case for geoengineering may slide from a morally contentious option to a necessary question, or, perhaps, as Keith remarks, just ‘an easy out’. But with few great strides being taken to address – let alone rationally discuss – climate change, Keith’s case for geoengineering should at least be on the table. 

‘With or without geoengineering,’ Keith concludes, ‘it’s the end of nature with a capital “N”, the romantic ideal of nature wholly separate from civilization.’

A CASE FOR CLIMATE ENGINEERING by David Keith, MIT Press, £10.95

Share this story...

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to Twitter

Geographical Week

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox every Friday.

Subscribe Today

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth UniversityUniversity of GreenwichThe University of Winchester

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

DOSSIERS

Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • REDD+ or Dead?
    The UN-backed REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) scheme, under which developing nations would be paid not to cut dow...
    The true cost of meat
    As one of the world’s biggest methane emitters, the meat industry has a lot more to concern itself with than merely dietary issues ...
    Long live the King
    It is barely half a century since the Born Free story caused the world to re-evaluate humanity’s relationship with lions. A few brief decades later,...
    London: a walk in the park
    In the 2016 London Mayoral election, the city’s natural environment was high on the agenda. Geographical asks: does the capital have a green future,...
    The Money Trail
    Remittance payments are a fundamental, yet often overlooked, part of the global economy. But the impact on nations receiving the money isn’t just a ...

MORE DOSSIERS

NEVER MISS A STORY - follow Geographical

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...

Exhibitions

New exhibition highlights the ubiquity of plastic in the modern…

Films

Craving some non-fiction? Here are some of the best documentaries…

Exhibitions

A multimedia exhibition tackles the question of what it’s like…

Books

Jules Mountain was working as guide in the Alps until,…

Books

When making predictions about India’s future, the first step is…

Books

Many of us will be familiar with this run of…

Books

‘When the winds of change blow some people build walls,…

Books

Veteran traveller Stephen O’Shea takes the reader on a delightful…

Books

Turning each page of this sumptuous book is a constant…

Books

In her youth, Kapka Kassabova would spend family holidays on…

Books

In 2014, Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters embarked upon an…

Books

As the distinguished German historian, Jan Ruger, describes, never under-estimate…

Books

Deep in the vast rainforests of Honduras, in a region…

Books

As Ghobash points out, his eldest son is only two…

Books

There are a few strange ways to describe a group…

Books

Having everyone agree about the location of zero degrees longitude…

Books

This well-organised and beautifully produced book highlights the careers of…

Films

One of the most gripping mysteries of the 20th century…

Books

At the turn of the 17th century, the idea of…

Books

Mountain regions host a disproportionate share of the world’s conflicts:…