CAN SCIENCE FIX CLIMATE CHANGE? by Mike Hulme

  • Written by  Matt Law
  • Published in Books
CAN SCIENCE FIX CLIMATE CHANGE? by Mike Hulme
01 Jun
2014
The Plan A of climate change mitigation – namely an international agreement to cut emissions – isn’t working, as demonstrated by the unsatisfactory outcome of the 2009 Copenhagen summit. Can science provide us with a Plan B?

In this short and readable book, Mike Hulme, author of Why We Disagree about Climate Change, explores one particular Plan B – reflecting sunlight back into space using stratospheric aerosol injection. Across five chapters, he lays out the science and technology of this particular form of geoengineering, which he likens to creating a ‘thermostat in the sky’, before arguing against it, and finally proposing a different kind of role for science in tackling climate change.

The simplicity of geoengineering may seem attractive, and certainly some have argued strongly for it. However, in practice, stratospheric aerosol injection would be unworkable. The ‘thermostat’ would be ungovernable and a long-term international agreement would be required to put it in place, which seems unlikely given our current stalemate over emissions limits.

The complexity of the climate system could lead to unintended consequences; climate change isn’t indexed against rising global temperature: its impacts are unevenly distributed around the world. Hulme argues that science’s role should be grounded in pragmatism, recognising that there’s no quick fix and that we need to get on with investing in infrastructural adaptation and creating low-carbon and zero-carbon energy technologies.

Hulme concludes that we should ‘attend to liberty, justice and human security on the ground and not delude ourselves that utopias can be engineered in the sky’.

CAN SCIENCE FIX CLIMATE CHANGE? by Mike Hulme, Polity, £9.99

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

  • The Air That We Breathe
    Cities the world over are struggling to improve air quality as scandals surrounding diesel car emissions come to light and the huge health costs of po...
    The Nuclear Power Struggle
    The UK appears to be embracing nuclear, a huge U-turn on government policy from just two years ago. Yet this seems to be going against the grain globa...
    Diabetes: The World at Risk
    Diabetes is often thought of as a ‘western’ problem, one linked to the developed world’s overindulgence in fatty foods and chronic lack of physi...
    National Clean Air Day
    For National Clean Air Day, Geographical brings together stories about air pollution and the kind of solutions needed to tackle it ...
    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...

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...

Books

The dreadful pandemic of 1918, writes Laura Spinney, ‘engulfed the…

Books

Those of us who enjoy good travel writing know that…

Books

‘I look around me and I see a world populated…

Books

Convergence has long been a talking point within evolutionary science.…

Books

At its core, Thomas’ book is about a big hole…

Books

I’m not sure how much of a market there is…

Books

Watling Street connects Dover to Anglesey. Once a meandering track,…

Films

An epic journey alongside the nomadic crew of the Infinity…

Films

Vice President and climate action advocate Al Gore returns with…

Films

A new Netflix documentary investigates the dire state of the…

Books

After two years, you’d probably think it nigh on impossible…

Books

Not for intrepid travel writer Norman Lewis the melancholy tea…

Books

Twenty-year-old Nigel Halleck – Kief Hillsbery’s many-times removed uncle –…

Books

Jason Hickel’s bold book is full of stark facts and…

Books

Bridges are more than just a means of connection, writes…

Exhibitions

A wildlife exhibition in central London is displaying huge artworks…

Reviews

Exploring ancient Japan in a serene game of tactical beauty

Exhibitions

With a blue whale skeleton due to be unveiled in…